Bear With Me is an intriguing Noir take on the classic Point-&-Click adventure game, featuring a sassy young girl as our protagonist, along with her cynical, witty sidekick of a teddy bear.
Bear With Me is an episodic title, and the first chapter of this ongoing saga from Exordium Games released on August 8th, 2016, after generating considerable hype in the Adventure genre-loving community. It’s a dark, gritty take on a child-like journey of imagination, but can it hold its own among a sea of nostalgic titles released in the last few years?
A Girl, A Bear, and the “Red Man.”
There’s trouble in Paper City, with a nemesis known only as the “Red Man” lurking in the shadows. Amber, the young woman who has the starring role in the show, is determined to figure out where her brother has disappeared to. She enlists Ted E. Bear, a wisecracking, reluctant Private Eye, who she has worked with in the past. The interactions between the two are amusing and endearing, and I loved the blend of a child’s imagination and real-world topics. The humor is full of puns, sadly, but it does have a more adult edge to it, though I felt that the dialog was much more abundant and even a bit tedious at times just in sheer volume.
The 2D animation is cartoonish but still mature, and it blends very well with the creepy, unnerving landscape that Amber and Ted encounter. While Bear With Me is flagged as a horror adventure, I never found myself scared or even spooked by what I encountered, though it does have horror elements. The “Red Man” is troublesome and ominous, but given the Point-&-Click style at play, the immersion felt minimal for something flagged as even remotely fitting the horror genre. As a fan of horror and suspense titles, not to mention anything Noir in nature, I enjoyed the blend here, but there are some bugs to be worked out.
I found that the hint system needs some tweaking. Several times, my dialog with Ted didn’t update after I completed a step, so I was wandering around looking for a single item I may have overlooked, or some brief interaction I missed earlier along the way. It was frustrating at times, and I spend a lot of time back-tracking, but this had a greater impact than it might have because of the mechanic for finding interactive objects. Instead of hovering over items that are useful and having the cursor indicate that, I had to click each of these items to discover if they had an Interact option as well as a Look (examine) feature. I also had trouble navigating at times, because Ted would react to Amber’s movements and walk in the way, leaving me to twiddle my thumbs as he slowly shuffled out of her path. Fortunately, other aspects of the interface were very well polished; the inventory system is a simple, click-and-drag interaction, and it’s easy to see the contents of your bag at any time.
An Original Soundtrack Meets Quality Voice Acting
One of my favorite aspects of Bear With Me is the quality of the audio going on in the game. The voice acting alternates between compelling and a little over-the-top, but as an entire package, it’s an enjoyable aspect of the adventure. Each of the characters came to life with real, quality voices, and it goes a long way towards creating an interactive experience.
I love that subtitles are included – something not many Indie developers are able or inclined to offer – and I appreciate having interactive dialog choices, even if they don’t seem to influence the mission. The ambient sound effects are a great blend with the original soundtrack, and the two fit together perfectly to make a very authentic Noir atmosphere.
Bear With Me isn’t a stand-out example of a Point-&-Click adventure, but the fact that it’s episodic makes me hope that some of the bugs and complications in this first chapter are ironed out in later additions. The dark humor and Noir vibe of the game are a great contrast to the nostalgia of playing through a child’s imaginary adventure, and it reminded me of Among the Sleep and Fran Bow with all the toys, puzzles, and make-believe. The original soundtrack is smooth and swanky, and it helped to bundle up the whole package nicely. If you’re looking for a refreshing change of pace in the overwhelming horde of zombie apocalypse themes, survival missions, combat-oriented shooters, and RPG titles, taking a trek back into the old school, Point-&-Click style of play with Bear With Me can be a welcome retreat. The surreal blend of Amber’s imagination overlapping with reality, circling back and forth between the two, is a compelling feature, and I adored the darker undertones that punctuate the storyline here in Paper City.