Developer: Exordium Games
Publisher: Exordium Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Point and Click, Adventure
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: July 31, 2019 (EU & NA)
Price: £7.99 GBP
Bear With Me: The Complete Collection is what it says in the name. Choosing this title is basically getting everything there is to offer around Ted E. Bear (nice wordplay when it comes of the protagonists’ name, I know!). The three episodes of Bear With Me were released on PC, starting in August 2016 and the final chapter got launched in October 2017.
Its sequel, Bear With Me: The Lost Robots, was added as a bonus to the already existing episodes and serves as a prequel. It also released alongside the launch of the Nintendo Switch Switch version on, July 31, 2019.
The whole universe in Bear With Me is translated into a point-and-click adventure in the style of a noir film. I have to say that it is a unique combination, but does it work out? Let’s find out in my review!
The attempt I made with Bear With Me: The Complete Collection was to start with the prequel. Looking back on the whole story in general, I would advise you to do the same since Bear With Me has a major spoiler at the beginning that basically gives one of the villains of Bear With Me: The Lost Robots away. This is probably not at fault due to negligent writing but mere the fact that the prequel was released with such a delay than the main game. You will also have a completely different (in my opinion better, too) point of view on the whole game when you’re playing the prequel first.
The universe in general is based on two heroes: Amber Ashworth and Ted E. Bear. Both tied together in a bit of a difficult friendship with each other, as they investigate Paper City. Ted is a toy teddy bear, like his name hinted already, while Amber is a young girl and the only human in the game you will encounter. The only exception being her brother Flint in the prequel.
But now I would like to give you a brief impression on the story in the prequel before I will shortly do a summary on the main story.
Bear With Me: The Lost Robots
Unlike the main game and playing with Amber Ashworth and Ted E. Bear, you will substitute the female protagonist with her younger brother Flint (whom is missing in the main game) alongside Ted. You awake with Ted and Flint being trapped in a room and go on your adventure. They both join forces to discover the truth behind robots constantly reported missing in Paper City. Rebuilding Robbie, a robot and accountant in the hopes to find out who’s behind all of this, is the main goal in the prequel. And that is mostly about it. The case is independent from the main story and, when you see the end of Bear With Me, you will understand why.
Bear With Me
In the main game, someone is missing (again) – but this time, as I mentioned before, it is Flint. Amber returns to Paper City with Ted E. Bear to find her missing brother. A story spread over three episodes. The first one starts in the house of Amber Ashworth. She awakes from a nightmare in her room, soon to be informed by her old plush giraffe Millie that the city she knows is in chaos thanks to a “Red Man”. She sends you to that grumpy teddy bear in your closet, the retired detective and somewhat friend of yours, Ted. Going alone by yourself is way too dangerous with that man destroying the city and on the lookout for our heroine, but you also need to rescue Flint as soon as possible.
Amber and Ted both have some difficulties getting to work together and they have a past that was somehow rough. You do not know why that is, though. At first, I thought the lack of explanation why they rub each other that much is “just” the way point-and-click adventures work. The whole dull tasks that obviously send you from place to place with a weak sense or none. You know what I mean when you’ve played one or two titles from this genre before. Bear With Me is no exception here, so you know what awaits you.
Originally the game was supposed to be five episodes, but during development the idea got dropped. To be honest, you can feel that. Some bits and pieces did not add up for me and did not get explained the way that I would find it appropriate. You can connect the dots on your own, but it’s not satisfying and happens way too often in my opinion.
It does not mean you are left in the dark. The story unfolds for you but holds too much for it to tell in three episodes. The attempt was big, the effort as well. Passion isn’t lacking in Bear With Me, be it in the main story or in the prequel. Although it wasn’t spread evenly. The main villain, the “Red Man”, that you can even control a few times (and way too short) in the game feels like he could be portrayed better. The fact that you can also choose to be less violent in the rare times you are roaming around as the “Red Man”, weakens his purpose and real nature even less.
A big thread he is, indeed, you will understand in the end. Him being mentioned and addressed as so dangerous at the beginning and getting less mentioned throughout the game left me puzzled. In my opinion the villain could have been made bigger, more of a constant danger and making the game scarier. So scary as I thought the game would be at the beginning, when that title music started playing in the start menu.
Between your investigation, Ted tries to explain the story in some sort of little summary. During one of them, Amber interacts with him in a way that makes you feel like it is an outtake in a movie. This happens a few times during the playthrough of both main game and prequel. Even though I spared some laughs there, at some point I wished they would have used the time to focus on storytelling and humor me with sharp dialogues instead. I’ll show you an example as a video below. The humor is enjoyable, but not balanced out right throughout the game for my taste. The prequel did it way better than the main game.
Exordium Games were trying of making the game feel like a movie. Doing the stated above, they realized that idea well. I will focus on that a bit more later in the audio section, especially because of the voice acting.
The twist at the end pf the game didn’t make me regret playing it… but getting there was often tenacious. The dialogues are long, and boy, believe me I know what it means to listen to long rambles during video games. I mean, look at me. I tend to ramble and speak more than it is often necessary as well. Plus, I have a weakness for visual novels.
Although at some points I was just clicking through the dialogue without really listening or reading the text anymore. It was testing my patience and my enjoyment of Bear With Me- I would have liked the story to have been more precise. Some dialogues felt like an homage to good voice acting and a love for movies instead of moving the story along.
Overall the story telling and story of Bear With Me: The Complete Edition is good. The prequel did the overall story a favor and it feels more balanced after I had completed the whole story. Even though I was highlighting some negative aspects of the game before, if you take your time with the game, the dialogues doesn’t weigh too heavy.
If you are waiting for the creepy story bits from episode one to continue throughout the game, I would like to spare you the disappointment. The game does not pick up too much after that in the same style (or at all). That made me wonder but I was relieved at the same time. I can’t stand horror – it would have taken way longer for me to wrap up this review if the story had been scary.
My point-and-click gamer heart missed the puzzles that are typical for the genre. The prequel did have some more of that particular kind and I liked it a lot. Unfortunately, the main game came short with those.
Like your everyday kind of point-and-click game, Bear with me uses the regular mechanics of that genre well. You interact with different objects on the screen as well as combining them (more or less) logically to your advance (or your desperate needs). Some objects can be taken with you and you can also hear a (often) comical attempt to describe it, too.
The more important things that can be picked up are standing out quite easy since there is also a hand besides the normal magnifying glass commando. Sometimes it is quite obvious, which part of your surroundings you should interact with. Other times, it can be harder to locate them. But that is okay as it keeps everything at the right balance, am I right?
In the pocket of either Amber or Flint, you gather your objects and there, you also combine those items. An annoying feature of the game is that there is a certain way to join two items. For example, I had to insert two batteries into a flashlight in the main game. I tried dragging the flashlight onto the batteries, but that did not work. Changing the order helped and voila, I had a working flashlight. It happened a few times in the game with other examples, too.
Am I really that weird in combining items or is that a weak point of the game? Time to “blame” the game on that one. I had other titles making no difference how to combine two objects. Although that is not the worst weakness to have. Just keep that in mind and try again the other way around.
When dragging items out of its storage and trying to combine it with the surroundings or a character, there is something that was tiresome and bugged me more than this above mentioned combining issue. The menu did not close itself when you selected an item, you actually have to move it out of the pocket so the menu finally disappears and clears your way. It might be not so bad when you exactly know when to pull out an item out of your pocket, but you know how point-and-click games are… From now and then you use every item because the game disagreed with your first choice.
Tiny flaw is also the map of the city where you can choose your next location. Sometimes it was hard to make out where you can go next to since the building or places are highlighted with thin red line art. I really had to squint with my already, gamescreen-damaged eyes even more to see teeny tiny places.
Before wrapping up this section, I’d like to address one issue that drove me insane. The walking speed of the characters… If you played with Flint or Amber, Ted follows you with a short delay. If you just wanted to skip to the next screen, tap the A button again and you’re outta there. If you wanted to go to, say pick up an object from the other end of the screen… Sit back, enjoy watching both characters leisurely taking a stroll to it.
I know it’s about sending the player around countless times in point-and-click adventures, but I’ve seen games from the same genre handling that better. Thimbleweed Park is a great example here.
AUDIO & VOICE ACTING
As I was downloading that title, I was honestly wondering why it takes so long to get it installed. After playing it a bit, I knew why. That game has voice acting throughout the whole game! It is impressive how much work went into it, and I have to say that the voice acting feels pretty decent and well made as well.
Although the whole acting left a good impression on me, I often had the feeling the side characters had a more fitting and better quality than the main characters. Even though Miles Rand did a good job giving Ted E. Bear his voice, the raspy shade of the voice was too much for me. Sometimes voices have an impression on you and hearing Ted the way he talked made me feel… restless. I know that I am weird, but I hope you can relate or know what I mean. His voice wasn’t bearable for me (no pun intended here), because it constantly felt unnatural for me.
The intro song is very, very creepy. Your Jen does not like anything creepy. So that got me worried. Like I said in the story section, the game has some hints and traces of a scary storyline, but it was bearable (… At least once I had to use it for a pun, now for real, sorry!).
As I told you in the story section, the voice acting and dialogues are pretty detailed. You can feel the emotions and it being very important to the development team to deliver a good job.
Probably to not steal the voice actors spotlight, music wasn’t present in the game, only during very impactful events. Music is always very important to me, so I felt it is missing sometimes. But, like I said, it would be overwhelming when it would put on top of the voice acting. I would have wished for it being played in during the times you gather items and investigate.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE
Let’s take a closer view on the visuals. The art style of the game is, with little exceptions, completely in black and white. As soon as I mentioned “noir film” style, this fact probably didn’t hit you hard.
Towards the end of the main game, Bear with me will embrace some colors as well as two other things (the “Red Man” as well as a piece of cloth) being highlighted along the playthrough. The overall style of world and characters are rather cute and fitting the theme well that Amber is still a little child and she is having her own little universe with her toys.
The performance of the game was smooth. I experienced some hiccups, though, even a glitch. The loading times are long. Really long. Not as long as some dialogues, but still. Every time you will go to another screen, there’s that loading screen. Quite fitting somehow, since the noir film style is rather retro, as well as loading times. Even though I am a fan of retro games, I definitely do not miss those long loading screens.
To be honest, I can understand them, though. With the game being fully voiced over and you being able to interact with almost everything, there has to be some “downside” with it.
Let’s talk about that glitch, though. It happened in episode 2 of the main game. I was at the casino, trying to give a NPC an item. I accidentally went to the next screen without noticing. Suddenly I switched the rooms while in conversation. Going back only canceled that dialogue and I was left with no choice rather than reload my file. The item I desperately needed to hand over so the story could proceed was gone. Also, the faces beside the text box were messed up and only showed a white box (see image below).
Thankfully, Bear with me has a forgiving and generous autosave function alongside the option to save manually every time your gaming heart desires to. Nonetheless, that was just annoying, but probably just a cooperation of my Joy-Con drifting, me pushing the wrong button at the wrong time and the programmer probably not thinking of something like that. Nothing like that happened to me again, though.
Unless the mentioned hiccups I mentioned before. Sometimes there were some dialogues that you could not proceed faster through. You could do that by pushing a button, so the text was fully displayed in a blink rather than slowly moving along with the voice acting. This occurred to me randomly in episode 3, but I am not sure if it was just me playing for very long in one sitting, so the game had problems performing over time or it was intended. The dialogue where that happened was not a key conversation essential to the game, so it was rather strange but left me wondering about it.
Although I would not recommend it to everyone, especially not if you are new to the genre. The story felt sometimes a little out of place and if the story writer wasn’t sure in which direction to go. In my opinion, it could have been told better (less focus on some aspects, way more on others). If you are not a fan of much to read, this title will test your patience if not oversaturate you for this genre completely.
If you don’t care about that, the little bumps in the road due to a few little things that could be improved (like combining items and make the characters walk faster) do not ruin the game for you. I liked to play both Bear With Me and Bear With Me: The Lost Robots, especially because there was a unique attempt to combine a Toy Story-esque world with a noir film, but probably won’t reach for it again to replay it again someday. I enjoyed it as a once in a lifetime experience.
Bear With Me: The Complete Edition knows where it comes from. The point-and-click aspects in the game are on point, the voice acting being performed more than just well and the story is a good one.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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