At first glance, Stephen’s Sausage Roll looks like a casual puzzle game made for children. Dig a little deeper however and you’ll quickly learn not to judge a sausage by its cover.
After only a few minutes play, it becomes quite apparent this is a deceptively and extremely difficult game. For those not interested in the genre, this should be taken as a warning. To fans who enjoy nothing more than the hair-pulling frustration of a stunningly difficult puzzler, it’s both an invitation and a welcome challenge.
The player operates a little man — let’s call him Stephen — who walks around a tiled-based island holding a set of large sausage prongs. There are no special controls, just left and right, forwards and backwards. The most important control is a very handy undo button, which will take you back as many steps as you need.
The aim is simple. As Stephen approaches marked sections of the island, the entire map falls away save for the current puzzle’s play area. Stephen has to roll a number of sausages around the area, pushing them over large grills on the ground to perfectly sear both sides of each sausage. Each section of the two-tile long sausages has to be grilled once on each side; any more causes burns and the level is failed. Pushing sausages off the edge of the map also results in a fail.
Stephen himself takes up one tile, and the prong another. As such it’s both a help and a hindrance — as the player turns, the prong will push any sausages it strikes. Just as much of the game involves manoeuvring the prong safely as it does actually rolling sausages.
If the game sounds overly simple, that’s because it is. And herein lies the beauty of Stephen’s Sausage Roll. It’s easy to learn, difficult to master. There’s no tutorial, no hand-holding, and no progression in difficulty levels. There’s no jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire here — you’re dropped firmly into the proverbial flames from the very beginning.
Later levels involve a small number of extra mechanics, primarily focused on skewering sausages with the prongs to shift them around rather than rolling and pushing. It comes as quite a shock to finally complete enough puzzles to unlock the next stage, only to discover an even greater challenge.
It’s probably a good thing that the game’s graphics and music, while very simple, evoke a real feeling of serenity and calmness. Stephen wanders an island where a soft breeze blows over from the ocean, and sausages roll gently over grassy fields of flowers. It’s a rather surreal experience, rolling giant sausages around an island, but thematically fits the puzzles perfectly.
This isn’t a game for everybody. It’s brutally difficult and requires incredible patience and lateral thinking. However for puzzle aficionados interested in a casual but challenging experience, Stephen’s Sausage Roll is one of the best puzzlers available.
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