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Let Them Eat Cake

by Alicia Morote


Web Site

(based on 16 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

The small riverside town of Sangnoire holds a deep and dear tradition: the Saving Day Festival. Each year, the citizens gather and offer their best tributes to celebrate the town and its continued existence. It's a miracle how anything so small should survive. Your serendipitous arrival coincides with preparation, and comes with opportunity. In order to help you assimilate to your new surroundings, your mentor has tasked you with gathering the ingredients and making a cake for the festivities. How badly do you want to get to know you neighbours?

Content warning: implied murder, violence, implied animal abuse

Game Details


28th Place - tie - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 6
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
fake-picturesque and entertaining story with many endings, but ..., December 16, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

A humble village! You, a new baker's apprentice! Why, there's a miller, farmer, priest and all that sort of thing! Sadly, a barrow-boy, hauling whatever they haul in barrows, and the old lamplighter are not in on the act. But you do what you can. The cake can't be too fancy. There's a system of barter and trust, roughly, with even a system of credit if someone can't pay just now. For instance, the farmer has given all their eggs to the priest, who is willing to swap for something later. It's understood that you help people carry or unload sacks, since you're so young. The font is a cheery cursive, and there are appealing graphics. Picturesque, indeed! You even get to type in your own name and the name of a cat you meet in a script font, which also appears at the game. This and the postcard-ish boxing of text gives an almost cutesy feel.

It will stay that way, as long as you don't get too nosy. The moment you do, though, sordid layers get peeled back. You find things you find in a trough, or in the baker's recipe book, or even around the nice old lady who assures you the "POISON" jar is not where the sugar is. So absent-minded! There are plenty of ways to get killed, but the game assures you there are lots of endings. I got 15 out of 8, presumably to reinforce the "more than meets the eye" angle. This sets us up for a potentially neat play/explore/replay cycle where we do eventually manage to explore everywhere and find interesting deaths. Another look at the cover art makes you realize something odd. That shadow is the wrong shape and color. Oh dear!

Unfortunately the technical side is a bit lacking. There are a few loops. If you click on "credits" at the end, you're kicked to a page with no way back. With little time left to judge IFComp initially, I threw in the towel, quitting while I was ahead. An individual playthrough is relatively quick, though there is a lot of overlap that seems unavoidable with the main quests--if you explore too much, you die and have to start over. So I quickly experienced a bit of dread looking through what I needed to. Maybe I didn't map what pitfalls were where carefully enough.

As-is, I got the "good" ending the second time, and I was invited to a faux-idyllic town gathering choose someone to be the Reign. They weren't happy about it. I'll invite you to play to find out why. So the cake got baked and eaten, which counts as a success. But I do think that, if there are different endings based on who is the reign, that's all a bit much to grind through repeatedly to see them. I wasn't quite curious enough to click through repeatedly.

This is a tricky one. UNDO all over would allow the player to lawnmower the end and know too much too soon, but blocking it out made exploring tedious. I'd suggest a compromise where, once you've made it to the gathering, you can click through "get the milk" and so forth on replay, to cut out a lot of unrewarding repetition. There'd be some leeway for the author on whether or not they should nudge the player to say hey, you're done here.

Let Them Eat Cake feels like a relative tap-in to fix some features to make it even more playable post-comp (the bugs mentioned,) and perhaps there's a good way to streamline different parts you've already seen or at least to indicate that the reader has done everything they can in a certain branch. So perhaps a one-two punch of post-comp releases would be good, one for maintenance, and one to smooth out seeing all of the village and all the deaths. Goat Game is a good example of how to invite lawnmowering without driving a player crazy or making them feel they aren't doing much. LTEC does seem worth the challenge, both for us and the author, though I haven't checked since my first try! It has a strong sense of setting, and while I saw what I reckon are a few errors in translation, those aren't nearly enough to sway a very favorable opinion of it. It definitely achieved "worth looking at" status, and I like the pace at which secrets were revealed to a player who poked around.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Appealing but underbaked, January 6, 2023
by Mike Russo (Los Angeles)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2022

(This is a lightly-edited version of a review I posted to the IntFiction forums during 2022's IFComp).

Let Them Eat Cake lulls you in with a premise that echoes the cozycore vibe of games like Stardew Valley – you’re an apprentice baker tasked with gathering the not-at-all-exotic ingredients to make a cake for a village festival in your new home. The aesthetic is homey as well, with text that unfurls across a background that remind me of my grandma’s old recipe cards, and the portraits of your various neighbors depicted in an appealingly ugly-cute style.

It doesn’t take long for things to curdle, though, since this Twine game isn’t so much folksy as folk horror. The most benign of the villagers is the one who did in her daughter’s fiancé with rat poison; it’s best not to pry into what the farmer’s prizewinning pigs have been eating to make them grow so fat; and the vibes in the mill were so bad I just noped my way out of there before figuring out the exact flavor of wrong that was going on there. It sure seems like your master has got some secrets too, and who knows what really goes on at the festival…

Well, I don’t, I have to admit, since I ran into a bug that saw me stuck in a time loop after bringing the ingredients back to the baker; he told me to make some butter, I did that and poked around the bakery, then the link to gather the ingredients together reset me back to the beginning of the scene, locked into an endless repetition that was horrifying enough but not, I think, what the author intended. Indeed, while the game nails the vibe, it’s in need of some polish beyond just bug-fixing. The prose is evocative, but has lots of typos and is occasionally awkward:

"The farm is run down, as you might begin to wonder that every part of this small, hidden town is. It’s hidden, tucked away so small that it doesn’t register on any of the local maps you’ve seen, but the merchants seem to know where it is."

With that coat of polish, I think this could be a fun, scary game – the contrast between the twee presentation and brutal reality is entertaining, and each of the little vignettes was engaging, with choices that invited me to push my luck (though admittedly the fact that I’d died and restarted a couple times by the time I hit the endless-butter bug, reducing my desire to try the whole thing yet again – since there are so many endings, many of them appearing to be bad ones, enabling undo would probably have been a good idea). So I’ll keep an eye out for a post-Comp release, as I don’t think I’ve yet had my fill.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A decadent and grimly humorous illustrated twine game about a terrible town, October 24, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This is a lavish Twine game that has you visit a town as an apprentice baker, set on making a cake for the town's Savings Day.

The real appeal of this game is the characters. You meet a variety of well-illustrated characters, each in a unique style that reminded me of Tim Burton or Ruby Gloom or the Haunted Mansion or even HxH's Palm. Each one has their own dark secrets to hide.

The game simultaneously has a lot of variety and very little. Every time, you must visit the same people to get the same things. But you do have a chance in how you treat them and what you discover. You even can choose from many endings, but all of the good endings have a lot of overlap.

There were some minor inconsistencies here and there (like the credits page softlocking the game by not offering a way out of it) that damped enjoyment, but this is one of my favorite games so far in terms of content, characters and art.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Who are these people???, October 14, 2022

For a while, this game appears to be a very straightforward quest to gather ingredients for baking. I got pretty far just using common sense, and since I hadn’t read the description, I didn’t know what genre it actually was. When I discovered another layer to the proceedings, it came hard out of left field. I didn’t make it to the end, so on my second playthrough, I was more conservative–which means that I didn’t make any choices to intentionally upset the locals. That worked. Then came the climactic finale. It was pretty satisfying–I would like to keep replaying just to see all the different possibilities in this scene alone. Also, I enjoyed going back to make bad choices, because even though it can cause the game to end early, some of the best moments came on these paths. And a third reason to keep replaying is that you can unlock “bonus endings.” There is a sentence that appears when this happens saying, “Seems like there’s more of these [bonus endings] than actual endings, doesn’t it.” I would recommend Let Them Eat Cake. My only wishes are that you could 1–save/load a game, and 2–have the game keep track of the endings you’ve found (the website will keep a count, but resets if when you leave the page).

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Bend and Snap Bakery, December 12, 2022
by JJ McC
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Adapted from an IFCOMP22 Review

Students of comedy and interested rubber-neckers like me are aware of a joke comedians tell each other called “the Aristocrats.” If you’ve never heard of it, do yourself a favor and watch the documentary about it (on AMZ Prime if that’s your garbage billionaire of choice). Ancillary to my reason for bringing it up, there was so much to Bob Saget most of us didn’t get to see. To the point here though, the joke hinges on the insanely wild disconnect between setup and punchline. Not just conceptually but narratively as well. However long and meandering the setup goes, the punchline is a whipcrack of two words. Thanks to Legally Blonde we can now call this the “Bend and Snap” effect. (I am loathe to dive deeper into “the Aristocrats” than that for those that haven’t seen the doc.)

There is another comedic tool, one we’re all familiar with: repetition. This has a lot of forms - escalation, recontextualization, deadpan emphasis, and its most overworked form, the callback. You’ll see all these variations a lot in televised comedy once you are sensitive to their use. It is tried and true. The callback in particular is the wobbly prop on which improv is built. I’m no statistician but 86.224% of improv skits end with a callback. SNL skits may be higher.

Since I’ve taken the time to steer the conversation this way, you may now be asking, “Reviewer, what if an IF work were to somehow put the two of those comedic devices together?” To which I would coyly touch the corner of my mouth with my pinkie and reply “Perhaps bake them together… IN A CAKE?” And now it is clear to you why I explain comedy instead of DO comedy.

LTEC presents as a vaguely-medieval or renaissance small village bakery setting. Your task is to assemble ingredients in a cake, with the gentlest of “and don’t be too nosy” as a caution. The author knows full well neither the protagonist nor player gives that advice a moment’s consideration. So off you trot, probably whistling, I’m pretty sure whistling, to the miller, farmer, neighbor and church. The presentation, in screen layout, in use of font and illustrations is I’m going with pastoral. It is nicely evocative of the Canterbury Tales of it all. The language is slightly formal but light and breezy, also of a piece.

Until you let curiosity get the better of you and SNAP (Spoiler - click to show)you are treated to an over-the-top horrific excess completely divorced from the pastoral amble you started with. Kind of like a David Lynch movie, if those didn’t start by telegraphing the utter creepiness of their seeming banality. And also played for laughs. So, nothing like a David Lynch movie. (Spoiler - click to show)And you probably die horrifically too. It’s fine, you can restart.

Then the piece builds on itself, echoing, recontextualizing and escalating, so that somehow it gets funnier each time as you try to anticipate where your why-can’t-I-just-resist curiosity pokes free. That’s the game: go fetch the flour! Bend… and Snap. Now the eggs! Bend… and Snap. Now the milk, sugar! Bendbend… and Snapsnap! Fine! you say. I’ll put my blinders on and just make the damn cake! At which point, the finale finally breaks down and invokes a callback that ALSO rockets into a whole new level of narrative leap. BEND AND SNAP M-FER!!! Repetition!

I really liked my playthrough, I thought it built on itself marvelously, and had me trying things I DEFINITELY didn’t want the protagonist to do just to see what would happen. (Spoiler - click to show)I died a lot, learning stuff as I went. Comedy is super-precise though. I couldn’t help but wonder if the building effect that was bouying me along so actively was really just a happy accident of my choices. If I’d made different choices would the repetition not have felt like escalation at all, but deflation? Is every judge getting the same potent dose of comedy? Seems like they wouldn’t have to?

It’s not seamless. There are some screen layout issues where the illustrations (just lovely - also pastoral with an unsettling edge to them) corrupt the choice prompts and make them hard to click. There are narrative paths that reconverge and reuse text in a frictiony way. (Spoiler - click to show)And the restart after dying mechanism. After you’ve experienced the worst of a particular sub-quest, had a good laugh at it, then just want to get your ingredients - it was a fairly clicky prospect that no longer had any surprises for you. And God forbid you (Spoiler - click to show)die after having collected 2 or 3 ingredients. You have to do it all over again! A much better design decision would be to introduce a “Just collect X option” after you’ve managed it one time. It really introduced a drag into the experience.

Lastly a note about Engagement. From an IF perspective, the Achilles’ Heel of these two comedy tropes is that they are appreciated at a Meta, not Immersive level. This is not gentle character-based comedy or acerbic personality driven comedy. These are metajokes which work best when NOT engaged. So Sparks for me!

Quick shout out to that cover picture, btw. Chef’s kiss.

Played: 11/6/22
Playtime: 20min, 1/8 endings; 3/? bonus endings
Artistic/Technical rankings: Sparks of Joy, Notable
Would Play Again? No, experience seems complete

Artistic scale: Bouncy, Mechanical, Sparks of Joy, Engaging, Transcendent
Technical scale: Unplayable, Intrusive, Notable (Bugginess), Mostly Seamless, Seamless

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