By: Ted Chow
Made by Kickstarter backer support, Back to Bed is an isometric puzzler that is made for the casual player or children in mind. With the unique concept of moving in a dream world that defies physics and normal conventions, Back to Bed is one game that brings about a story for bedtime feel all the way through.
The controls utilize only a few of the inputs on the controller and are essentially all that is needed to do most of the required actions. Most of the actions you perform are reactionary to the main character’s sleep walking path. With the foot path given to you ahead of time, you can prepare to place objects in order to change Bob’s path. Overall, everything is as you would expect in controlling a character in an isometric view.
If there was one thing that stands out with Back to Bed, it would have to be the children’s storybook feel of the visual presentation. And when you combine that with the dream-like design of the world, you will get yourself an Alice in Wonderland type of surrealism. From the vertical wall climbing to the flying chess pieces, everything in the game felt fresh.
While minimalistic and not as flashy as most games, the subtle nature of the art brings a level of curiosity and immersion. The soundtrack is not as pervasive and is more a quiet addition rather than a main centerpiece of the game’s allure.
If you are familiar to the old Lemmings games, the overall idea is similar in Back to Bed as you help navigate Bob back to his bed. There will be items such as giant green apples and fish surfboards that will change Bob’s movement pattern, allowing you to solve the puzzle of the map. The puzzles themselves may require multiple ways to interact with the same items in order to find the correct solution. Once you’ve reached the bed you will be able to progress to the next zone.
While the objective is relatively clear, the obstructions that hinder your progress can be thought provoking. Enemies such as walking alarm clocks, wind pipes, dogs and whale trains can make some levels more difficult than others. Some enemies, such as the clocks, are easy to deal with as they can fall off the ledge, but things like dogs and wind pipes are constant threats throughout out the level. Quick and nimble reactions may be needed in order to execute the most optimal string of actions required to evade the obstacles.
The overall feel of the game is pretty casual by nature as the concept of death is not incorporated into Back to Bed. Falling off the cliff does not result in a permanent loss in progress; instead, Bob will simply respawn at his starting location to replay his same motion onto infinity.
It will be up to the player to determine his route and the progression to the next level. Certain obstacles such as the whale trains or man-eater floors do prompt a continue screen, but there is no difference between starting the level over and Bob normally respawning once he walks over a cliff. At any time the player can save his progress and go back to the main menu screen and replay past levels if they so choose.
While Back to Bed may feel limited in modes, and the progression from level to level can start to feel stagnant through extended play, the charm factor and aesthetic appeal is there. The level designs are intricate and outwardly creative. It may not appeal to everybody, but Back to Bed is a friendly game for families with children and those that genuinely like puzzlers.