Freshly Frosted is the Soothing, Cerebral Puzzle Game I Need Right Now

After seeing it at the Wholesome Direct last week, I picked up Freshly Frosted, a cute puzzle game with Chu Chu Rocket and Cosmic Express vibes.

I saw many games I wanted to play at last weekend’s Wholesome Direct event, but one piqued my interest so much that I wrote a short preview blog about it. It’s called Freshly Frosted, and it actually arrived just before the show started. I’ve only just had the chance to get my hands on it, and friends, I was right. It does have excellent Chu Chu Rocket and Cosmic Express vibes (with perhaps a bit of Steven’s Sausage Roll as well), along with a relaxed and sweet vibe (and very pretty vaporwave/bisexual colors) that goes very nicely with this style of cerebral puzzling.

In the game, you are “assisting” a narrator to order things in her mind via a visualization exercise. A tiny cutscene introduces our protagonist and the core premise of the game: slowing and ordering thoughts by imagining them as little donuts on a conveyor belt. Throughout the gentle tutorial, you learn the basic mechanics and order of operations: you place conveyer tiles in order to get freshly fried treats to the correct order of frosting/accouterments, first getting each donut to frosting, then sprinkles, then whipped cream, then the cherry on top, then into the delivery bin. It’s all very clean and visually clear — colors, shapes, and iconography direct you to the various elements, and puzzles start nice and easy, with small grids and very few ways to mess up. Naturally, the challenge builds from there. 

The game starts to show its teeth pretty early (hence the slight touch of Steven’s Sausage Roll), but there is plenty of hope for tougher screens. There are myriad accessibility options, hints, a quick restart, a skip puzzle feature — really, all the niceties required so that the game gets out of its own way and lets you enjoy pathing things out.  And it is extremely enjoyable, especially given the incredibly chill vibes. This is exactly the kind of game I need on afternoons when my brain needs a short break from work or my stress levels are climbing. 

Freshly Frosted moon donuts

I love puzzle games, and the best-designed ones feel like a conversation, or even a sort of dance, between designer and player. It’s very fun, for me, at least, to try and get into the head of the puzzle’s creator and see what they were thinking when they laid this out. What do they want from me? What do they want to teach me here? How much coffee did they have that day when they were putting this together for me? Okay, that last point may be a bit too specific, but the sort of interplay effect always fascinates me and makes me happy when I do figure it out.

When you clear a tough screen, your reward is to watch all your little, perfectly frosted treats dance to the beat of the machine in a perfect little orderly loop. You also get the satisfaction of feeling like you are in that conversation (or dance!) with the designer, rather than just kind of letting it wash over you. That, for me, is why I will probably play all 144 puzzles in the game (across an assortment of boxes), even though it’ll take me a long, long time.

Freshly Frosted is out now on Nintendo Switch (where I’m playing it), Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.

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