Last year I played the first episode of the Toy Noir point & click adventure game, Bear With Me, where you play as crime fighting duo Amber Ashworth and the retired detective Ted. E. Bear, on the search for Amber’s missing brother, Flint, as well as trying to uncover the identity of the mysterious Red Man while trying to stay one step ahead of him, as he’s after Amber.
The first episode in the season, released in August 2016, ended with a cliffhanger as Amber and Ted leave the confines and comfort of Amber’s home for Paper City, the home of all toys, a place drawn from Amber’s imagination.
That’s where this Bear With Me episode kicks off, in a diner on the Paper City docks, with Ted and Amber trying to get in touch with one of their old friends, a man with the initials CGB, their meaning all but clear once you meet him, and a fantastic jab at and reference to comic books.
Episode 2 uses these short screens and conversations to set the tone of the city and its people, some downtrodden and some vile and corrupt, yet still capable of great humour and kindness. It’s a bit show don’t tell that I appreciate.
This new Bear With Me episode adds new questions to the overall plot, new angles to the mysteries and while it tries to be very secretive and cryptic, I feel it shows its hand a bit too much, almost desperately pointing you to the answer behind the story’s major questions. I hope these are red herrings, otherwise the game turns out too predictable. We’ll have to wait for the end of the season for the truth though.
While I found the first episode to have a satisfactory length, I found Bear With Me Episode 2 extremely short, taking me a couple of hours, and only because I couldn’t find the answer to one puzzle, not because of its difficulty but because I’d forgotten you could combine items in Bear With Me—have been playing too many games where that isn’t possible.
Also, this episode had some astoundingly long loading times, something I didn’t see in the first episode. But while those I can deal with, it was the recurring and sudden black screens that really annoyed me. I would click on the map be it to collect an item to transition to another screen and saw only a black screen. It was confusing and only by pressing escape did the image return.
The version of Bear With Me Episode 2 I played for this preview also had something strange, a set of added options when pressing the Tab key, such as “Super Speed,” which considering how slowly Amber walks, I would love to see become a real setting in the game. These options seem like tester shortcuts, to go through the game as fast as possible. By the way they display—as standard windows forms buttons—I’m guessing someone forgot to turn them off, as they don’t seem intended for regular players.
Still, even with the shortness, the above inconveniences and some issues with the overall tension and atmosphere—which I’ll go into when it’s time to review the full season—I enjoyed the episode and where it ends, and I hope we don’t have to wait another year for the next episode of Bear With Me.