Developer Flipline Studios is known for their Papa’s series of restaurant mini-simulations, so it’s no surprise that their latest release revolves around foodstuffs. What is unusual is the gameplay: they’ve stepped outside their standard first-person food-serving format to give us an endless action puzzle game. The result, Slider Scouts, is surprisingly filling.
Slider Scouts stars a hamburger with toothpick-olive eyes who is a member of the titular troop that, we guess, is the burger equivalent of the Boy Scouts. He’s on a mission to recruit more anthropomorphic edibles to his camp and is exploring the nearby woods to track down additional members. Honestly, the story is nonsense and doesn’t really come up. Basically you’re controlling a hamburger, sliding around the woods, and unlocking other types of sandwiches and characters.
What shines here is the gameplay: since our hero is a slider, he moves around the world by sliding, stopping only when he runs into a wall or obstacle. His goal is to get to the checkpoint on each level, by bumping into walls and changing direction when needed. This is a fairly popular puzzle format, as we’ve seen in recent entries Mr. Square and Shuffle Islands. The big difference in Slider Scouts is that the levels are procedurally generated and endless—so you progress through stages until you fail—and timed, so although you can slide back and forth as often as you’d like, you need to reach the checkpoint on each stage within 30 seconds.
If you’ve played Flipline’s Papa Louie games and this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Slider Scouts is based on the mini-game Slider Escape that’s present in many of the series’ entries. That mini-game was more of a deliberate move-by-move puzzle solver, as opposed to Slider Scouts’ fast-paced flinging.
Although we usually prefer our puzzles untimed, the combination of slight pressure and freeform sliding works really well here. Stages are never too complex, leaving you free to slide around a bit haphazardly and retrace your steps if needed. It’s a satisfying combination of simple puzzle solving and speedy swiping.
Along the way you’ll need to smoosh patrolling condiment bottles, dodge jelly cannons, time your movements to pass over spikes, and navigate a dozen other obstacles. There are coins and stars to collect on each level which allow you to rank up and earn new stage environments to explore as well as other characters and furniture to add to your collection. Your characters hang out at the scout lodge which can be decorated with the furniture you earn: again, we’re not really sure how this all came together, presumably in a meeting with “The Sims starring hamburgers” written on a whiteboard, but we’re enjoying it nonetheless.
All those weird collectibles mean gaming gatherers will have plenty to keep them occupied beyond the standard high score chase of getting through as many rooms as possible. There are already 80 characters—ranging from alternate burgers like “Pretzel Bun” to fruits, onions, and recognizable creatures from Slider Escape and other Flipline games—and an unconfirmed amount of furniture to add to your lodge. We’ve been using some depressed-looking member of blueberry royalty, “Blue Barry.” Like we said, you just kind of have to go with it. It’s a bizarre, addictive short-burst puzzler that we’ve been taking bites of all day.