A major trend that has come to light in recent years is the process of updating flash games into fully fleshed out games for paid releases. We’ve seen it work with the likes of Super Meat Boy, and now the experimental puzzle game Back to Bed has gotten the retail treatment. But was this game worth the update or should it have stayed on the Internet?
Back to Bed (PC [Reviewed], Mac, Linux)
Developer: Bedtime Digital Games
Publisher: Bedtime Digital Games
Release Date: August 6th 2014
In Back to Bed you play as Subob, the subconscious manifestation of the narcoleptic sleepwalker Bob. Since Bob is prone to falling asleep anywhere at any time, your duty as Subob is to guide him through puzzles to get–well–back to bed. If you fail, he might just walk off the edge of a building, or in front of a train, or into a killer alarm clock.
The game world is a surreal mixture of Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher. Puzzles manage to incorporate elements from both of these artists. You’ll find yourself walking on walls one moment, then completing a geometry puzzle by linking two platforms that fool your sense of perspective. Overall, I wish there were more geometry puzzles, but the ones there are pretty mind-boggling, but not impossible.
Gameplay is as simple as walking around, picking up objects, and setting them down. There are a few other actions for ease of playing, such as a zoom in/zoom out and a fast-forward button, but they’re non-essential. All your tasks are accomplished by simply placing objects in the environment. Setting an apple in Bob’s path makes him turn clockwise (AKA “right”), while the aforementioned fish can bridge platforms together and cover up nasty man-eating manholes. Frankly, I’m kind of amazed I just used the phrase “nasty man-eating manholes.”
Many of the puzzles in the main game have straightforward solutions which come as a result of trial-and-error. If Bob walks off the edge, he just goes right back to his starting position, so experimenting with different tactics is seamless. However, if he wanders into any other obstacle, a brief dying animation will play, followed by a prompt to restart the level. It takes a few seconds every time that happens, which can really break your concentration.
That being said, that’s really my only complaint with Back to Bed. It’s not as artistic as it purports to be, and after you’ve completed the first two worlds you’ve seen everything the game has to offer. After all, the last two worlds are just the first two worlds but with keys scattered around the levels, but it’s otherwise an entirely inoffensive game. The mechanics work as intended, the puzzles are neither too easy nor too obtuse, and it makes for a nice afternoon diversion.
For $6 I’d definitely recommend it. Back to Bed isn’t going to change the gaming landscape, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. If you crave some geometry puzzles with a unique aesthetic and a reverse-talking narrator, then this is for you. Just be sure to play it with a controller.