Beneath its appearance as a good-natured independent game, Born of Bread, from Blainville studio WildArts, bubbles with creativity and humor. And if we can find the mechanics a little repetitive, there are the ingredients to have fun for many hours.
Born of Bread is the second work from the small studio WildArts, founded by Nicolas Lamarche and Gabriel Bolduc-Dufour and which delivered Helltown in 2017. This atypical horror game, in which we play a postman chased by monsters in the new town of Little Vale, had enjoyed great success and stood out for its pixelated graphics and very original tone.
Nothing horrible or pixelated this time in Born of Bread, which takes the aesthetic of games like Paper Mario, where flat characters walk around in 3D settings. The adventure is led by Tipain, a golem released by accident from the oven of the royal baker Papa Dufourneau. He will have to face a group of teenagers resurrected by confused archaeologists, the Fripon gang, who are trying to get their hands on shards of solar stone hidden in the kingdom.
Our Tipain will therefore have to explore the forests and hidden areas of Ville-Royale, built on the ruins of an ancient civilization, the Empire of Embers. He will be accompanied from the start by a lost raccoon, Lindt, who spent his time alone writing stories. From one mission to another, he will collect useful objects and meet other partners whom he can call upon during the battles. He will acquire skills, strength and techniques in the good old RPG style and will be able to use various weapons ranging from the basic ladle to the shishkebab skewer or the frozen blade.
The decorations are adorable, drawn in a simple and very colorful line. We obtain instructions for missions by dialoguing, through speech bubbles in six languages including French, with all the animals, soldiers, sanctuary guardians and other fauna living in the kingdom.
Far from the somewhat automatic dialogues that we are often treated to, the craftsmen at WildArts had fun here giving a humorous tone to the lines, with slightly offbeat warnings and exaggeratedly pompous or depressed characters. When an enemy crosses your path, it’s a confrontation. The combat mechanics seem very simple but are much more subtle than they appear. These are blow-by-blow fights, for which you must choose a partner and then draw from the limited number of weapons that your bag can contain. Each turn, you must choose your action from the cards offered, essentially attacking, defending yourself, using an item to regenerate one of your forces or fleeing. Your abilities are essentially divided into three segments, hit points, courage and resolve, which fuel your hits and your ability to take. And once the move is chosen, offensive or defensive, you must quickly move the controller to activate it at exactly the right time to obtain the optimal effect.
The exercise seems simple but is quickly complicated by a whole series of characteristics that can be added to characters to make them more courageous, sarcastic or resistant. The right moment to strike the blow is also to be discovered through experience, so that the target is fully hit. Tipain’s partners do not all have the same abilities, with Lindt being able to demolish obstacles and find valuable objects, for example. Certain weapons are ineffective against resistant enemies, we have anti-poison or fire powers, we can even resort to meditation to protect ourselves or discover new areas.
Fun and very ingenious, all of it. However, we must admit to a certain weariness after a few hours of playing the A button and the joystick to find the right moment to trigger an attack. The dialogues also tend to be a little long, especially since you often have to ask your interlocutor two or three times for them to reveal everything they have to say.
But in the end, Born of Bread is an adorable surprise, a piece of fun that takes up the family codes popularized by Nintendo in particular by injecting it with a beautiful madness. It’s not an AAA, obviously, but the four artisans at the heart of WildArts were able to offer a refreshing reinterpretation of this concept.