Toast Time is a crazy mess of breakfast-themed digital madness. I fell heavily in warm toasty love when seeing the game in preview earlier this year. This week, I’ve had some time with the (near) final game to get my teeth sunk into the whole loaf and to see how well baked the final product is. I may have been occasionally frustrated, but I wasn’t disappointed.
• Developer: Force of Habit
• Publisher: Force of Habit
• Reviewed on: Android
• Also Available On: (Coming soon for iOS)
• Release Date: Available Now
A physics-based shooter this may be, but logic-based it is not. The main character TERRY — who’s name, Toast Ejecting Recoil and Reload sYstem, makes no sense — is a toaster on a mission.
Firing warm bread products from TERRY’s red hot slots propels him in the opposite direction to the direction the toasted projectile is traveling. You start out with the ability to shoot standard bread slices and unlock more bready goodness as you pick up more crates when successfully completing missions. Each new breakfast bread item behaves differently with the likes of; baguettes that can be fired into the ground to form temporary barriers, quickfire breadcrumbs, bouncing crumpets, homing homemade slices and toasties that split in two. All change the object shot, once you have successfully picked up a crate during a level, and each object will propel TERRY differently based on the size and velocity of the object fired.
While it is a game that is built around a shooting mechanic, the end result is almost more akin to a puzzle game. Frequently levels seem to have a sweet spot, one particular place to stay that will dramatically increase you chances of successfully shooting all the bad monster things and preventing them from reaching your clock – which for some unknown breakfasty reason you have been charged with protecting to prevent them stealing your free time.
Most levels have endless numbers of enemies pouring towards your precious clock and, when in doubt the default tactic is to get yourself into the top corner of the screen and fire down into the opposite corner. This will only be successful on a number of levels and even then, only by careful management of wayward monsters. Other levels see multiple sweet spots that need to be skilfully transitioned between or barriers and platforms blocking the natural position you want to be in or blocking you in entirely should you stray off course. Other levels are better suited to staying on one plane and shooting everyone left and right of you while staying on the same platform – which is easier said than done.
The game is divided into 5 zones, each with their own theme and background. Each zone has a particularly challenging slice in the middle that limits the number of slices that can be fired and you must clear this challenge to unlock the final level of each zone.
Graphically, Toast Time is difficult to describe without referencing retro resources and, while accurate, it may not be particularly helpful to describe it as “similar to BBC Micro graphics” – aside from the old Brit gits like me that first gamed on these in old 80’s schools. The monochromatic style has all in-game objects, characters and fired ammunition in white with varying, highly coloured backgrounds throughout. It may be an acquired taste, but one my gaming palette has definitely acquired. That said, it can make matters more than a bit confusing to try and quickly locate TERRY in a snowstorm of monsters and breakfast breads.
With many of the levels requiring some hectic firing, the random dropping of the crates seems a little unfair at times. If a much needed weapon upgrade falls on a high ledge or other hard to reach place, a “good run” will quickly become a stale sourdough overrun with clock munching monsters. Levels are typically less than a minute in length and the temptation to have one more go is generally high, although with some levels bordering on the side of frustration – as attempts rapidly crumble into failures, the ability to bounce around to other unlocked levels is welcome. The satisfaction of clearing a level, that when starting, seemed almost impossible, is the joyful, rewarding sense of triumph that good video games are made of.
The slice of British sense of humour may not be to everyone’s tastes and some of the references may be missed by people that are not of my age — a Kia Ora ad reference anyone? — but I am of my age. I ate up all the bread-related zaniness and obscure British references that Toast Time had to serve up – which is why I am a little sad to report that it feels like it ends a little soon with 45 levels in total. That said, there are still some challenges that evade me and a three star rating on each level encourages replays of levels to obtain better scores. There is also a survival mode that tasks you with playing through a set selection of levels with online worldwide leaderboards.
Toast Time‘s happy facade helps mask a tough, unforgiving, challenging reflex shooter where levels need to be solved. This is best achieved in a hail of white-toasted destruction, but knowing which way to aim, and when and where you need to be shooting from, are decisions that need to be made and may need to be modified on the fly based on the weaponry that you pick up. It adds up to a unique enjoyable breakfast recipe.
It seems harsh to say that the £1.99 price point is a little high, but in an Android market flooded with fun free-to-play games and a host of great games at the 69p price point , it may be a barrier to entry for some. It is however half-price for the first week and for less than the cost of a loaf of bread, it becomes an even easier recommendation.