Barely Bearable

HIGH Some of the pop culture references are amusing.

LOW There’s no enjoyment in the gameplay. 

WTF The detectives are essentially a kid and his teddy bear.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Bear With Me: The Lost Robots is a point-and-click puzzler that also wants to tell a detective story, and these two genres generally fit together well in most instances. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t get far — neither of its halves are particularly interesting or engaging.

This 2D title presents a dull narrative with few options for player input. Bear consists mostly of reading automatically-progressing dialogue, clicking items in a background, and dragging items across the screen and linking them to solve a problem. It seems to check all the required boxes, but little of its content stands out.

The main character is a small bear detective, called (obviously) Ted. He’s accompanied by Flint, a young teenage boy. Ted’s only characteristics are his dating and drinking habits, and being an unpopular detective unwilling to take credit for his discoveries. Flint, the playable character, has nothing memorable about him other than having his sister sent to the hospital after daring her to eat cookies with nuts she was allergic to.

Bear’s story is set in an alternative reality with many pop-culture references. Humans, animals and robots are apparently close to being equals in this land, and many locations have a sci-fi or dystopian flavor. Bear also sports a classy noir art style.

Unfortunately, because there’s so little substance to Bear’s story, it relies upon puzzling nearly all of the time. Because of this, the little narrative progression that does occur happens in tedious fashion.

In general, the player is introduced to an area, such as a shop or theatre entrance, and can hover the mouse over the entire scene and click highlighted items. All of them can be examined, some acted upon, and others collected. About half of the information gained from a thorough examination feels unnecessary, however.

Of course, obstacles have to be overcome to lead the player to new areas or activities. This could mean doing things like finding dog food somewhere in a room and putting it in a food bowl so a guard dog won’t scare the main characters off, or finding a stable object for Flint to stand on to reach a necessary item.  

To make matters worse, most items require Flint and Ted to walk towards them to be picked up, and this can take some time as they move slow and sometimes have to take turns. Another issue is the backtracking, because some items can only be picked up once the plot calls for them. Luckily there’s a fast travel map that helps, but the backtracking itself feels completely unnecessary.

While this gameplay is fairly typical for the point-and-click genre, it’s boring and frustrating due to a lack of information on what the player’s supposed to do next. The lack of a conversation log or hint system makes randomly combining items the way to go when stuck, although I will say that the solution to most puzzles is usually straightforward.

What bothers me the most about the gameplay in Bear With Me is the overall lack of direction — it just didn’t feel like there was any reason to play. The script evolves into a predictable cartoonish melodrama and the case basically solves itself without challenging the player to come up with their own theories along the way. There’s no morally grey culprit or alternative outcomes. There’s only one way to play through Bear and unfortunately, it’s not one that kept my attention.

Rating: 3 out of 10

Disclosures: Bear With Me: The Lost Robots was developed by Exordium Games and published by Modus Games. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 4 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB the game is rated E10+ and features Alcohol Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language, Mild Blood and Use of Tobacco. The official ESRB description is as follows: This is a point-and-click adventure game in which players help a teddy bear detective and a young boy investigate a series of robot disappearances. Players solve puzzles and collect items to progress through the black-and-white noir-style narrative. As players progress, a flashback sequence depicts a still image of the teddy bear getting shot through the ear (no blood); another still image depicts the injured teddy bear falling from a building (a streak of blood appears around his ear). The dialogue contains a handful of alcohol references (e.g., “Shut your booze hole and get me some goddamn gasoline…”; “Just the boozehound I wanted to see”); in one sequence, players can examine a liquor cabinet. A handful of robotic characters are shown smoking cigarettes and cigars. The words “a*s,” “bastard,” and “damn” are heard in the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game offers subtitles for all dialogue, but the subtitle size isn’t adjustable and the dialogue can’t be paused, as it advances based on the voice acting. It can be skipped manually by clicking. The conversations can sometimes be hard to follow if the dialogue advances too quickly.

Remappable Controls: There are no remappable controls. It’s a point-and-click adventure with only the left mouse button needed to select or drag anything.

David Bakker
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