BEAR WITH ME: EPISODE 1
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on August 13, 2016
It is time to get in touch with our inner private detective! Meet Amber; a 10-year old girl on a mission to find her missing brother. One night, Amber suddenly wakes from a nightmare, only to find her brother gone. Being the tough kid she is, she decides to find out what happened. To this end, she enlists the help of her once good friend and partner in crime solving: the now retired and generally grumpy old detective Ted E. Bear. Together, they must solve the disappearance of Amber’s brother, Flint and investigate a trail of mysterious fires in Paper City, apparently started by a mysterious character called “The Red Man”. Damn, that’s a lot of mystery for one small girl and her plush partner!
As they set off on their investigation, Amber and Ted scour the environment for clues and useful items, as well as talk to a cast of very cool characters that inhabit the world. The game starts at Amber’s family home, where she first meets up with Millie, her old stuffed giraffe. Millie tells Amber that there is trouble brewing in Paper City and that Amber’s brother is missing. After consoling the old crone, Amber vows to discover what happens and visits Ted’s office. When we see Ted for the first time, one cannot help but being reminded of Humphrey Bogart’s character in the movie Casablanca, complete with the attitude and the drinking problem. Well, almost, because while Bogey drank hard liquor, Ted seems to be hung up on carrot juice. But hey, an addiction is an addiction, however you look at it.
There seem to have been some trouble in the past between Amber and Ted and neither of them seem to be too happy seeing one another… or are they? This, I would like to point out, is one of the coolest aspects of the game. While it may be a thrilling noir detective story, the main protagonists are still a 10-year old girl and her once favorite teddy bear, so the conversations, problems and puzzles focus heavily on how these two characters see the world and its problems. It’s a refreshing look at a proven concept and really, really, REALLY fun to play. And don’t worry for a second about the game being too childish, because that is definitely not the case. The humorous puns and conversations are as much funny and endearing as they are gritty, dark and sarcastic. I personally think that is what makes Bear with me such a great game; it manages to be all of this, without being too over-the-top or too weird.
The puzzles you encounter are just what we’ve come to expect from games in the point ‘n click genre; a mix of finding and combining items and making use of some good old common sense and information you’ve gathered by talking to various characters in the world. Also, as we’ve come to expect from this type of game, a fair amount of backtracking is needed to complete the puzzles you encounter. And, thanks to Bear With Me’s cool 2D art style, this backtracking never feels tiring or boring. There are more than enough objects in the world for you to discover and inspect, each triggering their own response from either Amber or Ted. Another cool feature of Bear with me is the occasional character switch. For some parts of the game, you’ll be playing as Ted instead of Amber. I must say, playing as the old, grumpy detective makes for a nice change from the somewhat more gentle Amber. Ted is a real hard-ass who doesn’t shy away from threats and is used to doing things his own way. Again, the mix of these two different characters is what makes playing Bear with me a load of fun.
Lastly, there are still two things left I’d like to point out before I leave you and that is Bear With Me’s soundtrack and its hint system. The completely original soundtrack complements every scene in the game and really helps to enhance that ‘noir’ feel. It’s pleasantly minimalistic and exceptionally cool at the same time. No mean feat, wouldn’t you say? That just leaves us with our final topic of the day: the hint system. This, ladies and gentlemen, is probably one of the best instances of hint systems I’ve seen in a long time. It works in the same way as the ‘Hint Keeper’ in the classic game Phantasmagoria. In Bear With Me’s case, there is no separate Hint Keeper; no, no, this role is given to our trusty friend and companion: Ted. If you’re stuck, try talking to Ted and he will point you in the right direction, without just giving away the solution to the puzzle at hand. It’s actually more a guide line than it is an answer, which works fantastically well and doesn’t spoil the fun one bit!
According to its developer, Exordium Games, Bear With Me is an episodic, story-driven, “horror” noir adventure game and I’m very much inclined to agree with them. The “horror” part of the game (for now) mostly consists of that ominous feeling that something is very wrong. Or, as I’m sure Hamlet would agree with me: Something is rotten in the state of Paper City! While we’ll have to wait a while before we can witness the conclusion of this epic case, I can already tell you that I’m totally stoked after playing just the first episode! I mean, what’s not to like?! Awesome black and white graphics that give off that 1940’s / 1950’s vibe while the game is set in modern day, A cast of cool characters, each one with their own personality and set of conversation options and very, very cool point ‘n click gameplay; I’m in adventure heaven!
What Bear With Me reminds me of most, is probably the good old point ‘n click days of a bygone era. It has a pinch of Sam ‘n Max, a dash of Day of the Tentacle and a dollup of Discworld II; in short, it’s the perfect recipe for pure awesomeness! This is, and I can’t stress this enough, exactly what Bear with me is: Pure and utter point ‘n click awesomeness! I’ve only been able to play the first episode so far, and I already can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of them and see what cool puzzles, plot-twists and characters this tale holds! Will Amber and Ted be able to crack the case and escape with their lives, or will this case prove too much for them and spell doom for both our heroes and Paper City? Tune in next time; Same Bear time, same Bear channel!
BEAR WITH ME: EPISODE 1
August 8, 2016