The world of video-games has often been used as a way of escaping the harsh reality of real life for a lot of players. It’s only fitting that the very art style in puzzle title Back to Bed seems inspired by the surrealism movement that tried to combine reality with dreams.
In Back to Bed players take on the role of a dog like creature called Subob that is guiding the sleeping walking Bob around various obstacles within his dreams. The idea is for Subob, the subconscious guardian, to guide Bob back to the safety of his dream bed. At first guiding this narcoleptic (someone that can fall asleep at any point of a day) is an easy feat given the game’s insistence on spending the first couple of levels getting players used to the game mechanics. The main idea is that Bob automatically walks around the dream place and it is up to Subob to gently guide him towards the bed. With this in mind, the guardian is given various gimmicks to aid it in completing the task.
One of the more prominent gimmicks comes in the form of a green apple that can be set down on the ground to get Bob to walk in a different direction. As levels get more complex, other gimmicks become available, such as one that serves as a plank to get Bob to cross short gaps. Whilst making use of the limited amount of tools that are introduced with level progression is easy, it ends up making the levels feel too simple.
Whereas it does take a couple of attempts to figure out the solution for puzzles in later levels, it is still not enough to make them a worthy challenge. Even if it is somewhat satisfying to sometimes see Bob head towards the intended direction that will lead him to a comfy bed. The main downside to making it so simple is that the limited amount of levels available don’t take that long to complete.
At least the title has the sensible idea of just resetting Bob’s position to the start of the level whenever he falls off a platform. It makes it far less likely for a player to get annoyed with having to restart the puzzle when not being made to go through a restart menu. However, it is still necessary to restart a level the traditional way under certain circumstances, such as when a dog catches Bob in some of the levels.
The addition of a fast-forward button to make Bob move faster is also very useful to quickly try different approaches to solving a puzzle. Although it is often the case that the simplest approach is the most effective way to complete a level. Not even the addition of “nightmare” versions of the original levels make for much of a challenge – given that the only main apparent change is that players must guide Bob to collect a key before moving on to the exit.
Where Back to Bed excels in is the use of its striking surrealism like visuals to both represent the dream world and to make playing the levels feel more unique. The guardian is able to defy the laws of physics simply by climbing up some stairs and finding itself walking on a side platform. There are also times where visual aids are used to trick the player’s mind into making it difficult to view certain parts of a level. It’s good to witness the title occasionally attempt to find creative ways to try to challenge players that go beyond the usual obstacles.
In fact, the surrealism like art style is easily one of the best reasons for playing the title. The use of everyday objects that have been modified to fit in with the dream world make for some interesting backgrounds for the different levels. In a way, it feels like playing an interactive version of a Salvador Dali painting.
It’s possible to make use of the GamePad’s screen to play every level and no critical issues were found whilst doing so. However, it seems like there is no audio when playing the title on the GamePad. The soundtrack is used to help players relax and goes mostly unnoticed, but it still seems like an unusual oversight.
Whilst the unique visuals make it appealing to escape into this dream reality, there is no denying that the puzzles still feel somewhat too simple. It certainly doesn’t help that there are only a handful of levels and they are then recycled to be used in the “nightmare” mode. Regardless, Back to Bed can still offer an enjoyable escape away from reality, even if like a dream, it only manages to do so for a brief amount of time.