Bear with Me is a new point & click adventure game. Yes, it’s episodic, because they’re all episodic now. Strangely, when I got the press release offering the review code it didn’t mention anything about it being just the first episode of the season, so imagine my surprise when, preparing myself for a long playthrough I find myself facing the dreaded sentence “End of Episode One.”
With that bit of discomfort out of the way, I have to say I enjoyed the first episode greatly. The game is full of wonderful atmosphere, a genius combination between childhood innocence and youthful imagination and the grim bitter reality of the Noir genre. When you have a convincing private detective in a teddy bear, you know you’re in for a nice adventuring romp.
The game opens with Amber having a nightmare then waking up in her room to find Millie, the kind old toy giraffe she’s had for many years, sitting in the corner, fretting about some Red Man invading Paper City, where all the toys live, setting fires and looking for Amber. She tells Amber that her brother, Flint is not in his room and might be missing and begs her to take Ted E. Bear with her on the search, hoping the hardboiled retired snoop will help her, despite their falling out.
It doesn’t take much to get the grumpy shamus on the case and together the scour every dark corner of Amber’s house, talking to other toys and trying to figure out who the Red Man is and where Flint might be hiding.
While Bear with Me is truly a noir story, getting quite dark in its first episode, it does have some humour, particularly of the “breaking the fourth wall” variety. What makes it work, unlike other games where these jokes fall flat, is that it matches the cynical personalities of its protagonists and the overall atmosphere and style of the game perfectly. One of the best jokes is a reference to True Detective, and how they left the Yellow King open to interpretation and the many reference to asset reuse and flip by the artists.
The best joke for me though triggered when I clicked on a lamp. Suddenly you hear a desperate message recorded by one of the development team, asking for help before people barge in his door and shoot him. You can even hear them dragging the body away. The characters then turn to one another and say, “That was disturbing.” It’s grim and dark but it made me laugh. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.
As you know, I don’t review episodic games until I’ve played the full season. So far, I’m enjoying it though I’m pretty sure I know where the plot is heading. I hope the next episodes release soon, so I can keep going with this toy-story-noir adventure.
For now, I leave you with a preview of this first episode, recorded as I played it. For your convenience—certainly not mine—I’ve split the episode in multiple parts, to make it easier to digest.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!