Ignorance is Bliss
It should be pretty obvious that, throughout the past two episodes, Exordium Games’ point-and-click adventure Bear With Me has been building itself up. The game starts out (sort of) innocently enough with a story about about clever 10-year-old Amber who sets off on a journey to look for her missing brother, aided along the way by her cranky and sharp-witted teddy bear Ted E. Bear. The whole “missing brother” thing aside, the game doesn’t give off a very threatening vibe in the beginning. In fact, it’s probably some of the most playful noir storytelling that I’ve seen. That whimsical motif doesn’t stick around forever, though.
Before long, things start to get serious. Surprisingly so, in fact. Despite primarily taking place within the mind of a child, Bear With Me quickly transitions from a “playtime” vibe, to full-on film noir. And things only get darker when the time comes for Amber to face her fears in Bear With Me – Episode 3.
Bear With Me – Episode 3 picks up right where Episode 2 leaves off. Having found themselves in the middle of a heated argument about their next move, Ted and Amber go their separate ways. Eager to put the Red Man menace to rest once and for all, Amber decides to investigate Tigren’s lair. And Ted, being Ted, decides to go find comfort at the bottom of a bottle. After a short monologue and a pep talk from some of his friends… er, “friends”… Ted decides to go make things right with Amber — only to arrive too late. It seems that Amber has gotten herself captured by some of the most twisted toys in all of Paper City. And there’s only one stuffed animal who can save her. (It’s Ted, by the way.)
Fans of Bear With Me, allow me to put your mind at ease; Episode 3 is definitely the best one yet. It’s also the most emotional. The first two episodes spent plenty of time building up a relationship between the player, Amber, Ted, and the rest of Paper City, and Episode 3 spends a good portion of time tearing all of that down. Assuming you’ve played the first two episodes, you should have seen this coming. It’s still sad to watch, though.
Riddle Me This, Doll
Bear With Me – Episode 3 provides more of the same kind of point-and-click adventure goodness that you’ve come to expect thus far. Although the longest in the series, Episode 3 paces itself as well as its predecessors with a “just right” level of difficulty when it comes to is actual point-and-click elements. Items are always hidden well, but never unfairly, and the game is never ambiguous about what the player needs to do next. There were a few times when I wasn’t sure exactly how to use an item, but it never took long for me to figure out what to do.
What did trip me up were the puzzles. Maybe it’s because there aren’t many puzzles within the game in the first place, but it seems as though someone at Exordium Games felt it necessary to really test its player base when it came to these. In a way, I kind of feel like I’m putting myself out on a limb here. Maybe these puzzles are easy for most people. Maybe I’ll only be one of a few who has difficulty with them. Who knows? Regardless, I feel like there’s something to be said when a game presents you with a puzzle in the very beginning which has you so confused that you end up giving up for a while.
There is one new mechanic that, while not actually gameplay-impacting, gives this episode a distinct feel; consistent perspective shifts. In contrast with the rest of Bear With Me, Episode 3 never has Amber and Ted exploring as a duo. Instead, you’ll be guiding both characters on their own adventures. …Even if most of those adventures are just one character chasing another. Since most of the game is from Amber’s perspective, the Ted-only segments provide a refreshing new narrative. It was also amusing to see Ted and Amber react to the same situations differently (or in some cases, not so differently!).
Means to an End
Normally, I would avoid talking about the end of a game. I think that I’m going to make an exception here, though. Bear With Me‘s film noir vibe is very enjoyable, but I’ve got to give credit to Episode 3 for switching things up near the end of the game. After the passing of certain events, Amber finally finds herself ready to face the Red Man head-on. But, before that, she realizes that she needs to face herself. Mixing haunting and clever metaphors together with the fear that we’ve all experienced when coming to terms with reality, Bear With Me – Episode 3 manages to deliver an endgame narrative capable of capturing its audience like never before.
Unfortunately, despite the endgame being nothing short of thrilling, the ending itself fell a bit flat in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that it’s bad. In many ways, it was just fine. Still, after it was all said and done, I found myself unsure as to why certain things happened. Or, at the very least, why they happened the way that they did. I’m not even certain that I could tell you what I was expecting. The entire ordeal was so abstract that it could have been a number of things. Considering how intense of a buildup the game was going through during its final moments however, adding a little bit of flourish to the ending certainly wouldn’t have hurt anything.
What has Come to Pass
Bear With Me – Episode 3 didn’t have quite as an impactful conclusion as I would have liked. That being said, it was still an enjoyable experience, and certain parts of it were quite impressive. For those of you who have been following Bear With Me thus far, Episode 3 is definitely worth your time. And to those who haven’t played the game at all, it’s worth considering. Bear With Me might not be the most challenging point-and-click adventure out there, but it’s still very engaging. And, ironic as it may sound, I wouldn’t let my stance on the game’s ending bother you too much either. If you’re nitpicky on details like I am it’s a bit of a letdown, but for those of you are less scrutinizing then I’d say that it wraps up pretty nicely.
FINAL VERDICT: 3.5/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: Exordium Games ; Developer: Exordium Games ; Players: 1 ; Released: October 5, 2017 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: $4.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Bear With Me – Episode 3 given to Hey Poor Player by the Developer