There have been a few exceptional PSVR titles over the last year and I have been lucky enough to review most of them but I must say, ‘The lost bear’ from indie developers the Odd-Bug studios must be one of the most charming and natural VR experiences to date.
The lost Bear is your classic side scrolling platformer presented on a virtual stage and as the player you are watching and participating from the front seats of the theatre but the elegant twist to this game is the VR presentation. Dependant on what current environment your characters find themselves in the game brings subtle aspects of these varying sets out and around your headset.
I suppose it could be classed as 3D more than VR but it is implemented so well you find yourself fully immersed into your characters plight and wellbeing through the presentation, for instance in one section the you find yourself surrounded by firefly’s, buzzing around your head because the current stage performance has firefly’s buzzing around your characters head, another level sees you walking through a corn field and suddenly you see corn shoots all around, it’s this really simple but effective use of the VR that lofts this simple puzzler well above most 2d side scrolling games.
The story sees you playing Walnut who has had her treasured teddy bear stolen by a spider type creature after a small tumble down a hill, now on the hunt to find it she stumbles into a mysterious and corrupt world ruled by someone or something called “The Snatcher”. On your journey of perils, you are accompanied by an older gentleman who is never really introduced so I can only presume it’s her father, you also receive assistance from a mysterious bear who again never really gets fully introduced.
Gameplay is your basic platform progression and has a very similar feel to Playdead’s classic Limbo or Inside, and the more recent 2D masterpiece The Great War-Valiant Hearts. There is no dialogue in the lost bear leaving you to read the situation by watching the actions and gestures of the characters onscreen which I feel developer Odd-bug have managed to convey perfectly.
Controls are as basic as they come with some very brief inventive aspects, but overall, it’s the simple and generically mapped buttons, functions and gameplay – use lever to lower this bridge or create a path using this piece of the environment. Working out these puzzles aren’t overly challenging but trying to avoid the Robot dogs, Ghostly bears and other varying NPC’s doing their best to ensure your quest ends abruptly can be.
And ending abruptly it will as many times throughout the adventure you are required to make jumps and various other instant death feats requiring perfect timing and placement, one second or one Millimetre early or late sees your character fall to her death leaving you to reload to the last save point, luckily it’s never too far away or exactly where you originally attempted the jump so no replaying whole sections to get back to where you died last, the only negative thing with the deaths are the loading times which seem overly long for such a simplistic game.
As well as the VR presentation, the lost bear uses the Dualshock4 controller as a tool with many puzzles and paths requiring you to move the controller to operate the varying machinery and interactive elements of the environment to help find your lost bear.
The only negative comment I can even think of mentioning regarding The Lost Bear is its playtime, with a total of five levels ranging from a forest, junkyard, a factory and the later darker level in the sewers I have managed to finish it in just under an hour and a half and that’s with multiple deaths, add to this the asking price and I feel the developer is wanting a little too much for this short but stunning little adventure.
However, this is a very minor criticism as developer Odd-Bug studios have created a beautifully presented slice of old school 2d side scrolling, with simple but thought-provoking puzzles that will hinder for the briefest of time before the penny drops, adding to that the implementation of the Dualshock4 motion controls to aid progression and the 3D/VR visual style I can whole heartedly recommend the lost bear.
Yes, it’s a little pricey at £9.99 for at best a two-hour game but with all the current VR games looking to either scare the pants of you, burn your corneas with blazing firefights or just simply turn your stomach upside down with motion sickness, the lost bear is a little slice of simplistic challenges presented in beautiful surroundings with a basic soundtrack of acoustic guitar that will leave you with no doubt that the PSVR was built for little gems like this.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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