I’m back in this city again. A city that is dark and oppressive. A city filled with the vain and violent. A city of grey. But it isn’t the city’s fault. She made it that way. And she is back, for now. Will she get the answers she seeks? More importantly, is this the last time she will walk these streets? A change is coming, but will we all live to see it?
Bear With Me: Episode Two is the continuation of Amber and Ted’s investigation into the disappearance of Flint and the appearance of the Red Man. Game play hasn’t changed any since the first episode. The player still points and clicks their way through a series of logic or conversation puzzles, picks up items, and generally does all the classic adventure game stuff.
So if you were attracted to the game play of Episode One, then you will be happy that Episode Two continues this approach. The puzzles aren’t too complex, and there are almost no unnecessary trials to extend the game time. The, dare I say it, bare minimum of puzzles needed to achieve the required story beats are used.
Of course, the real question is, has Bear With Me managed to sustain its biggest draw-card; the script writing? Episode One was full of quick and witty banter which occasionally descended into heartfelt prose. A great nod to the noir genre.
Certainly, Episode Two has managed to maintain the rapid quips and off-hand descriptions. Amber and Ted still have a complex relationship, which manifests as a fast back-and-forth dialogue which can be both friendly and confrontational. And they will still just as often make amusing pop culture reference as provide a mundane description.
The characters which the pair talk to are also handled well. Each has their own personality, making every conversation interesting to engage in. Whether it is the growling gangster shark King, manic vigilante CBG, or even an incidental conversation with a bouncer gorilla, all the characters feel like they have a history and motives.
There are far more characters in Episode Two than there were in Episode One, over three times as many. So it could have been easy for the developers to lose the same focus on character dialogue that the first episode had. Thankfully this isn’t the case, and conversations flow quite naturally.
Some of the writing has become a bit obtuse, though, with small selections of dialogue suddenly and awkwardly shifting direction. This does make some conversations hard to follow, as players are forced to catch up as they try and decipher what just happened. Thankfully this only rarely happens, and is hardly a black spot against the game.
In fact, the only part of Episode Two I found less than stellar was the last few sections and wrap up. The end seems rushed, like the player is forced through the finale of the episode, rather than participating in the unfolding discovery that the rest of the game feels like. This is quite disappointing, as it not only concludes the episode, but also sets the momentum for the next instalment. As it is at the moment, a lot of the tension and intrigue just dissipates with the arrival of the ending, and the conflict introduced between Amber and Ted seems overly forced.
There are a handful of other hiccups. The load time from scene to scene is just that little bit too long. And it doesn’t always comfortably handle speeding through dialogue, if you are replaying a section and skipping through it. Also, the same problem of the Amber and Ted sprites sometimes clashing as the engine tries to resolve where they are walking too also persists.
SUMMARY: Even with these missteps taken into account, Episode Two is a worthy second part to the Bear With Me series. The games scope has been considerably extended, with more locations and characters, but the attention to detail and clever writing has been maintained. I am as excited as ever to follow this story and see where it goes.
Bear With Me is developed and published by Exordium Games. Episode Two is available as downloadable content for Bear With Me, and is out now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 4 hours
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