Don’t you hate it when your desserts are taken away by robots? So does Frank, the furball dedicated to taking back that sweet, sweet treat in Take the Cake. He doesn’t speak—only occasionally yells—and his name is never actually revealed in-game, but Frank is the hero the furballs need and probably deserve. I’m not sure what they could’ve done to deserve the wrath of the robots. The journey itself will take Frank through a variety of different terrains and challenges, though who wouldn’t go through the most dangerous feats for the sake of satisfying their sweet tooth?
Take the Cake is available for purchase via Steam for your regional pricing.
Much like the games of yesteryear, Take the Cake’s story is on-par with the blanket narratives that serve as the player’s motivation for playing and nothing more. It’s a “Save the princess” sort of deal, only one is saving something much sweeter. Only little bits of progression are shown throughout the game by means of little cutscenes that have Frank and co. look upon the robot who stole their cake. None last more than about fifteen seconds and have any impact on the game’s experience past showing what to expect of the level ahead. Again, it’s a blanket narrative. They’re to keep the motivation going, like a cake on a stick.
Is Take the Cake fun?
Short answer: Not really.
Long answer: There are aspects to the game that could justify an enjoyable experience through innovation and workable mechanics. Unfortunately, not only is the game far too slow to be anything thrilling, but its “gimmick” of growing and shrinking, which allows for maneuvering differently and altering the terrain based on weight physics, feels more like a nuisance than a natural inclination. Again, the game is fairly slow; one moves slow, they grow/shrink slowly, they jump slow, the enemies are slow. Everything in Take the Cake feels so floaty and loose, never succinct enough to provide high-stakes platforming. The only instance of this is when one is altering gravity, but more on that later.
What already only semi-works in execution, there is shockingly little content offered here, especially for something priced at $9.99. I was able to play through this in less than two hours, and the surprises were far and few in-between. A new enemy in one level, a new background in another. Too often the game believes it can work with its standard set of gameplay quirks, with levels that aren’t particularly difficult and only partially different from the last. I’ll commend it for trying, as new levels will reveal some sort of new terrain available through previously unavailable procedures, yet it all blends together in a sort of creamy, watered-down soup that leaves little of an impression. Even now, typing this a day after completing the game, I can only remember the stages that irritated me or I had to replay over and over because I didn’t go the exact path. So maybe five or six, out of twenty-seven (and a few secret ones).
To grow or not to grow. That is the question. Most often, one would like to be small, so that they move a little faster and jump a little higher. Yet the growth function has some benefits, too, like scaring off enemies that only appear about once every six levels, or making Frank so heavy that he pushes the platform he’s standing on further down into the void of the unknown. It’s necessary to progress through Take the Cake growing and shrinking, yet one will likely only grow in situational instances, as it provides little benefit to the game’s core genre of platforming. Should the game find more use of its growth function, the game may not be as forgettable. All that matters is that one is small and spurting their way to the finish line (every level has a timer for speedrunning purposes.)
The one aspect of Take the Cake that provided me with the blissful act of immersion was the anti-gravity gimmick, where Frank steps on certain platform and floats up to the ceiling. Everything then becomes reverse, where the ceiling is the floor and the floor is the ceiling, like the entire stage was turned upside-down. It provides a more careful approach to platforming and gives a spark to simply running left and right and jumping. Adding challenge to an already easy game by phasing one’s expectations of what is and isn’t available while the world is flipped. This aspect really… takes the cake as the game’s one true good quality.
The issues with Take the Cake are not that the game is in any way tremendously faulty or inept; rather it only has so little to it that it doesn’t leave much of an impression. Little emotion swept me while playing; nothing wowed me, nothing made me want to play further than the duty of playing it through to the end for the sake of review. Nothing about it screams “professionally-made game.” It’s a cute little project that could pass off for a mobile title. Compared to its competition, especially those within its same genre a la Glo or Orange Moon, it shows its blandness to a further degree. Cutesy graphics and a silly premise do very little when it comes to the actual game.
Graphics & Audio
Artistry of the same caliber as Clip Art. Really bouncy and heavily cartoon-ish, Frank, the evil robot, and the cake itself are bright, vibrant, and constructed in a well-to-do manner for Saturday morning. Everything else, however, provides a completely different tone. It genuinely feels more Glo-like in representation, with a sort of computer-like grid of pseudo-techno aesthetic. Frank and the furballs seem to inhabit a computer software system that provides them Clip Art cake to indulge in at their leisure. Perhaps it explains the entire aesthetic; Frank is a Clip Art in a retro computer feasting on Clip Art cake when a Clip Art robot becomes jealous and takes the cake. This is becoming more interesting by the minute!
Jokes aside, there’s little to take in here, only adding to the forgettable palette of razzmatazz Take the Cake provides. Some different environments arise as Frank digs deeper and deeper into the mysterious world he inhabits, but none really change anything or provide an altogether distinct mood from one another. Feeling like one side of a die that makes up a world connected, the differences are too minor and never exemplify their distinction in presentation. Enemy variety (all two or three of them) does little to change up the scene, though it provides a little danger to simply jumping about randomly (one dies in a single blow).
Perhaps the most forgettable feature lies in the soundtrack, which is abnormally quiet throughout the entire adventure—unless I just don’t remember it at all. Certain musical effects cue dependent on the situation, whether warped into a new territory or being chased by a giant creature, little adds to the flavor of immersion. Sound effects are just as forgettable, save one: the furball’s scream. A very weak (and somewhat cutesy) “Waaaaaaaah!” will play upon falling into the death or during triggered cutscenes. In all honesty, there is nothing more irritating in Take the Cake than that scream, which plays over and over to the point where I want to scream myself, and not in a cutesy way. It almost serves as the cherry on top of the cake one is tasked with retrieving: the one ongoing annoyance that embellishes the already bland cake.