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Let Them Eat Cake

by Alicia Morote

Horror
2022

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


Awards

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

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Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


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 Ė youíre 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 grandmaís old recipe cards, and the portraits of your various neighbors depicted in an appealingly ugly-cute style.

It doesnít take long for things to curdle, though, since this Twine game isnít so much folksy as folk horror. The most benign of the villagers is the one who did in her daughterís fiancť with rat poison; itís best not to pry into what the farmerís 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 festivalÖ

Well, I donít, 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, itís 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. Itís hidden, tucked away so small that it doesnít register on any of the local maps youíve seen, but the merchants seem to know where it is."

With that coat of polish, I think this could be a fun, scary game Ė 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 Iíd 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 Ė since there are so many endings, many of them appearing to be bad ones, enabling undo would probably have been a good idea). So Iíll keep an eye out for a post-Comp release, as I donít think Iíve 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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