Detectives are well suited for point and click adventure games. Hunting for clues, interrogating other characters, solving mysteries – these are all core activities for most games in this genre and Bear With Me is no exception. Of course what’s more unusual is the fact the two main characters are Amber, a cheerful 10-year old girl, and a hard-boiled detective named Ted… who also happens to be a teddy bear.
You may have guessed from the choice of main characters that the game isn’t too serious, and you’d generally be correct. For the most part Bear With Me is fairly light-hearted and contains plenty of humour as Amber embarks on a quest throughout the upper floor of her house to find her missing brother Flint. However there’s an element of darkness often hinted at that means it may not be suitable for younger gamers. The silent, menacing antagonist the Red Man is particularly creepy and has a penchant for both murder and arson, while I can’t help but feel Amber’s over-eager imagination may be hiding a deeper tragedy.
As you’ll no doubt have noticed from the screenshots, Bear With Me has fully embraced the noir theme with black and white graphics – albeit with the occasional splash of red. Of course it’s populated with a variety of stuffed animal toys, but it’s a good look and complemented by some well-drawn graphics – even if the animation is a bit limited. The voice acting though is even better, helped of course by some funny dialogue. Amber is both enthusiastic and smart (but possibly a bit too mature to be a believable 10-year old) while Ted’s deadpan delivery is a glorious caricature of every cynical movie detective you’ve ever seen. Annoyingly however, it’s not possible to turn off the subtitles – a personal nitpick of mine.
Of course the true test of a point and click game is the gameplay itself and Bear With Me excels in this regard. Controls are fairly simple with just two commands – ‘look at’ and ‘interact’. Puzzles are logical (for the most part) and aside from one instance towards the end I didn’t get stuck ‘pixel hunting’ for an elusive item in order to progress. Although if you do ever get stuck you can simply get Amber to appeal to Ted for a clue on how to proceed.
This does lead me to a notable draw back of the game though – you’re likely to finish it within a couple of hours. Of course it is only part one of an episodic series, but most gamers would probably expect a bit more than that – even at the low price of this opening installment. So would I usually, but in the case of Bear With Me it’s completely acceptable as it’s not unnecessarily padded out by lots of aimless wondering around or pointless fetch-quests that you might find in other adventure games.
Bear With Me also scores points for being packed full of humour, good ideas and content. I was particularly impressed by the fact so many background objects can be examined with each one yielding a unique description or quip from Amber. This extends to the numerous wall-mounted pictures scattered around Amber’s home – even the individual lamps each get their own line of dedicated dialogue!
Despite never particularly excelling, Bear With Me is a perfectly satisfying little adventure game. Point and click fans who’ve been starved off quality titles of late will be well entertained for the brief period it lasts, and future episodes will hopefully be a bit more expansive as the action relocates from Amber’s house to the streets of Paper City.
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