Stephen’s Sausage Roll

OK, yes, I’ve taken the bait. My impression from pre-release screenshots and the like was that Stephen’s Sausage Roll was going to be just another entry in the burgeoning genre of little Puzzlescript-like puzzle games — a genre that the author is no stranger to, as he’s the creator of Puzzlescript. (SSR even uses the same hotkeys!) But the price point seemed awfully high for that. So I asked around, and found out about its testimonials, and now I’ve bought the thing. I suppose you could accuse me of falling prey to the bottled water fallacy, of valuing it more simply because it’s more expensive. But I kind of want there to be more of a market for premium puzzle games, so I’m doing my part to support that.

Also, I did quite like the previous commercial release by the same author, English Country Tune, even if I never completed it. That one got very difficult.

SSR pretty much starts out that way. There are no “beginner” levels that indirectly tutorialize the mechanics; you’re just thrown into the deep end (he says, not yet knowing how deep the real deep end is). There’s a plaque near your initial position that describes the controls, but it seems like something of a joke, because you need to use the controls it describes to reach it. The first few levels are small, but that means they’re cramped, and it’s difficult to make a single move without nudging a sausage into the abyss. Making any progress at all requires multiple non-obvious realizations about basic movement.

The basic mechanics: Your goal on each level is to cook a group of very large sausages by pushing them onto grills, Sokoban-style. (This is not explained explicitly in the game, but once you see what a grill tile does to a sausage, it’s pretty obvious what you’re meant to do.) Sausages are two tiles in size, and both tiles must be cooked. Furthermore, each sausage-tile must be cooked on both sides: pushing a sausage latitudinally rolls it over. Many block-pushing games make a point of removing blocks that have reached their final destination or otherwise been fully processed. That does not happen here, and cooked sausages can become serious obstacles, because pushing a cooked side onto a grill burns it and loses the level, although just leaving a sausage on a grill does not burn it. You have a fork permanently fixed to your front, which can be useful for poking sausages off grills (which are impassible), but which is always in danger of delivering pushes you don’t want. The way it swings as you turn reminds me a little of DROD, even though it controls completely differently. After cooking all the sausages, you have to return to your starting point. I’ve seen one level so far that makes that the hard part, by making it so that the obvious way to cook the sausages leaves them in positions that you can’t get past without smacking them with your fork and burning them.

And that’s about all I have to say for now, because I haven’t yet gotten far enough in to make grand pronouncements about what it all means. Hopefully I’ll be able to make enough progress to say more in my next post, but the prospect feels daunting and even a little menacing right now.

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