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TikTok showed me an adorable co-op platformer called Bread & Fred

Fall flat on your face time and time again

Art for the co-op platformer Bread and Fred. The illustration shows two penguins. There is a rope attaching the two to each other. One is standing on a rocky ledge and is letting the other jump off the ledge. Image: SandCastles Studio/Apogee Entertainment

In Bread & Fred, you’re tied to another penguin by a very short rope, and you’ll need some serious teamwork to make the climb. So, Ana and I (Nicole) are taking on our impressions together, as a team. Think of this story as the rope tying us together to bring you our thoughts on the game’s chaotic platforming. We’re each writing a paragraph and then letting the other take over; Ana’s paragraphs will be in italics.

Bread & Fred was released in May by a three-person indie team called SandCastles Studio, and it has been hugely popular on TikTok since. It’s a game that’s perfect for the internet in the same ways Fall Guys or Overcooked are: It requires skill, but even the worst players are rewarded with slapstick animations of squished penguins and hilarious falls.

I can only take a step or two until the rope goes taught, and I’m stuck in place until my partner makes progress on their end. Actions like basic jumps to a nearby platform require a level of coordination sometimes hindered by stream latency and potential lag in voice chat. My partner and I stay in constant communication. All of this just so that we can climb a few measly meters.

An image of two penguins tied together by a rope in Bread and Fred. They are walking along an icy platform while climbing up a mountain. Image: SandCastles Studio/Apogee Entertainment

It’s hard. The platforming looks relatively simple, but deceptively so. What looks to be simply jumping over gaps is made complicated by the short rope. Thankfully, Bread & Fred does have several options to make the game more approachable — one crucial example is a checkpoint system that you can turn on in the options menu. It allows you to put a flag in the ground, which acts as a spawn point if you make one disastrous fall. (We made plenty of those as we started our journey up the mountain.) Bread & Fred also has a handy in-game countdown timer, too, which became essential for precise, coordinated leaps, but we developed our own system for areas that required one of us to anchor on a platform while the other swung wildly to get enough force to fling both penguins to the next step.

We don’t ascend the mountain very quickly, but the game slowly begins to click. We move in sync, and eventually, each of our penguins looks like a veritable shadow of the other. After dozens of tries, we make an extra-long jump that requires precise timing both on the part of the anchor penguin and the swinging penguin. (No one gets to slack off on this climb!) We use these swinging physics to fling us both to a cave wall. I hold on to the wall while my penguin partner swings to the other side. After completing an extensive series of difficult jumps, our penguins give each other a thumbs-up, and we proudly put a flag in the ground to mark our progress.

An image of two penguins climbing a mountain. The two are tied together by a short rope. One is clinging to the wall of a cave and the other is swinging by a rope. Image: SandCastles Studio/Apogee Entertainment

It’s super satisfying to get to those points and to celebrate, but Bread & Fred is almost even more fun to watch someone else play — you get to luxuriate in someone else’s mistakes. This is where its popularity on TikTok and other social media platforms comes in; you get all of the goofs and none of the face-first falling. People like to joke about the game ruining friendships, something akin to Mario Party. That sort of engagement is a big part of the fun of it all, watching or playing, creating moments where you can poke fun at your friends and celebrate your big wins.

Bread & Fred is available to play on Windows PC via Steam. It’s got online multiplayer and remote play, as well as a single-player mode.

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