Back To Bed tells the story of a sleepwalker named Bob and his ‘dreamdog Bob’ (it's some sort of dog’s model with the face of Bob). that has to guide him through his dreams. It's a puzzle game at heart inspired and influenced by games like Monument Valley, Echochrome and The Bridge, games that were in turn inspired by the Dutch artist M.C. Escher.
This means that the game allows you to walk on things like walls - things that aren’t physically possible for us humans (not without any help at least) - and huge, watchful eyes and flying hats soaring through the air are very common in this game, too. In short; things that don’t make any sense, like most of our dreams. Welcome to Back To Bed. (edit: the review continues)
The goal is to bring Bob back to bed (hence the title) and to do this you have to help him by picking up and placing apples scattered across the environment. Every time Bob encounters an apple he will walk clockwise. There are only a limited amount of apples available in every level so sometimes you have to quickly move the apples around. In the later levels the levels are twisted in that famous M.C. Escher kind of way, making it deceivingly hard to navigate quickly. Moving objects and items like walking clocks and blowing steam pipes are also added to the mix later and as a result require that you both act and think fast in order to overcome the challenges presented to you.
There is a restart/retry button and in the beginning you’re wondering why it’s there. There are no disadvantages to dying/letting Bob fall off (i.e. unintentionally waking him up) until later in the game, where you can get hit by trains or fall down tiles and once that happens it’s an instant failure and you have to retry the level.
There’s a small bug whenever you fail by colliding with an object (which results in the Retry/Quit menu appearing). In order to navigate through the menu you obviously have to use your controller (or mouse) but if you use a controller (like me) it also still moves around your character. Nothing big or even game breaking but something I wanted to mention nevertheless.
And another thing I’d like to mention is the fact it sometimes is hard to see the depth of a level. I’ve had multiple times where I thought Bob would walk properly on to the next part of a level except to see him fall off seconds later.
The graphics aren’t as colorful as stylish as the games I previously mentioned but it has a charm of its own. It all still looks nice, just not amazing. The changing background is a nice touch, and everything else is nicely animated as well, with all kinds of objects moving in the background.
I do think the camera is zoomed in too far, because you have a much better overview when it’s entirely zoomed out. But it’s probably done this way to you a connection to the characters instead of just putting it high up there and letting it become ‘just another quirky puzzle’ game. It’s just too bad that these characters have no real depth and we know nothing about them, nor do we ever learn anything about them during our journey.
At first I thought the ‘narrator’ was just poorly chosen because the way he tells you about things (objectives, warnings) is done in a slow and unnatural manner, spoken with a deep voice. But the more I thought about it the more I changed that opinion (especially because later on it starts to twist everyday words). I still don’t think it’s the best voice out there, but they did manage to evoke a feeling of creepiness and something you could come up with in your dreams. The music itself is slow, as if time is slowing down. Combined together, they actually work very well.
Unfortunately it’s a pretty short game and just when you think the game is starting to throw some tougher puzzles your way it abruptly ends after finishing only two worlds. Completing these two worlds will take you 90-120 minutes I think. After that you can try the Nightmare mode. Now, this mode doesn’t unlock any new puzzles (as far as I know, at least) but they ‘remix’ the levels by letting you first collect a key before you can get through the door towards Bob’s bed. It’s harder and obviously meant for the die hard puzzle fans out there (or those who just want to play more of it/can’t get enough of it) and I think you can add another 1-2 hours to the total amount of playtime here. It’s not much, but still, more gameplay is always welcome I guess. Unless it’s a bad game. In that case, it’s never a good thing.
Back To Bed is a cute experimental puzzle game that I’d like to see more of in the future. Change up the graphics a little bit to match the unique puzzle style and make the puzzles more like the ones we’re presented near the end of the game. And above all, make it bigger.
In the meantime this will do nicely. Very nicely in fact.
So, I think a nice PSA seems to be appropriate here:
Attention to all M.C. Escher and puzzle lovers out there: Back To Bed might not the biggest game out there, but it is a game with a big heart and one that deserves your attention.