Traption Bakery is a fun little puzzle game but not much replay value.
Every now and then you come across a title where you think it’s going to be fairly straight forward and simple, only to start playing it and get sucked down a rabbit hole of the weird and wonderful. Traption Bakery by Jon Prestige of ProperBostin is one of those games.
Mr Gromet’s bakers have all telephoned in rather poorly and it’s up to you to bake a nice loaf of bread for the orphanage. But this is no ordinary bakery. In fact I get the feeling that the bakers phoned in poorly from the stress of working out how to actually bake bread in what seems like the inside of a Rube Goldberg machine.
There’s a lot going on in Traption Bakery which involves a huge and detailed, fully functional mad contraption. There’s an elephant in the basement, a crashed UFO jury-rigged to speed up time for certain things, a helter skelter for headless people only and an inverted Dalek being used to hold grain. There are so many curios scattered about and the art style gives it a feel of something that an artist might have doodled on a sticky note.
I started by looking for things that I could do, clicking and dragging around the machine. Quite handily, everything I could interact with was coloured in a blue outline. You’d be forgiven for thinking that would be easy to spot everything, but the various levers and switches will only appear as blue if you zoom in on them, and different levers require different levels of zoom to be able to see.
I slowly uncovered all the different little bits and pieces needed to bake the bread in the bakery that Willy Wonka built, and pieced together how to mix the ingredients to make the dough and get it into the oven. Some things I was able to work out fairly easily, such has how to move the elephant off the switch to trigger something or how to start the mill grinding the grain to make flour. If you logically follow the machines, you’ll mostly work out how to do the thing that you need to do to progress. Mostly.
There were a couple of times when I got stumped by things. How to get water for instance. There’s a barrel with a lever that you pull that makes it look like it will pour water into the ‘bowl’ for you to mix your dough, only the first time you pull it nothing comes out. But that’s ok because there’s some guttering nearby, so let’s follow that and see if we can get some rain water in there. There’s a warning sign on the roof to not operate electrical devices in the rain; surely there must be a way to make it rain? Nope. The bucket attached to the lever is just sitting on top of the water. You just have to push it the other way first to fill it, then you can transfer the water to your bowl.
There’s also a musical puzzle that ended up being trial and error to work out. Pressing random piano keys until something different happens, then working out the next note by a process of elimination. I got lucky after a couple of notes and recognised the tune, but I couldn’t find any hints like with other contraptions to help me work it out. But I got there, I mixed the right portions of flour, water, yeast and salt, kneaded the bread and got it into the oven. The orphans were going to be fed! Maybe. Well apparently my first attempt wasn’t the best and they preferred to go hungry. So I had another go.
This is where the game took a little dip for me. The fun I had with Traption Bakery was finding out how everything worked. The puzzle elements of this game are its biggest attraction. Once you have it all worked out the game turns into a wait-a-thon. You’ve got to wait for the right moment to turn on the mill, you’ve got to wait for the grain to go through the mill and become flour, wait for enough flour to make your dough, wait for the right cycle to add the salt and knead the dough. There’s a lot of unnecessary waiting, especially given that the game gives you mechanics to speed up time for letting the dough sit and baking. And while it’s interesting for a while, the art style doesn’t improve on multiple viewings.
A couple of little tweaks to lessen the waiting would have increased its replayability, because the game does want you to replay it. When you bake your bread you’ll get a score (my first score was minus 59, but improved to 9 with a second play) and there are achievements for how well you do, so the game wants you to have multiple attempts. With all the waiting, and the lack of new puzzles, doing so felt like a chore rather than a new adventure.
That doesn’t take away from the fun I had exploring Traption Bakery. Discovering how the machines worked was satisfying. Finding the answer to the musical puzzle didn’t seem as hard when I realised what the tune was, although other people may find it extremely hard given that it’s from a 43 year old movie. I very much enjoyed my time discovering Traption Bakery but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting it anytime soon.
This review utilised a game key provided by ProperBostin. Traption Bakery releases October 1, 2020 on Steam.
Written by: @Str8JaktJim