First Look: Baking Life

By Cody Musser

Baking Life from ZipZapPlay is an example of a Facebook game that is on a meteoric rise in terms of popularity, and there are a few good reasons for it. It hits the same niche that other popular games like Café World hit, its number of players has skyrocketed by nearly 500,000 in the last month alone, and the game is well-balanced and simply put, really fun.

The game begins by whisking you into your new scantily equipped bakery and crafting a couple treats to offer your first guests. As with most social games, you’ll pay to make the products and then gain experience and profit from selling them. For each product, whether it is a cinnamon role or a pecan pie, you’ll also do a quick click-through of some of the actions in building the recipe before you pop it in the oven. This is neat, and makes the game feel a bit interactive (if click-heavy at times). Leaving anything in the oven too long will result in some burnt baked goods, and you’ll be out the money you spent on the recipe.

Beyond the standard recipes, players can create a personalized cupcake of their own flavorful inspiration, and send that item to friends or sell it to customers. My mint wrapped orange cream cupcake with key lime icing and chocolate sprinkles was… well, it was something. It would have been really nice to see this level of customization extend to the other bakery products in the game, beyond the cupcake, which doesn’t have much value.

Friends will also assume the roles of your hired help (if you choose to ask them to), increasing in number when you expand your bakery. You can visit their bakeries and marvel at how tasty an orange cream themed bakery looks, and wonder why there aren’t more in real life. The only other interaction with friends seems to be gifting them the occasional item. This is one of Baking Life’s only faults – it seems a little single-player heavy for a social game. Additional elements in this regard may always be added, as Baking Life is still listed as a beta.

When it comes to your own bakery, you’ll be mixing up the décor to fit a style all your own. While I went with a simple, rustic theme, the options are endless for a menagerie of rainbow flavors to adorn your walls, flooring, furniture and more. Your ovens and display cases are the big features of your bakery, and as such, you’ll be updating them in quantity as well as appearance. However, it doesn’t seem that the nicer ovens offer any benefits beyond appearance over the starting options. It would have been nice to see this extra level added to the gameplay as well.

With all the cookies out on the table, it’s easy to see why Baking Life is growing so rapidly. The game is well streamlined and balanced in comparison to many other Facebook games, the setting is charming, it’s not asking too much or too little from its players, and monetization is already in place via Facebook credits to purchase more cash and the occasional exclusive item. The social aspects and the depth of the customization could stand to grow a bit, but we don’t doubt that they will in time. For now, Baking Life is a solid, charming social game that could make anyone as happy as it will make them hungry.

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