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Review: Bear With Me: Episode 3 (PC)By Adam Riley At 10.10.2017 23:45

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Just before the credits started rolled in Bear With Me: Episode 2, Amber and Ted had fallen out, going their separate ways after an almighty blowout following one too many strained, and out of the ordinary, events took place. Episode 3 picks up straight after this, with Amber trapped after going solo, in desperate search of an escape route, trying to get out before a dangerous showdown takes place. By the time Ted comes back into the fray, said shootout has indeed occurred, and already the duo are starting to miss each other's company, each also being worried about the welfare of the other. There is no character switching this time round, as a result of the two protagonists being apart… In fact, there is not much in the way of actual gameplay at all as this has a strong feeling of a "quick, let's wrap things up" project, rather than the originally planned in-depth middle chapter of a series it very well could have been. It becomes like an interactive ride through Paper City, and even then only through a small selection of its sights, seeing out the final throes of Bear With Me, with the odd nudge from players here and there to keep things ticking along and keep interest for a tad longer.

As a result, there are only a few puzzles included, and they are not particularly well developed, unfortunately, with a couple of specifically obtuse ones that will actually leave most resorting to trial-and-error to get past them and back to the core yarn being spun. Other conundrums, on the flipside, are nothing more than mere fetch quests, with no real thought required at all, so the pendulum does swing from one extreme to the other. However, as said, there are barely any brainteasers included in this finale at all, since most of the roughly two-hour escapade is taken up by Amber or Ted's ridiculously slow walking or the sheer exposition as the story edges ever closer to its end point. That means that what is there in terms of puzzle content does not grate as it may have done had there been too many on offer.

What is interesting here is that despite the fact that the original tale was indeed meant to be stretched out to the five episodes mentioned by the developer to Cubed3 last year, the content included in this third, and now final, part of the story is actually perfectly sufficient. Okay, there are certain elements that feel like they have been hastily wrapped up, but honestly that is only because of the prior knowledge of plans for an expanded storyline. Going in blind, this could easily have just been a trilogy from the start, so perhaps it is for the best that things were not strung along for longer than necessary. Better to have the audience hungry for more than leave a bad taste in their mouths, after all.

Stylistically, Bear With Me is as gorgeous as ever, with the neo-noir setting perfect for Ted E. Bear and his gumshoe-style approach, with both aesthetic theme and voice acting strongly reminiscent of Tex Murphy, except in stuffed toy form set against an almost cartoon-esque Sin City backdrop. Maybe Exordium should talk to Big Finish Games about having a Ted E. Bear cameo in next year's The Poisoned Pawn: A Tex Murphy Adventure… That would be very interesting indeed!

Voice casting is again of extremely high quality, apart from Ted himself (as before), with some of his lines delivered in a really stilted manner, missing some of the natural inflections indicated by the script, and even sounding too clipped in places, as if short sentences were recorded and pieced together afterwards. Add in how there is too much bass effect applied to his tone (or so it seems) and, sadly, whilst not completely awful, his voice does prove to be the weakest of the impressive cast.

Bear With Me: Episode 3 is nails the atmospheric soundtrack and visuals, though, which helps keep attention high. As mentioned, though, it is too light on the puzzle front, even more so than in the first episode. Thankfully, it is covered up to a degree by the delivery of the concluding stages of the narrative, which manage to tug on the heart strings far more than would have been expected given the black humour that runs throughout the rest of the adventure. Whatever gripes there may be with the (lack of) puzzling, what cannot be taken away from Exordium is how emotive the final scenes are. The writing is spot on, bringing a lump to the throat, tear to the eye, and so on. It is sad to see Bear With Me depart earlier than expected, but hopefully it sees enough success to warrant a 'full season' release on other systems, especially since the touch screen setup would work perfectly well on something like Nintendo Switch, and having all three episodes in one low-priced package would certainly up the value stakes and make for a more enjoyable romp.

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Final Score
[i]Bear With Me[/i]'s second episode took so many steps in the right direction that it is extremely disappointing to see this finale drop back to the levels of the first outing, with barely any puzzles of note included and those that are there either being too simplistic or too obtuse to be memorable in a positive way. The tale comes to a tear-jerking conclusion, but with this originally being planned as a five-part masterpiece, it is sad to see things hastily wrapped up in [i]Episode 3[/i] instead. Fans of the previous two entries, though, will be overjoyed to see their favourite characters again in this well presented point-and-click adventure, and the desire to see how it all ends will keep people going, despite the flaws.

6

/10

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