Cake Bash Review
Reviewed on Sony PlayStation 4Also available on Google Stadia, Microsoft Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
High Tea Frog's debut release Cake Bash is a family-friendly party game that sees you battling it out as your favourite baked goods to be crowned the tastiest cake of them all. From doughnuts and eclairs to muffins and sponge cakes, there's a delicious treat to suit everyone's tastes, and with continued gameplay unlocking even more flavours and designs for each of them, you can customise your cutesy character to your liking before heading into each match. Offline play against bots, local / couch multiplayer and online play against other players worldwide are all available, so if you think you can handle the heat, read on to find out whether Cake Bash is worth, well, a bash.
The main mode of Cake Bash is "Get Tasty", a multi-faceted competition consisting of four bash rounds, three minigames and four opportunities to go topping shopping. There are five bash rounds and eight minigames in the game in total, and in each match of Get Tasty, bashes are randomly selected while random pairs of minigames are presented to you to vote for. You may find yourself destined to lob the most fruit pieces into the pie in Fruity Pie, or to smash the most fortune cookies to pieces in Cookie Bash; meanwhile, in the minigames department, you might opt for marshmallow-toasting simulator Campfire, or wasp-swatting extravaganza Wasp Attack. Voting is as simple as walking over to the menu displaying the round of your choosing and pressing X, so while waiting to begin, you should take a moment to enjoy the bizarre and hilarious sight of smacking your competitors around with your doodle arms using Square. Especially when playing against bots, there's just something incredibly gratifying about giving the one that's been giving you grief a good slap.
How well you do in each of the bash rounds and minigames determines how many coins you earn, with three being the minimum and seven the maximum in a standard four-player game. To become the tastiest treat and the overall winner, you must spend your hard-earnt coins on as many toppings as you can to increase your appeal to your potential buyer. Purchasing three of the same topping causes them to become a "combo topping", which for a standard topping costing four coins is worth 50 points, and for a premium one costing six coins, a whopping 100 points. If you're skint, the gumball machine retails toppings for a mere two coins, but be warned; these toppings are more likely to be downright despicable than desirable. Each junk topping sees your score depleted by 40 points, so unless you're rolling in coins to pay to remove them, the risk is barely worth the reward. Spending your coins wisely is therefore the key to winning games; even if on the back foot, you may be able to turn things around if racking up those combo toppings.
The gameplay of Cake Bash is fun and fluid, utilising simple controls that make the game highly accessible to players of all ages. Aside from movement with the left joystick, all that you need to remember is that X allows you to pick up and throw items, Circle allows you to dash, tapping Square initiates light attacks, and long presses of Square perform megabashes, which can be incredibly useful for stalling your opponents or knocking items from their hands.
Each of the playable level environments has their own quirks that throw an extra layer of difficulty into the mix; Birthday has disappearing cake slices, Patio sports an ever-pecking pigeon, and the Beach crabs and balls require players to craft their own strategies for overcoming them. All give Cake Bash an extra degree of skill-based gameplay, and mean that it's not only the other players that you have to worry about.
If the screenshots above haven't already clued you in, Cake Bash is an incredibly cute game with drawn-on limbs and facial features for all of its confectionary characters. It is remarkable how expressive these doodle-like faces are, and how closely you feel some of the displayed emotions yourself while getting pushed around and beaten up by the competition. The adorable character models combined with the bright and colourful visuals make the game immediately appealing to a younger audience, but also attractive to fans of party games in general. The level environments in many cases are in stark contrast to the actual gameplay items, being much more realistic and authentic for the style of locations they represent. That said, I don't think anyone will be tricked into believing that the cake in Birthday is really a chunk of the moon.
While the audio tracks for each bash and minigame are well-designed and funky enough to hum along to, and the sound effects are consistent with the style of the game, I did find myself wondering about the menu music. It felt jarring and repetitive despite its upbeat and bouncy disposition, and I found myself turning the volume of my TV down if needing to wait in the lobby for a while rather than passively listening as I normally would in other games. Other minor grievances include the fact that light punches still occur if releasing Square after having a megabash interrupted, and that trophies / achievements unlock on the account playing the game in every case, even if the player who completes the requirements is logged into their own account on the system. Though the devs have confirmed that this last scenario is by design, it may frustrate passionate trophy / achievement hunters like myself who value completing the requirements themselves.
My main concern for Cake Bash is that while it has lots of potential as a fun, fast-paced party game, it feels light on content and its progression is limited. Once all bashes and minigames have been played in Get Tasty, they can be replayed at will in the Recipe section of the game, and when all toppings have been purchased and all level environments played on more than three times, all flavours and designs become accessible, meaning there is very little left to work towards. Playing the same five bashes and eight minigames is likely to become stale even with an entertaining group of friends to enjoy them with, so I do hope further bashes and minigames may be added in a future post-launch update.
On the whole, I'd recommend Cake Bash if you're looking for a new, cute party game to jump into. Matches of Get Tasty are relatively brief (no longer than 20 minutes), the Recipe section allows for easy practice and even quicker face-offs in specific bashes and minigames, and the variety of methods of play mean that there is a lot of flexibility for enjoyment both alone and with friends. The price tag may feel a little steep for the moment with the limited content available, but with the fun that can be had, and if additional rounds are introduced in the future, it is worth investing in.