bonnie's bakery

Bonnie’s Bakery Gets You to do Disturbing Things With Cute Cooking

Bonnie’s Bakery is an excellent reminder that you don’t always want to know what goes into your favorite foods. This mixture of baking sim and stealth horror is an odd combination. I don’t usually flee for my life after having to make cakes and treats. However, mixing these two elements made for uniquely disturbing horror game that involves the player in some gruesome activities. How often do you get to create murderous recipes, anyway?

The game starts off bright and cheerful in your 2D bakery. Bonnie’s ready to open the shop for another busy day. A slew of cute animal friends come toddling in as soon as you open the doors. An adorable bear stops to ask you about your recipes. A chef can’t reveal her secrets, though! Especially when they involve kidnapping and grinding up animal friends to put in the food. Most people give you a little side-eye when they see dead neighbors listed as ingredients in a recipe. But that little revelation is still far off.

So, you need to help with the cooking in the first part of Bonnie’s Bakery. That involves looking out at your clients in the bakery and seeing which item they want. Once you know what they’re hankering for, you can consult your recipe book to get to work. All this involves is clicking on ingredients to put them in the right spot, prepping them by rolling, chopping, or mixing, then cooking them up. You can cook extra things in advance so you have a stockpile for customers when things get busy, too. Wouldn’t want anyone going hungry!

bonnie's bakery

At this point, it just feels like a normal cooking game. You try to do the recipe right and get people the food they want. The animal characters have timers above their heads that indicate their patience level as well. So, you’ll try to prioritize characters that are getting impatient while cooking up the right things. Do well and everyone leaves happy. Do poorly and Bonnie will (understandably) become a bit upset. Little do you realize just how much her mood will affect a later segment of the game. Or how much the cooking section will hit differently in a few moments.

After a day of cooking, Bonnie’s Bakery mentions that it’s time for some fresh ingredients. At this point, it switches from 2D to 3D. You’re standing in a wooden cage. You watch as Bonnie walks away from you. If you look around, you’ll see that you’re standing in a dreary dungeon, a limbless panda bear beside you. He tells you that you can escape if you find a passcode that’s on several scattered notes. You just need to do that without drawing Bonnie’s attention. Because she’s killing folks and using them in her food. If she catches you wandering, you’re next in the over.

Our sweet, friendly chef from moments before sure feels different, now. And those ingredients you were putting into cakes and treats seem a little stomach-churning. At this point, the game becomes a stealth horror game as you creep around the basement. You’ll stumble across other dismembered animals as you look for the code numbers. Don’t take too long to talk with them, as Bonnie patrols the whole while, a meat cleaver in her hand. You’ll have to carefully find notes and talk to the other animals without getting caught. Then again, you can always run back to your cell to be safe. The panda tells you that she’s nicer to the compliant creatures she captures. If she finds you outside the cell, though, you’ll be chopped to death on the spot.

The implications are pretty clear in Bonnie’s Bakery. While it’s not cannibalism per se, Bonnie’s still carving up folks from the neighborhood for the meat, fat, and various sauces for her foods. And while you don’t have much time to think about this while skulking around the basement, you might recall how hard you were working to put those recipes together a few minutes ago. Didn’t you just help her cook a bunch of food? Didn’t you try to do it as fast and efficiently as possible? Weren’t you technically a part of serving dead neighbors to their friends?

It’s sickening, but the kind of thing that only pokes at your mind when you’re sneaking around the dungeon. Bonnie is fairly persistent in her patrols, and has a tendency to come out of nowhere when you aren’t expecting it. It doesn’t help that the numbers for the door code are couched in long diary entries she wrote. These give you the background of her failing business and the unfortunate death that showed her how delicious her customers could be. Sitting and reading a note means spending a lot of time ignoring your surroundings, though. Bonnie is very good at catching you during these times. Hope you’re a quick reader.

While exploring Bonnie’s Bakery, you’ll get a real feel for what Bonnie is actually like. Being chased by Bonnie helps you really feel how terrifying and ruthless she is. That grin only leaves her face for those moments when she’s hacking you apart. When you’re just walking around, you’ll see several other animals without arms and legs. She’s clearly carved them off. Even so, she’s still left them alive in this state. Helpless to do anything but flail on the floor until she comes looking for more ingredients. All they can do is hope Bonnie finally finishes the job. It’s a powerful, disturbing revelation about her character, and you get to stew in it while running from her and looking and the bloody aftermath in her dungeon.

And part of this is your fault. Those are the same ingredients you rushed to get into cakes and treats upstairs, though. While your character in the game didn’t help her, you, as the player, did. You helped her create a successful business out of cutting up her animal neighbors. You took part in cooking up sentient beings and serving them to their smiling friends. Not only this, but you tried to do the best job you could. If you did well, then you’re the reason why Bonnie is downstairs killing more people. She needs more ingredients for her customers, after all. You had a hand in the terrible fate of these animal characters.

It’s strange to feel that guilt steadily grow the more time you have to think about it. Knowing you’re playing as a killer is one thing. Being surprised that you’ve been murdering and cooking people is a very different one. It’s a startling realization that only grows stronger as you play and when you walk away from the game, and creates a uniquely sickening feeling at how you took part in all this. You worked really hard to be GOOD at doing this. The game made you WANT to do a great job cooking these people. It just didn’t tell you that was what you were cooking.

Bonnie’s Bakery does a great job of exploring a disturbing guilt in your actions. Even if you didn’t know what you were doing, you still helped cook these people. You still had a hand in it. Seeing that cruelty first-hand as you escape the basement only makes these feelings stronger. That complicity in something disturbing is what makes this experience feel special, and made for a game that I’ll continue to feel some guilt over long after it’s done playing. Being complicit in something awful without even knowing it – relishing in the cute fun of doing it, even – is what upset me the most. What other horrible things have I done without knowing it?