Bear With Me Episode One Review: Solving Crimes Has Never Been this Cute
Bear With Me is an episodic point and click adventure game developed and published by Exordium Games that was released on August 8th 2016.
The game is stylized as a classic noir movie yet is completely self-aware, which, considering the protagonists are a little girl and her teddy bear, is not surprising. The story goes that Amber, our heroine, is seized with nightmares, only to be woken up by her toy giraffe Millie telling her that she can’t find Amber’s younger brother. Amber then employs the help of the great detective Ted E. Bear, in order to help find him and uncover the mystery of the “Red Man”.
Other than Amber, every single character we see is some kind of toy, whether they’re a robot or a stuffed giraffe, each character has their own distinct personality. They’re all anthropomorphized though, which means that you, the player, see them as an old granny giraffe or a steelworker robot. You get various dialogue options with them and can sometimes get new hints of just what’s going on in the story. It adds life in this relatively short first look, and since you can beat this first episode in an hour, it’s good to see it wanting to keep your attention and leave you wanting more, which I think Bear With Me Episode One does incredibly well.
This is only episode one and the whole episode takes place in Amber’s house, which is drawn very stylized in black and white, just like the old detective movies. The only times where there is color in the game is when bits and pieces of story are shown in a comic book like fashion, very well drawn comic books mind you, in the same style as the game; narrated over by Ted. This never once feels jarring or out of place and melds into the tone of the story very well. Combine this with the moody sounds of the game’s stellar soundtrack, which very much advertises the amount of time and effort that was put into the aesthetic appeal for Bear With Me Episode One. Everything, the music, the gameplay, the story telling, connects together very well.
As a point and click adventure game, Bear With Me Episode One keeps things simple in terms of puzzles and such. It’s straight forward, doesn’t do anything new but it also doesn’t try to “Change the Wheel” in a way that could alienate some potential consumers. Some things you need to talk to certain people more than once, sometimes you have to stick a couple of items together, but even then it’s an easy first episode as long as you’re paying attention to what the characters say.
Speaking of the characters, they’re a nice diverse cast with varying personalities and an obvious history with one another. The writing is great, balancing out the more serious moments with plenty of lighthearted jabs at video games, the genre of film it’s paying homage to, and general fourth wall humor. Now, there are times where they go a little overboard with it and turn the puns or the cheesy jokes up to maximum capacity. It’s not prevalent enough to make you want to claw your own eyes out, which it very well could have been... so let’s be thankful for that.
For a first episode like Bear With Me Episode One, the only problems I saw were on a more technical level, things like the voices going completely silent while the dialogue was still going, then the game hurries to catch up which can be a bit jarring. There's occasionally weird silences before the characters start talking in some rooms, but these are things that can be fixed with a patch. Nonetheless, I still wanted to cover them as they are noticeable enough to be annoying to some players.
Bear With Me Episode One is a great start to a series, and if it keeps up this level of quality throughout, it could be one of the best games of the year.
Review copy supplied by publisher.