Born of Bread Review: A Unique Take on Classic RPG Mechanics
Crafting an experience primarily helmed by an evident inspiration is a risky endeavor, as the project’s identity can become muddled or indistinguishable from the roots of where you dug from. The WildArts Studio turn-based RPG Born of Bread embodies this notion from a glance, with a gameplay system and presentation immediately comparable to the Paper Mario series pre-Super Paper Mario. However, after having played through it, Born of Bread definitely has distinction, even if the execution can become dull from a lack of challenge and extreme simplicity.
Born of Bread follows Loaf, a recently humanized flour golem born from his baker’s oven. Soon after his unceremonious birth, his unwitting creator/father becomes suspected of causing treachery in place of a somewhat ominous group of antagonists. This initiates Loaf’s quest comprised of freeing his father from imprisonment, though the journey eventually becomes much more than that past the opening chapter.
Exploring the Vibrant World of Born of Bread
Born of Bread is chiefly a comedy-based experience that uses puns and other word-based humor to instill a lighthearted ambiance bolstered by the delightful environments and generally uplifting soundtrack. If there is one facet of this title that will likely catch the eye of a prospective player, it’s the sheer presentation. Born of Bread retains varied and colorful areas throughout its entire playtime, making each location intrinsically memorable. Further, the character designs employ similar memorability, with everyone having exaggerated features or standout designs that you will surely remember across the journey.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Crafting an experience primarily helmed by an evident inspiration is a risky endeavor… Born of Bread embodies this notion..[/perfectpullquote]
Still, the cast’s bright nature and abodes don’t necessarily mean the adventure is void of stakes. While I would not say that Born of Bread has an impactful story, it certainly tries to articulate emotion into the cast for occasional dramatic effect. The antagonists are handled the best in this regard, even though their inclusions in some points come across as being shoe-horned in. The soundtrack can be quite serene, too, especially in a few field areas.
As for the heroes, they’re more hit-and-miss. None of the party members are necessarily outright poor in their implementations with the plot or rest of the cast, but they usually become forgettable background noise the longer they’re with you. Since Loaf is silent, the party members take the reigns as narrative-text conduits in select scenes, making their individuality less pronounced the further you progress. Loaf’s dialogue options and a few sidequests slightly offset this fault, yet they rarely amount to much.
Combat and Gameplay: A Nod to Paper Mario Fans
The gameplay of Born of Bread is probably what most prospective players are excited about, given the similarities to Paper Mario. In that sense, Born of Bread delivers precisely what you expect. Combat is turn-based, with all attacks performed via brief maneuvers requiring players to interact with the analog stick or specified buttons in particular ways. This general mechanic applies to both standard strikes and special skills. Those unfamiliar with these Paper Mario-style systems may believe this implementation to be an unnecessary waste of time. However, these lite minigames really only take a few seconds at most, so there’s no need for concern on that front.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Born of Bread retains varied and colorful areas throughout its entire playtime, making each location intrinsically memorable.[/perfectpullquote]
If you have a history with RPGs, you won’t find a challenge here at all. A few elements grant appreciated variety, like a basic skill tree and boons that offer additional combat benefits, though it’s all quite surface-level. This isn’t an inherent negative by any means, as the reception to that type of difficulty depends on the crowd. Still, at least personally, the core combat’s simplicity overtook the presence of other added systems, which made the later encounters feel more of the same. At its core, the combat in Born of Bread doesn’t require much thought aside from essential RPG strategy employment with resource management and attack affinities. The character customization and additional ideas are one-and-done facets you rarely have to think about past their initial introductions.
Navigating the Challenges and Simplicity of Born of Bread
The primary exception to that philosophy, though, regards the level-up system. In a very loose manner akin to the attache case of Resident Evil 4, you can input skills in your backpack, yet they each take a predetermined number of slots to equip. When you level up, you can select one of three stats to enhance further and whether you want to gradually expand your boon or backpack capacity. These decisions help tailor everyone’s combat exploits individually, even if it’s all minor and minute in the grand scheme of events.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If you have a history with RPGs, you won’t find a challenge here at all… the core combat’s simplicity overtook the presence of other added systems.[/perfectpullquote]
A strange background notion applicable to battles is how your dragon companion, Dub, will livestream your fights, where fulfilling audience requests will restore a resource for your skills. Honestly, I usually ignored them since if the requests arrive at inopportune times, they can draw out battles longer than necessary; you never have to engage with them. But it’s a neat idea that I wish played a more active role in shaping the trajectory of all of your battles instead of being ignorable.
Regarding exploration, Born of Bread is a moderately fulfilling time. The dungeons have the double-edged sword of seldom overstaying their welcome at the cost of feeling like their respective avenues of potential are never realized. Still, you do have to actually pay attention to the environment to progress past certain blockades. Not everything in these areas is effortlessly handed to you, so the locales have that strength going for them. Plus, the party members you receive have environmental abilities that open up previously inaccessible pathways and secrets, like solidifying veiled platforms or digging up mounds of dirt.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Combat is turn-based, with all attacks performed via brief maneuvers… These lite minigames really only take a few seconds at most.[/perfectpullquote]
Unfortunately, these blockades aren’t well-integrated into the environment, as they’re randomly plastered around and seem there to give the illusion of fulfillment. On the other hand, there are dungeon-specific gimmicks that shine. Ultimately, the strong and varied art direction doesn’t substitute the inconsistent levels of gameplay application. The most significant facet of exploration is the collectibles you can redeem to earn points for the skill tree, so that’s well worth your while.
Towns and such are standard RPG fare, with a fair amount of NPC dialogue and sidequests to complete. Similarly to the dungeon design, the sidequests accomplish what they set out to do, divulging brief aspects of characterizations and giving several rewards. However, the actual contents of these quests are pretty forgettable. Aside from a couple of standouts, they’re busy-work that will keep you occupied and much else, yet I wouldn’t describe them as chores to complete. In essence, the optional objectives hit a neutral middle-ground that I doubt will alter your perception of the game whether or not you achieve them.
On an offhanded note, I should mention that the game didn’t successfully save my progress twice, causing me to lose a good few hours of progress. So, I recommend saving repeatedly and often to avoid this issue as best as you can.
Final Verdict: Is Born of Bread Worth Your Time?
Born of Bread is a middle-of-the-road RPG that sets itself apart from its inspirations yet never particularly excels. The adventure is carried by vibrant area and character design alongside compelling exploration, but the unchallenging, mostly thoughtless combat system and attempts at humorous writing can become increasingly dry in the later hours.
This title is ideal for those actively yearning for a new type of Paper Mario experience or newcomers to the genre. If the sense of humor is in your style and you don’t mind the simplicity, then Born of Bread is a definite must-play. Otherwise, you’re better off pursuing other inspired journeys.
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