Point and click games never really sat well with me. Perhaps it’s because, as a life long console gamer, the interface never really worked well enough – and the often obtuse nature of the puzzles would have me switching off before long. Bear With Me: Complete Edition doesn’t quite avoid some of the same pitfalls, but I still found my time with it immensely enjoyable regardless.
In this complete edition, you get the 3 episode 2016 game, as well as the newly released prequel chapter: Lost Robots. As you may expect, you’re better off playing the prequel through first; though there are story beats thread throughout the episodes that will only make sense once you’ve been through all four.
For the most part, you’ll play as Ted. E. Bear – a wise cracking private eye who’s as grizzled and bitter as they come – alongside either Flint Ashworth (in Lost Robots) or Amber Ashworth. You’ll be investigating scenes, using the cursor to highlight items and points of interest, collecting and combining all sorts of items (and yes, there are some… interesting decisions here) and talking to characters to progress to plot. Typical point and click stuff, then. It’s all done with a brilliant charm and humour, however, and kept me invested right until the end.
Presented almost exclusively in a Noir-filtered black and white, you can practically smell the cigarette smoke and booze as you talk to shady low lives in Paper City’s various locales. But, there’s also a feeling that all is not quite what it seems. I’ll not go too far with story stuff here, but there’s a rather touching and somewhat emotional story to uncover. While you’ll likely surmise an idea of what’s coming a little while before end, it still had the desired effect on me when it played out.
Along the way, the interactions between Ted, Amber and the host of characters you’ll meet are – for the most part – entertainingly written and performed. There’s plenty of wise cracks, innuendo and puns that you may expect from a Noir style game. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Amber and Ted throughout, their bickering and in-fighting providing a nice contrast to the more tender moments they share as you progress. But, also a fair few nods to pop culture at large. From Jaws through to Metal Gear Solid and beyond, a lot of scenes have at least one reference that breaks the fourth wall. This could’ve come off as somewhat cliche, but they are kept short enough and are well done so that they never come off that way.
Slightly less entertaining, however, are some of the flat or outright bad delivery of some of the lines; particularly Ted himself. Imagine any generic private eye film, and you will likely hear the voice instantly; flat, gravelly tone that expresses little emotion. This is fine for the most part, but I get the feeling that some of the lines were done in a single take, without the actor having read ahead before hand. The timbre can be a bit…erratic at times. There was even rare occasions where you could hear a line being fluffed, and corrected, with no editing. Granted, these issues are hardly emblematic of the game as a whole, but it did detract a little from the experience. Much more frequently, the last word of dialogue gets abruptly cut off completely. There are subtitles to read along to, but for such a voice-over heavy game, these little issues seem oddly overlooked.
As point and click games go, the puzzles here are perhaps on the easier side, though not without their difficulty spikes. Most of the time, you’ll just need to scan the environment for any interactions and follow the obvious steps. Everything interact-able has a magnifying glass icon (often with accompanying witty take), but crucial items will make themselves know with a hand symbol also. If you can pick it up, you can use it somewhere. While I found that simple logic was enough to solve the majority, there were more than a few occasions where I got truly stumped. As this game has been out elsewhere for a while, there a thankfully guides online that I had to resort to more than once. Some of the solutions were, once you see it, relatively straight forward; but there were a couple that I feel were just too obtuse or fiddly.
One later example has you finding 5 items for a plinth. Without realising, I had missed one small object in a completely different area nearly an hour beforehand. While I’m sure a brute force approach would have got me there eventually, the few examples of this really upset the momentum. It doesn’t help that everything is in black and white too. While the visual style of the game is great, with well drawn characters and environments, nothing really stands out in terms of knowing whether you can interact with it or not. Even when not stuck, I found myself just slowly dragging the cursor from left to right until something popped up, rather than looking at the scene itself. At the same time, some of the solutions genuinely brought a smile to my face, whether because they were clever, or simply amusing.
But, these niggles aside, Bear With Me still managed to keep me hooked right through. While the obtuse nature of traditional point and click puzzles still rears its head here, they are the exception rather than the rule. The characters are well written, and I found myself really growing attached to Amber, Flint and Ted as well as most of the supporting cast. There’s a surprisingly touching narrative to uncover too, with extra little side stories tucked in along the way that flesh the world out nicely.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.