Within this current generation of gaming we’ve seen a rise in the number of episodic releases, developers releasing their games one chapter at a time throughout the year to both prolong the experience/story and so they can deliver a product much quicker (as it’s incomplete at that point). There have been titles such as Hitman and the Assassin’s Creed DLC, but the main genre which has adopted this method is the Adventure Game genre – Titles such as Life is Strange and the back catalogue of Telltale (R.I.P). Bear With Me is a game in the genre which was released in parts yet moved over to consoles once the final chapter debuted.
Initially launching in August 2016, Bear With Me was a three-part Point-and-Click Adventure Game from Exordium Games, who also released parts two and three on Steam back in February and October of 2017 respectively. These three chapters formed a complete story so for the release of the ‘Complete Collection’ on all three major consoles, the developers have bundled in an all-new prequel chapter that offers more insight into the events within the original trilogy.
So, having platinumed the game, obtained all the DLC trophies, and continued playing to see the ending of the original dark and emotional trilogy, let’s take a look at why Bear With Me is one of the best Point-and-Click Adventure Games I’ve played this year…
The Bear With Me Complete Collection is comprised of two elements, the new prequel and the original game. On PSN, as I have it on the PS4, you can opt to just pick up the prequel for £3.99 – this is all you need should you wish to obtain the platinum trophy. The original game is a £7.99 DLC, should you own the prequel above, and unlocks a number of ‘DLC’ trophies to obtain. However, there’s also a ‘Complete Collection’ which contains both the prequel and the original game for £11.99 – so in reality, it’s 1p cheaper to buy the prequel and the original game separately, rather than the collection…
Regardless of how you buy it or which route you go down, you’re required to own/obtain the prequel first. I’m not going to get into the story too much, as I like leaving the Adventure Games spoiler-free so you can experience it all for yourself, but I’ll give you the general overview. The original game sees you taking control of Amber and her anamorphic detective teddy bear, Ted E. Bear. After discovering your brother is missing, you pull Ted out of retirement and bring him with you as you venture to Paper City in hopes of finding him. However, you’ve not only got to look out for the trouble within this fantastical land, but you also need to keep an eye out for the elusive ‘Red Man’, a figure who has been seen starting fires throughout the town.
The prequel takes place before these events (obviously), with you taking control of Amber’s brother, Flint, and Ted as you investigate a brand new mystery. You don’t need to have played the original game to play this prequel, as it doesn’t rely on any prior knowledge. The prequel story is about investigating a number of missing robots.
Personally, I enjoyed the prequel more than the original story as I felt the narrative was stronger and the overall playtime was around the same length as the original trio of chapters combined. However, there were moments in the original game which I thought were done much better and with more emotion than anything we see in the prequel – so it’s swings and roundabouts – they both have their own qualities which creates a great product when combined together.
Although the game has been developed over the course of three years, all the games operate the same with the same flaws and missing mechanics in each. Before I dive into the issues though, what is Bear With Me? As a Point-and-Click game, your key mechanic is pointing and clicking on various objects and people in order to interact with them. If you’re thinking of the Telltale games, don’t (unless you’re thinking of Back to the Future or the older Sam and Max, Monkey Island and Wallace and Gromit games), think more of old LucasArts games like Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and even the recently released Irony Curtain, from our friends at Artifex Mundi.
The game is essentially one big interactive mystery where you’ll talk to people to get hints and clues, pick up items, either combine the items together or use them on something in the environment, move between locations, and solve puzzles. The controls themselves are quite simple though, the bumper triggers are for your map and inventory, the thumbstick moves your cursor, and the face buttons performs various things such as look, use, pick up or interact. One thing which did seem quite pointless though was the touchpad. As a nice touch, you can use this (on your DS4 controller) as a virtual mouse, moving the cursor around. However, pushing in on the pad only moves your character to that location, it won’t let you interact with things – which kind of defeats the purpose of using it as a mouse. It’s also very sensitive with no options to reduce the sensitivity.
In regards to the puzzles you’ll encounter, there’s a decent amount of actual ‘puzzles’ and environmental problems to overcome, such as figuring out how to get an item off a robo-cat, trying to steal a fisherman/stalkers fishing rod, and using local items to pull dismembered robot body parts out of the mud. Each one really has you thinking about the solution and where you may have seen things previously which will now work in your favour to overcome the issues ahead of you. The general ‘puzzles’ are all unique and never repeat, such as making a cocktail for the fish-men and piecing together a torn document.
Overall, there’s a great mix which is challenging enough to make you think, but they’re not too difficult that you feel you need to resort to a guide.
Now, I said there are a few things missing, things which should be in every Point-and-Click game. Unfortunately:
• There’s no button to highlight all interactive items on the screen. The majority of games have this as a guide so you know what you can and can’t touch on the screen. Having this omitted led to many random cursor movements as I searched for a pixel I could click to pick up an item I never knew I needed.
• There’s no hints or repeat dialogue options. I got stuck a few times, I won’t lie. It’s not a hard game but I left the game for a few hours and returned and I had no idea what I was doing. There’s no ‘mission objective’, the characters rarely repeat what you have to do, and there’s no option to get a snarky remark off Ted for a hint in the form of abuse/banter.
• The walk cycle is far too slow. When you find you have to walk from one side of the screen to the other, the children’s legs are too small as they take forever to walk. Moving to a new location or screen is fast, as double-tapping makes it happen instantaneously, but physically walking to talk to someone or pick something up is far too slow.
• You can’t skip all the text/vocals. Okay, the prequel worked perfectly, whenever I pressed Cross, I could skip the subtitles as I read the dialogue the characters were saying, but in the original game (in chapter three) there was a lot of dialogue I couldn’t skip. I don’t know if it’s a bug or intentional. I had to replay the chapter due to missing a few things the first time and I had to sit through some rather long conversations I’d already seen due to the skip function not working.
• This isn’t a missing/broken mechanic, but it is an issue with the game technically – the inventory. Upon opening the inventory, your cursor is also still on the screen, so sometimes, you’ll be moving a selection box in the inventory as well as your cursor in the background, meaning pressing Cross may have you interact in the background at the same time. It was rather annoying.
Despite the above omissions/issues though, The game feels solid as an indie Point-and-Click game and the game ran flawlessly with no performance or technical issues (bar the inventory thing above).
Bear With Me is set within a fantastical ‘noir’ setting, with gangsters, dames, P.I.s, and Jazz bars. As such, the entire game, all four episodes, is presented in a rather striking grayscale which further emphasises the tone of the entire game. It really does feel like you’re stepping back into the 40s, the golden era of American film noir. There’s also a hint of Sin City as the only colour you’ll see during the original game is Red whenever the Red Man is involved. Similarly, I feel the voice acting was cast perfectly, with Ted standing out the most for me with his gritty, depressed tone which really suits his character.
As well as the voice acting and brilliant artistic design, the music is suitably matched to the game and the various situations you find yourself within. It’s a shame that the soundtrack itself seems to only be a DLC addition to the PC version on Steam, as I would have loved to grab it on PSN and add it to my collection of game soundtracks. It has a noir feeling to it and once again, further enhances the overall feeling that you’re playing an old noir film (which stars and anamorphic bear, talking fish, a bunch of robots, and a cat with a robotic arm). The one exception to this would be the title music… The first time I loaded up the game, I wasn’t sure if I was about to play an adventure or a horror game as the music is rather creepy!
As I previously mentioned, the platinum trophy is earnt by only completing the prologue chapter. This consists of a lot of missable trophies which revolve around doing things right the first time, performing all possible actions before the right one, and exploring a little. The original trilogy is treated as DLC and only adds to the 100% list of trophies – additional above the platinum. However, you’ll get the last trophy (providing you’ve not missed any) before the dark, depressing, emotional, and really interesting ending of the original game. As such, I advise you to carry on playing until you see the credits roll and don’t just stop because you have all the trophies. I’m not sure why the developers decided to not include one final trophy for completing the game, in order to push people to finish the story, but hopefully you’ll want to as much as I did – the whole tone of the game changes once you reach the final act.
Keyboard and Mouse support: Seeing as the touchpad worked like a mouse, I decided to plug my mouse and keyboard into the PS4 to see what would happen. Much to my surprise, they operated like a keyboard and mouse! The mouse moved the cursor, the keyboard let me press I to open the inventory and M for the map (meaning it’s acting like the keyboard does in the PC version of the game). However, just like the touchpad being unable to interact with things, only move about, the mouse does the same thing! Although you can click, our protagonist just moves and doesn’t talk, look or pickup interactive points! It would be great if the devs could update this but how many people use a mouse to play their games? Well, after also discovering the new Leisure Suit Larry and a number of other Point-and-Click games work perfectly with a mouse, I can honestly say me – I’m going to play a lot of these games with a mouse going forward.
Although it has a few key-mechanics missing, Bear with Me: The Complete Collection is a well designed and presented noir-based Point-and-Click Adventure game. I can overlook the omitted mechanics due to both the story and the art direction keeping me hooked right until the final credit roll, despite the fact that there were no trophies to obtain whilst playing out the final act. I personally thought the story and gameplay was more fun and solid within the prequel, as it was the final element created in the collection, but the original trio of chapters delivered a very interesting story which took a rather strange turn towards the final conclusion. My final thoughts and the outcome I got from playing through this series was that I want more Ted E. Bear – I really hope we get to see more of him in the future via a sequel or maybe a spin-off title.
If you’re a fan of Point-and-Click games which require you to think about things, concentrate on what’s being asked of you, and think outside of the box, whilst set within a fantastic, yet almost realistic, world filled with interesting characters and events; Bear With Me: The Complete Collection is a game you should be checking out right now!
Bear With Me: The Complete Collection£11.99
- - Brilliant artistic choice to deliver the game in grayscale
- - Perfect voice acting which matched the tone of the game and the era it was imitating
- - Environmental puzzles and events which really made you think how to overcome them
- - Each episode was better than the last (when played in chronological release order)
- - Two great stories for a low price
- - There are some common Point-and-Click mechanics missing (see above)
- - Some people may think the story is short but it took me around 4 hours per story, so eight hours in total (if using a guide then it'll be much shorter)
- - The touchpad was pointless. It was a nice try in implementing its use, but it couldn't be used to interact with things and it was too sensitive (also, an actual mouse isn't fully compatible)
- - The Developers/Publisher decided to end all trophies before the final act of the third episode! If you're reading this and you've bought the game - play it until the end credits, don't just stop because you have all the trophies!!!