Dusty Shelves: “Back to Bed” Game Review

In “Dusty Shelves,” I review video games that I acquired years ago, but never (or barely) played them.

Back to Bed

Release Date: Aug. 6, 2014
Acquired On: Dec. 30, 2017
Genres: puzzle, casual, indie
My Rating:

Back to Bed is a short, 3D surreal puzzle game by indie developer Bedtime Digital Games. It’s one of those many Steam games that often costs $0.99 during sales, so if you’re patient, it won’t cost you much. Given how quickly you can finish the game, it isn’t worth its full price, in my opinion. I finished it in 90 minutes, and I’ve seen comments of others finishing it in one hour or less.

In Back to Bed, the goal is to guide a sleepwalker to their bed in each of the 30 levels available. The sleepwalker can only turn clockwise whenever he runs into a barrier. He’ll walk off of edges (which resets his position, but not the entire level) frequently on his own, so it’s up to you to intervene and navigate him safely to his bed. You do this by playing as a dog-like creature with a creepy humanoid face, moving apples to create barriers, and moving fish as well in later levels to create bridges.

Early on, the first nemesis is introduced: clocks. If the sleepwalker runs into them, he’ll wake up (which does reset the entire level). These are used in only two or three levels, then later on a similar “wake up” obstacle of a mean-looking dog is used for two or three levels. A couple of other dangers such as a man-eating hole in the floor and railroad tracks also appear, but only in a couple of levels each.

It’s not too tricky to get the sleepwalker to his goal. Sometimes you have to watch how he’s pathing for a while (footsteps will appear several tiles ahead of him to show his walking path) and maybe even let him walk off ledges while you’re busy getting things set up. Perhaps if the dangers had been used more frequently, especially in the later levels, the game would have been more of a challenge.

That’s not to say that I didn’t get stuck on a few levels. For those, I watched this walkthrough video by The Obsessed Gamer (it has no commentary, a bonus in my book). It was a bit gratifying to see them also make the same mistakes I was in the level, and eventually they would move a piece to somewhere I didn’t think of, and that would be my breakthrough to figuring out the rest.

Movement in Back to Bed can be clunky at times. You left-click to move, and when the special stairs that let you walk on walls appear, getting back on the stairs to leave the walls requires some precision. At times I also struggled with getting the apples or fish placed before the sleepwalker reached certain locations, but I think that was just me rushing and bumbling my movements.

The artwork was surreal, though got repetitive to look at after a while. I think that if the main tiles had different appearances from time to time, that would’ve diversified the environment enough to satisfy my tastes. There’s also no story at all to the game except words that basically tell you that the guy is sleepwalking through dreams. There’s a nightmare mode after you complete the game that, in theory, adds extra challenge to the levels. While I didn’t try it myself, some reviews I looked at commented that the nightmare mode made some stages easier because of the added objectives.

If you’re really into puzzle games, Back to Bed is a quick and fun diversion for you. However, if you’re looking for a game with story or diverse gameplay, I’d give it a hard pass.

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