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Appealing but underbaked, January 6, 2023
(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.