The Baker of Shireton

by Hanon Ondricek profile

Part of Age of Aeons

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Number of Reviews: 2
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Unconventional escape puzzle game-within-a-game, November 27, 2015
by jwhitham (York, England)

In this game-within-a-game, you are one of the non-player characters (NPCs) in an online game named Age of Aeons (AoA). Think World of Warcraft and you have the idea. "Baker" is a parody of that genre.

You are stuck in your bakery in Shireton (Stormwind?). Though baking bread makes you happy, you also want to leave and see the world. But AoA's rules don't permit that. You have a fixed role, and you can't leave. In order to get past AoA's rules, you need to exploit bugs in AoA, avoid being reset by AoA's admins, and get a bit of help from other NPCs and even AoA's players.

The premise really appealed to me, as did the process of discovering what was possible within the bakery. Your escape is enabled by an unconventional puzzle, and there's a nice moment when you figure it out, because it defies the usual idea of how the game interpreter program works. I enjoyed the characters you meet in game, such as the other NPCs, who have varied levels of awareness of their world. There are also "players" of AoA. At first these seemed to be a simple satire of WoW players, but actually their role in Baker was deeper than that, and some were smarter than they appeared. For instance, (Spoiler - click to show)they recruit the baker in order to defeat a boss.

I enjoyed solving the game, particularly the early/mid-game stages. However I felt that the illusion of the AoA scenario was broken in the later stages of the game when (Spoiler - click to show)one of AoA's players talks to you directly and expects you to solve a puzzle. But in reality no-one would expect the baker to do anything other than bake bread. While early parts of the game give you the illusion of a lot of choice, and many things to try, and the mid stage rewards you with a larger world and more NPCs to meet, the later parts of the game are not so satisfying. The final parts of the game are effectively "on rails" - few actions are possible, and you are just responding to the game in order to advance it to the conclusion.

Baker is one of those competition games that was extensively tuned during the competition in response to feedback. The process of baking became easy, with minimal resource management, and the puzzles became better clued. The hints and walkthrough are excellent, and have the nice property of becoming increasingly detailed rather than revealing everything on page 1. It's nicely polished. Play it all the way through, take the time to enjoy the inane things that the AoA "players" say, and don't worry too much about being a good baker.