Stephen's Sausage Roll is a independent puzzle game created by Stephen Lavelle. You play as Stephen (yes, named after the creator), a small man with a giant fork who wakes up on the beach of a mysterious island one day next to a crashed ship. This island is littered with statues and pedestals, heavily implying that Stephen is not the first visitor to this island. The question of how he got here is left unanswered, and the only way to make progress is by solving the puzzles presented to you. Along the way, the aforementioned pedestals reveal small bits of information about the fate of the island's previous inhabitants.
The game is a Block Puzzle of sorts. The goal of each puzzle spread throughout the game's overworld is to push each sausage around the level on to grills, so that each sausage is grilled once in each of four "spots" (each sausage is two tiles long, and has two sides it needs to be grilled on). However, if a "spot" is grilled more than once, the sausage will be burned, and pushing the sausage off the level will cause it to fall into the ocean. Both of these conditions will cause you to lose the level and have to either restart or undo the incorrect move you made. Much of the challenge in the game comes from navigating the often-small levels in such a way that Stephen can move around without getting stuck, and so that each sausage gets to where it needs to be.
The game is hard. It is very hard. It has been described by both fans and critics as "The Dark Souls of puzzle games," which is not an entirely inaccurate comparison. Each level is often set up in such a way that there is only one, very specific solution, and making one wrong move, even at the beginning of the level, will screw up everything that follows. It doesn't help that each new section of the game introduces a number of new mechanics before you've finished mastering the ones already in place. Still, there's an intense amount of satisfaction to be had when that "a-ha" moment hits and you finally figure out the solution to a puzzle you've spent hours on. As a result, the game has a devoted fanbase, and the creators of QWOP and The Witness have described it as one of the best games they've ever played.
The game's website can be found here.
This game provides examples of:
- And Then John Was a Zombie: After the completion of the game's final puzzle, Stephen turns into one of the sausages he had been grilling throughout the entire game, meeting the same fate as every other inhabitant of the island.
- Backtracking: Upon completion of the game's second-to-last puzzle, all the overworld grills become active outside of the puzzles. The final puzzle takes place entirely within the overworld, and requires the player to go all the way back to the beach they woke up on, grilling all the uncooked sausages they had used to get to later segments of the island along the way.
- Bait-and-Switch: The World 1 level "The Clover" seems deceptively easy at first, as it is set up so that all three sausages can easily be fully grilled, but if the player completes the level in the way they are initially expected to, they will quickly discover they cannot get back to the exit without burning the sausages. The challenge of the level then comes from figuring out a way to grill the three sausages while still leaving yourself with maneuvering room to get back to the exit.
- Body Horror: It is heavily implied by the late-game story that the sausages you've been grilling this entire time are actually the swollen bodies of the island's former inhabitants.
- Disguised Horror Story: The game's initial serenity can make it quite shocking later on when the true history of the island begins to be revealed.
- Due to the Dead: "Human responsibility remains. Even after so much time had passed, the bodies still called out for reparation." The sausages are the bloated corpses of past civilizations, and you discover that it is your duty to lay them all to rest. The pedestals even document the task you are performing. Eventually, all the sausages have been cooked, and as the last one left there is nobody to cook you when you die.
- Fling a Light into the Future: The dead civilization wrote messages on pedestals documenting their decay. It is up to you as the player to read and interpret them.
- Gainax Ending: While completing puzzles in the final segment of the game, pedestals are given to the player revealing the history of the island, and philosophically touching on themes of dreams, the past, and unfinished business. However, along the way you are given no hints as to how (or even if) you will save the island. Then the player returns to the beginning of the game, completes the final puzzle, and ends back up on the beach in the exact spot where they started, with some implication that Stephen will be freed from the island in some form. And then he becomes a sausage. The end.
- Guide Dang It!: You're dropped into the game with no sort of tutorial or instructions outside of a single sign telling you how to control the character. The expectation is that you learn by playing, but this becomes a problem when not even the goal of the game is given to you at first.
- Heroic Mime: Stephen says nothing, and makes no noise aside from letting out a small "ouch" if he steps on a grill tile.
- Last of His Kind: The player is seemingly the last person alive, exploring the ruins of a dead civilization.
- Last Request: The entire game consists of the player fulfilling the final desire of the island's inhabitants. This can be seen as a deconstruction of the concept, because the last remaining inhabitants were insane from hunger and saw the bloated corpses of the dead as sausages they wished they could cook and eat.
- Meat-O-Vision: As civilization on the island fell and people began to die, those who survived the longest went insane from hunger and began to see the abandoned bloated corpses of the dead as sausages, tantalized by their inability to cook and eat them. To be cooked and eaten upon death became their final desire, which you unknowingly (at first) fulfill because you begin the game in a Meat-O-Vision mental state.
- Metapuzzle: Completing all the levels in the sub-area spawns a sausage in the main world. This needs to be manipulated somehow to get to the next area. Usually these puzzles are simpler than normal levels but they often teach new mechanics.
- New World Tease: Occasionally, late parts of the map are visible from early parts. In particular, the very late-game level "God Pillar" is visible from "The Great Tower".
- Patchwork Map: The various parts of the island encompass several different biomes (temperate, tropical, arctic, dead), all within close proximity to each other.
- Point of No Return: Each puzzle can be done only once, and disappears from the overworld after being completed.
- Sphere Factor: In later levels Stephen is able to stand on top of the sausages and roll around on them. Though it can be quite difficult to get off once you're on...
- Stylistic Suck: The game's artstyle is very simplistic and somewhat ugly. This all serves to hide its difficulty. Hell, even its official site looks like it was made in the early 2000s.
- Tank Controls: Stephen can either move or rotate but not both at the same time.
- Wham Episode: "Dead End" is this, twice over. You will encounter it for the first time while exploring World 5, and then it looks like just a simple puzzle with a single sausage... and no burner. The cliche about puzzles being "impossible until you solve them", taken to its limit. And then there's an even bigger surprise when you revisit the level later and discover exactly how it's solvable.
- Wham Shot: The game's early worlds are designed in such a way that the player cannot perform mechanics they'll learn later in the game. This may lead the player to assume these actions are impossible within the game, and may leave them surprised the first time they skewer a sausage, for example, or come disconnected from the fork.