Puzzle Game Stephen’s Sausage Roll Makes Anxiety Fun
This wonderful new puzzle game for Windows and Mac by prolific independent developer Stephen Lavelle is, as the name suggests, about rolling sausages. You play as a small person with a big fork, trapped on an island full of sausages. And grilles. You must cook the sausages to perfection, one grid puzzle at a time.
The game, rendered in a basic polygonal style that feels borrowed from a Windows 95 screensaver, wraps its devious challenges in a healthy dose of absurdism. Nothing about it invites—or rewards—deep inquiry.
Why am I on this island? To cook sausages.
Why am I cooking sausages? Because.
Will I ever eat the sausages? Stop asking silly questions.
But make no mistake: The challenges are devious. Hard puzzle games often vex me, and Stephen’s Sausage Roll is no different. Using an artfully awkward control scheme, you must guide your avatar around tiny grids, nudging sausages with your fork to place them on grill plates. Cook each sausage well, meaning placing each of four, er, meat quadrants on a grill plate exactly once, and you’ve solved the puzzle. You can fail in two ways: burning the sausage, or knocking it into the water.
This is not nearly so simple as it sounds. You move like a tank and have the reach of a baby bunny. Even the simplest challenges require thoughtful planning and careful maneuvering, lest your perfect breakfast careen into the sea.
It’s easy to get frustrated with Stephen’s Sausage Roll, and I very nearly bounced right off of it. But something about the game’s mood and almost Dadaist focus kept me from giving up. And like all good puzzle games, I eventually found a hook, a puzzle I could master. It takes only one, and then the others begin to open up, bringing the tantalizing promise of success to the frequent frustration of failure. It’s pure brainteasing goodness, easy to understand but nearly impossible to master.
I’ve spent most of my time with this game anxious and attentive, rolling sausages in my mind’s eye, nudging them on screen bit by bit. Slowly, solutions emerge. Anxiety gives way to satisfaction, which gives way to still more anxiety, propelling me forward. Tension, release. Tension, release.
I don’t expect to ever beat Stephen’s Sausage Roll, but that won’t stop me from recommending it. Unlike The Witness, which muddled its message with pretentious framing and unfriendly design, Increpare’s latest is smart and welcoming. It’s a loving ode to puzzles and the people who love them. If you check it out, be sure to eat something first.
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