I only had to take one look at Born of Bread to be all-in on its Paper Mario-inspired adventure. I mean, just look at the screenshots… it’s gorgeous and manages to capture the tone of Nintendo’s series perfectly. And sure, the idea of playing as a character made of bread wasn’t particularly appealing for me, but it did set the tone for the whimsical adventure I’d get to embark on.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Born of Bread puts players in the role of Loaf, who is, as the title suggests, ‘born of bread’. Yep, you were whipped up in an oven by a baker who was SUPPOSED to be making some bread for the queen of the land, but instead ends up creating a bread boy who he lovingly embraces as a son. It’s almost like Pinocchio, but instead of being made of wood, it’s yeast, flour, and eggs. Unfortunately, you also happen to find yourself caught up in a vicious plot with some demonic baddies who are seeking magical items known as Sunstones to cause some chaos, sending you on a weird little adventure to stop them.

It’s a silly little tale that brings with it some endearing and comical moments, but I’d be lying if I said I was wholly invested in the storytelling. Whilst characters were likable and there were plenty of fun scenarios during the quest, I never felt like it did anything wholly unique that pulled me in whilst the pacing saw some events play out with very little depth. And sure, playing as a bread boy is a bit different to the norm, but I found it difficult to attach myself to him as a main protagonist. There’s something sweet about his innocence and it’s neat that you make dialogue choices to make up for his otherwise silent demeanour, but he just never felt as interesting as some of the characters you meet along the way. I don’t want to be too harsh on the storytelling because there was nothing bad here at all, but it just rarely caught my attention.

Fortunately, most other aspects of the game are a lot more interesting, with the visuals standing out as a particular highlight. I simply LOVED the aesthetic of Born of Bread, with the combination of colourful 3D environments and cute 2D character sprites looking absolutely wonderful in-game. As mentioned, the visuals are clearly inspired by the Paper Mario series, but their implementation here is striking and imaginative, whilst the fluid animations and dazzling visual effects help bring it all to life. Add to that some creatively designed locales that offer plenty of alluring sights and you’ll quickly find that Born of Bread offers a world that’s a real treat to be a part of.

“I simply LOVED the aesthetic of Born of Bread, with the combination of colourful 3D environments and cute 2D character sprites looking absolutely wonderful in-game.”

Combat is equally creative, with it utilising a turn-based approach that requires careful player management and the use of QTEs to damage enemies. You’ll mash buttons and twirl sticks to perform moves, with careful timing often the difference between a powerful or missed attack. Each QTE is over quite quickly too, ensuring they never outstay their welcome or grow boring throughout the game’s runtime. It sounds a bit simple on paper, but with careful point management required when performing actions, there’s a deeper element of strategy in place as you try to defeat your enemies. It can be a little repetitive in places, but never to the point where it gets tiresome to play. It’s a lot like the combat seen in Paper Mario, but the fact that it’s not over-utilised in other RPGs helps ensure that it feels fresh and enjoyable here.

There are a few other interesting ideas in place too, such as the weapon system that sees you having to equip them in your backpack in order to use them. There’s a catch though: you only have limited space in your tile-based backpack, and each weapon comes in a specific shape that has to be fit in. It’s like a cross of Tetris and the inventory management of Resident Evil 4, with players either having to be creative in their weapon placement or be willing to make sacrifices until they’re able to expand their backpack size. With different weapons working more effectively in different scenarios though, there’s a bit of a balancing act when figuring out what will work best for you. You’re also able to upgrade your party’s skillset by finding weird little lizards across the world to expand your skill tree, which puts a greater emphasis on doing MORE than just battling if you want to become strong enough to conquer the game’s nastier baddies.

Admittedly, Born of Bread isn’t the toughest of games, so you can probably plough through it without having to worry about the intricacies of combat too much. Those who do embrace its varied mechanics will have a good time though, with plenty of room for strategy found throughout – I haven’t even mentioned the typical RPG hallmarks like weaknesses, buffs, and de-buffs either, which all play a role in the game. One thing that is particularly interesting is that battles are essentially ‘live streamed’ to an audience in-game, who will make demands of the player in each encounter. If you complete these demands, you’ll earn extra bonuses that can make the battle sway in your favour. It’s simple in design, but it does give players a little something extra to work towards.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Outside of combat, there’s plenty of exploration to be done across the world to find secrets, side quests to complete for all sorts of wacky characters, and even a bit of light platforming here and there. The platforming can be a little bit frustrating, especially with the fiddly camera angles and awkward perception of the placement of the 2D sprites that can make it difficult to work out where exactly you’re moving between. It’s the same for enemy encounters, which you can take an advantage into if you hit them when you see them roaming in the overworld. However, with it hard to work out how exactly the 2D sprites line up, it’s more awkward than it needs to be. In fairness, the platforming flaws are infrequent enough that they don’t feel like a big problem, but it’s something players will notice during their playthrough.

Born of Bread Review

Born of Bread is a charming RPG that might not always nail every aspect of its design, but will still stand out as a treat for fans of the genre (and ESPECIALLY those who loved Paper Mario). Whilst I wasn’t overly invested in the storytelling and exploration could feel a little clumsy, the beautifully designed world and creative combat makes up for it. There are better RPGs to play out there, but if you want something that manages to feel a bit more unique whilst also wearing its Paper Mario inspirations like a big badge of honour, Born of Bread is definitely worth checking out.

Developer: WildArts Studio Inc.
Publisher: Plug In Digital, Dear Villagers
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1555140/Born_of_Bread/