Secret Shelf: Bread & Fred is the squishy-faced, adorable end of your friendships

Secret Shelf: Bread & Fred is the squishy-faced, adorable end of your friendships
Images: SandCastles Studio

Written by 

Joseph Kime

Published 

18th Sep 2023 16:50

Some games will tear you apart, and they'll revel in the thrill of it.

It's hardly a secret at this stage that there are titles in the gaming world that lavish in the most brutal experiences, drawing their players into an unfathomable rage that truly knocks them sideways. But, then again, players just keep coming back for more punishment, and there's little to keep their heads out of the game when they've been threatened with beating a level they've struggled with.

Even getting help from a pal won't ease worries in many of these cases, with the likes of Overcooked pushing stresses to the extreme even when you've got a pal to comfort you. There are nightmares buried even with a friend by your side - but it doesn't seem as though there's enough to take advantage of this friendship in the industry. There's potential for a game that uses the fire that keeps your civility alive to burn it all to the ground.

And it looks like that game is finally here. The ultimate friendship test has arrived - and it's a bundle of penguins on a bold journey that will tear you apart.

Bread & Fred is the soft and squishy friendship detonator

Your closest connections are under threat by two baby boys, and their caregivers, the development team at Sandcastles Studio, is perfectly willing to watch them do it.

Bread & Fred follows two squishy-looking penguin pals tasked with one simple mission - make it to the snowy summit of a mountain, all while tethered together with some tough rope. And it's these gooey little goobers that will be destroying your friendships.

"We love co-operative games, especially co-operative games where you can yell at each other and still have fun," confesses Sandcastle Studios' artist and designer Victor Valiente, which is a pretty solid mission statement for the game that gives players the chance to claw back their mistakes, but in equal measure, succumb to them and collapse down a mountainside.

"As Victor said," jibes level designer, Guillem Romero, "we are really fans of these kind of party games like Overcooked where you get really angry with your partner, and that was something we really liked about the game. On games like Jump King or Getting Over It you get really angry with yourself, and now with Bread & Fred you can get really angry with your partner, "because it's all their fault, not yours."

It's clear that the rage that is born of Bread & Fred is by design, and its developers languish in its chaos, making the fury all the more palpable in gameplay - and players are obsessed with it. But to be fair, they've been obsessed for some time.

Bread & Fred have already won over TikTok - and their favourite streamer

Many fans' first introduction to the pixellated penguins was on TikTok, as videos of the game's friendship-shattering antics have reached as much as 3.3 million likes, with each spreading far and wide and taking the game with them.

"TikTok exploded in December, we had some followers and some community made up, but it was in last year at the end that we really exploded," says Valiente. "It made us a little bit worried because we had so much expectation with the game."

"It gave us a lot of pressure," says Romero, "because now the game is really well-known and we have this feeling of 'would it be good enough for all these new people coming in from TikTok?'. In the end, I think it works pretty well, so we're really happy with meeting the expectations."

It doesn't end there, though, as there are personal connections to the success of the game too, as the man who inspired the game in the first place ended up picking it up too.

"The idea of Bread & Fred came from the streamer Ludwig - he was playing a fan game similar to Jump King just for him, and we were watching it and we were thinking 'yeah, we can make this for sure,'" chuckles Valiente. "I was very happy to see Ludwig play the actual demo of the game. It was like, yeah, going full circle."

Bread & Fred is the peak of the Foddian genre

We've seen many games like Bread & Fred, but none can come together to generate stress that shouldered by two. This simple shift in approach has led to the creation of a game that we've never seen the likes of before, and it has the potential to be the next big thing - even before then, it's clear that the polish that SandCastles Studio has applied to the game is second to none. Plus, now that the game's Super Duper Ultra Redux Mixtape DLC is here, it's about to get bigger, nastier and more infuriating than ever. Just how we like it.

It seems very much as though we could have some new indie superstars on our hands, and they're incredibly worthy of the support they've garnered so far. Now it's time for the rest of the world to see it.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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