Bear with Me – Xbox One Review
Our Xbox One Review of Bear with Me
With the recent release of Bear with Me: The Lost Robots, we’ve been given the opportunity to review the Complete Collection edition of the game. This includes all 3 episode that were initially released between August 2016 and October 2017. I’ll confess that I’d never heard of this series of games from Exordium Games before, but now, having completed all 4 episodes, I can honestly say that I wish I’d stumbled up them sooner.
In this review I’ll be focussing on the initial 3 episodes of the game firstly, and then latterly looking at The Lost Robots prequel story. Bear with Me is a point and click adventure game, with puzzle elements. It is a black, grey and white noir style detective story and this style is immediately apparent as soon as you begin. You play Amber, a 10-year-old girl, starting in her bedroom trying to figure out what’s going on. I will say at this point that the game doesn’t do a great job at explaining how objects can interact with each other, and how you can combine and use items with each other to progress the story. This is one of very few negatives that I’ll have to say about Bear with Me.
As you interact with different characters, and the story begins to unfold, it’s clear that you are playing out the dreams and creative thoughts of Amber. Her toys play different the characters in the story as she tried to figure out the mystery behind her brother Flint’s disappearance. It’s quite fun to see the different pop culture references as you progress through the story, showing signs of what Amber is exposed to in the real world. There’s Star Wars, Resident Evil and Wizard of Oz references to name but a few. Amber’s variation of The Rifleman’s Creed regarding her bed near the start of the game made me chuckle, thought I was hoping she hadn’t picked it up from Full Metal Jacket, like my first exposure to it.
One of your first tasks is to find Mr Ted. E. Bear, a grizzled veteran detective that Amber has worked with in the past. The two aren’t currently working together, but these early interactions will get you used to how to interact with characters and solve puzzles as the game goes on. Early in the game I appreciate how well voice acted the script is. This is prevalent throughout, with each character given appropriate voice acting that really helps enhance their personalities. I’ve played quite a few games by independent companies that rely solely on text-based dialogue, but the effort that’s gone into provided actual actors has paid dividends and really helps with the engagement of the narrative.
The story itself has been put together very well, with a couple of different arcs beyond the main ‘Where’s Flint’ mystery. There’s the introduction of the Red Man within the Paper City – the main hub of the game once you leave the confines of Amber’s house. The Red Man has arrived and is burning Paper City to the ground one part at a time. He’s there for one purpose – to get Amber. Finding out why is the other main priority beyond Flint. But each character that can help unravel what’s going on also needs something. Which leads Amber and Ted along varying paths. I really enjoy how the game makes use to comic book style cutscenes, with Ted’s diary like thoughts playing out over the top. This is as much his story as it is Amber and Flint’s. And the story kept me guessing all the way until the final episode. I was fairly sure I had guessed what was going on within Amber’s fantasy, aswell as the ‘real world’, but I changed my mind a few times, and while I had a grasp on what was happening near the end of episode 3, I wasn’t expecting it to go where it did. I love being surprised and kept on my toes by a story, and this one certainly managed to do that. I can see why it was nominated for a few awards.
The Lost Robots is a prequel to the events that happen in the first 3 episodes. And while you’d be able to play it without the background knowledge, there are so many little nods to the events in 1-3 you’d be depriving yourself by not being able to acknowledge them. In Lost Robots you play as Flint, and it’s nice to see the differences in personality between him and Amber, and in turn the relationship he has with Ted. There is a certain level of teenage attitude about Flint, which being Amber’s older brother makes sense, he almost feels like a reluctant passenger in a world created by his little sister. In this small adventure, it’s up to Flint and Ted to solve the mystery behind missing robots. I was very thankful for another opportunity to dive into the world of Bear with Me, but as this is a one-episode story it doesn’t quite have the same level of twisting story as Amber’s tale. And I’m not sure whether the puzzles are easier, or if I was just so used to the mechanics of the game that solving them was just quicker. There are two puzzles that lasted a while just because there was a lot of interaction, not necessarily because they were difficult. These aren’t negative points, just observations. I still really enjoyed the Lost Robots story, and it was interesting to see how the tied the end of the prequel up to the events of the main Bear with Me story.
Visually across all 4 episodes, the use of cartoon black and while is used very well to create the atmosphere the game is looking for. There are times however that this can make finding clues and items a little difficult. For example, finding a small white key amongst light grey wall and books isn’t the easiest. And while the game works fine with an Xbox controller, locating interactable items in a point and click environment will always be quicker and more intuitive using a mouse. It was also nice to see the use of animations within the game (there’s even a joke about the animation department budget). While they won’t compete with a AAA game, they add a lot to a game that could have taken the approach of static backgrounds that you click around. There are a couple of little audio bugs where conversation can cut off before the end of a sentence, but it’s possible to repeat them, and also everything is covered with text, so if you’re anything like me you’ll have read the end of the sentence before the audio gets there anyway.
In terms of longevity, there is little reason to go back to play through the game again. As much as I enjoyed the story, without the element of mystery there, it wouldn’t be the same. There are also no achievements tied to episode 1-3. There are some in The Lost Robots however, and they don’t rely on just progressing. I managed to unlock just two by the end of my playthrough so there is some incentive to go back and get those done at some point.
I would fully recommend Bear with Me: The Complete Collection to anyone looking for a narrative driven story game. Even if they wouldn’t normally be drawn to a point and click adventure, I honestly believe the story itself is strong enough to carry the game beyond its mechanics. And while there are some slightly frustrating puzzles, clues to find and minor audio glitches, for me Bear with Me is a resounding success, and at £11.99 for around 8 hours of gameplay, it’s fully worth the investment. Thank you to Dead Good Media for the opportunity to review it.