Disclosure ‐ Our thanks go out to Exordium Games for providing us with a review copy of Bear With Me.
I feel as though all of us, regardless of where you came from, had that one toy. The one that went with you almost everywhere. Generally they had names and they always had a character. They were the ones who you would go out and get into trouble with. They would be the ones who you would tell your secrets to. More often than not, they were the catalyst for adventure.
Bear With Me is a story about you and your family of toys. Set in the film-noir style, this point-and-click adventure game goes out to lead you on a mystery. A mystery which will not take you around the world, just the upper floors of your (Amber’s) house. As you wander your room you discover that something has gone amiss. A call for help has reached your door and you must resume your partnership with the bear with whom in the past you solved many a mystery together. This is the world famous Ted E. Bear.
The story this game tells is charming in many of its details. It is not a deep or challenging tale, just one that aims to transport the player into a world with a new perspective. It is this change of perspective that I find the most enchanting part of the tale. As adults, or even as teenagers, we do not often play with toys and nor do we give them the same sort of life we once used to. Bear With Me manages to capture the moment in a child’s life where they pour life and character into everything around them.
Sometimes this illusion is broken by the game itself as you progress through the story. Fortunately, these do not, on the whole, distract too much from the pure experience that this game crafts. As is to be expected with a game set in the film noir genre, it is not all roses and rainbows. That is to say, there are no roses or rainbows to be seen anywhere. Ted E. Bear is scarred and war torn, tired of the criminal underground. Characters are missing, both family and toys, and stuffing has been spilt. This juxtaposition of toys for comfort then murder most foul presents an exciting contrast not normally found within narrative games.
What makes this game more charming is that the gameplay is appropriately moderated for the setting. I have often been frustrated by point-and-click games as they tend to take logic and then throw in a bucket full of WTF. In order to get the apple out of the tree you have to take a battery, roll it into a pastry, give it to a shark, which scares a beaver who eats the tree causing it to fall, thereby giving you access to the apple. Thankfully there are very few creative leaps of logic built into to these puzzles. They are perfectly sensible and as such suit the nature of the story extremely well. The game treats the story as an investigation, and the gameplay follows in the same vein. It is an extremely pleasing paring.
Apart from the regular click and interact toolbox used to explore the world around you, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with interesting and colourful (metaphorically speaking) characters. The information they will pass you will aid you in your journey, but at the same time telling you a little more about Amber. They use comic strips between chapters to help flesh out the nature of the world and the people who inhabit it. They are very well placed and quite well delivered, pulling the story together extremely well.
There is one weakness that this game has though. That is that it is episodic. This game is the first in a series of up to about 5 games. This means that what you get at this stage, while not exactly short, does leave the player wanting to continue the adventure. While I think that the point at which the game ends is suitably placed, it does not stop me from wanting to play the second part now. The developers have stated that they were aiming for 2 to 3 months between each release, which I think is reasonable. However, it does not stop me from wanting it right now.
I think this desire to play more is a really positive sign. Originally I was struggling to work out where I place this game. It is a genre that I normally have a little trouble getting into, largely due to the complex form that puzzles usually take. The logical presentation of the obstacles and the charming nature of the story means that I really must recommend it. It is a fantastic start for people who have not yet engaged in this style of game before and it weaves a good tale for those who may be more experienced in this genre.