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Review: The Lost Bear for PSVR

Lost BearThe teams Fabrik Games and OddBug Studio have a new game on their hands; The Lost Bear (PSVR,$12.99). They reached out to me as I review a lot of PSVR games for our site and asked if I would take a look at theirs as well. Naturally, I obliged and here we are today. Does The Lost Bear stand out in the world of indie VR games or is it just another ho-hum attempt? Read on to find out what The Lost Bear has in store. I have a beautiful trailer for you to check out. After I saw this trailer, I absolutely fell in love with what I saw. I’m sure you will too.

Here’s a breakdown of the description and features of the game

‘Description

Immerse yourself in the hand-drawn world of The Lost Bear, help Walnut on her journey home through a mysterious land corrupted by the toy stealing Snatcher. Play using a unique combination of fully realized 3D VR environments and 2D Platforming to solve puzzles and rescue Walnut’s teddy bear! As you progress on your journey you will discover a unique world in both 2D and VR. Use intuitive VR interactions that connect you with the world to help Walnut escape The Snatcher’s Hounds and find her way back home.

History

The lost bear is co-developed by Fabrik games and OddBug Studio and published by Fabrik Games

Features

  • Help Walnut rescue her teddy from the clutches of the evil Toysnatcher and guide her back to the safety of her Brother.
  • Be immersed in a variety of unique 2D and 3D VR environments that change around you as you progress through the world.
  • As the 2D action unfolds in the theatre screen use a variety of machines in the 3D VR diorama space to help Walnut overcome the Snatchers hounds.
  • Using the tracked DS4 controller take direct control of Walnuts slings shot in order to distract the Snatchers hounds and complete puzzles.
  • Unique use of VR’

Audio: 

From the very start of this game, I was awestruck by the immediate sound effects that greeted me. Even as you’re sitting on the home screen of the game you have ultra-immersive sound effects all around you. Now the sounds that you get are from the setting of a forest or at that’s what it is in the onset of the game’s introduction. These high-quality sounds are more than that. They have a deep richness to them. You have sounds originating from different distances from you and all sort of coexisting as you play. The sound quality never depreciates or degrades at any point in the game. It’s always balanced and tender to the ears. As the game continues you’ll have more industrial sounds as it were.

Truth be told I loved the beautiful sounds and tones in the home screen that I sort of sat there for 5 minutes or so just taking in the sounds and enjoying the scenery. I kind of just looked up at the sky and the branches that were arching overhead. It was the closest thing to being in a forest that us “privileged” city folk don’t get to enjoy. It evoked a very wonderous and childlike feeling inside of me. Which, I suppose was the point so that we could be in the shoes of our protagonist. The sounds were just the best possible icing on the cake. There’s no suggestions, complaints, or questions that I have in terms of the audio effects and quality. 10/10

Soundtrack:  

The soundtrack too evoked the feelings of hope and childhood wonder. It pulled from deep inside of you the feeling of peace. The beginning of the game had such beauty and tranquility within the music. It was almost as if the music itself was one of the many sound effects. Just as birds sing, so too did the forest with the music that made up this game. As I mentioned above, as the game continued we get taken into territories out of the main character’s comfort zone. But the character is so driven and determined that the music had to reflect it; and reflect it it did. As we get into scarier locations and deeper into this world that we learn is anything but serene, the music creates this eerie and cautious vibe. This tonally keeps you moving though as you want to escape the sadness and fear. Obviously the whole game isn’t terror infused music. You will eventually gain what you set out to get and the music returns to gorgeous tones hope and prosperity.

I wouldn’t say that there is a specific soundtrack to this game as the music all seems to be seamless with the setting. But if there was one I would put it on to go to sleep to, it’s just that fantastic. Now of course, it can’t be all great, I have only one small complaint and that’s that if I put it into 5.1 surround sound that the music only seems to come from the front? All of the other sound effects come from whichever speakers that they’re supposed to. I’m guessing that this is because the stage in front of you, where the actual gameplay is taking place, is straight ahead. Or this could be some faulty speakers, but I doubt that. I’m just assuming that the game’s audio was mastered that way. I would at least like a feature where I can have immersive music no matter which way I look at which time if I’m not wearing headphones. 8/10

Visuals:  

This game is gorgeous. I like how there is always something to look at, there is always something going on somewhere on the screen. Maybe it’s something that catches your eye or maybe it’s something big and distracting (in a good way of course). The developers took a novel approach to the way the game looks. You have a stage in front of you with the game play and all the while you sit in a chair in the forest, yards away from the stage. So you are in this forest and so is the main character. All of her trees and such are to scale, but you also have the same surrounds and they are also true to your scale. The characters and models on the stage seem to be a bit more cell shaded. I’m not entirely certain that this was a choice that the developers had from the beginning or if it was more of a necessity considering that you’re in a VR landscape and the characters are small so they need more definition of their outline.

The levels dynamically change and there do not seem to be any real loading screens. It’s all very much a continuation from left to right. If there are loading screens they must have been quite minimal as I don’t rightly remember seeing any. As the scenery changes in the game play the scenery also changes all around you. This is to keep you as immersed as possible since you can’t be on the stage with the main character. The scenery around you does not seem to have that same cell shaded feel. The exception might be small items like bugs or leaves. All in all it looks great from far away, but if items come closer to you they seem to be a bit wonky looking. This rarely happens and may be something that could be patched later on. The game also sets the mood better through its music and sounds than it does its overall look. I found that the fog that was rolling around was a bit too fake in comparison to the rest of the scenery and it seemed to be used a lot. They made it look more like different thicknesses of transparent grey sheets. I would’ve appreciated more of a cloudy look to it, more round and full. 7/10

Gameplay:  

I would love to talk about how wonderful the gameplay is for a moment. Heck, I would love to talk about it a long time in fact. But all in all I have to be honest and state that I can’t. I was very excited that the team reached out to me to cover this game and while it’s not bad, I wouldn’t say that I had the best time playing it either. I love the characters obviously, you can tell that they have a true and caring relationship. I love the level design as well. It truly made you wish that you were living her life of serenity. I was absolutely into the puzzle solving and thinking fast on your feet. It definitely was helpful that she has a slingshot and that slingshot has unlimited ammo. But it doesn’t really do much aside from helping you get things from high places or cause distractions or summon a ghost bear(?)

The difficulty was there too and I don’t mean all bad difficulty. There were definitely challenging parts that were fun. I love how the game was a more colorful version of Limbo. At least you know what drives this character from beginning to end. When I say colorful, I just mean that there isn’t dark characters with no definition. This game has some color and vibrancy to it comparatively. Now, the part that I hated the most and in my eyes broke the game to me was the mechanic where the wheel pops up and you set your controller in it to move bridges and such. I will go into it much more in the VR Reflections section down below, but boy, it is a doozy. It made me stop so many times and literally give up. It was so frustrating that it countered, undid, and negated everything I liked about the game up to that point. And then when I found out that it wasn’t just a one time thing and that I had to do it more and more throughout the game I became visibly upset and just took of my VR headset and walked away.

There is so much good in this game for this one thing to ruin it all. In fact, I’m certain I’ve never been so conflicted by a game before. I was so close to giving this game a really good score on gameplay. I was playing it and in my head thinking, “Oh my god, this is a masterpiece, it can only get better from here!”. But that was not the case. It’s feels like cruising down a highway and enjoying the sounds and sites and then having to stop and fill up the gas or change the tire every 5 minutes. Or at least that’s the only way that I can describe it without others having played the game to know what I mean. 6/10

Replay-ability:  

The Lost Bear does seem to lack replay-ability overall. Naturally, with PlayStation 4 games there are trophies and such that encourage replay and heighten replay value overall. But if we’re talking just the game itself, as is-we’re not getting really any reason to go back and do it all over again. Now granted, as I mentioned before, the game isn’t terribly long but is on the pricier side for a non-AAA game. That alone may be reason enough for you to want to tackle this game another time or two. But aside from everything I just said, again, the game just isn’t offering you anything more after the fact. I would say play it once, leave it alone for a year, come back to it again with a fresh mind and let it sweep you off your feet once more. 3/10

VR Reflections:   

This game is gorgeous as I mentioned in the visuals. I only complained of the fog and the strange disconnect between cell shaded and non-cell shaded assets. These were easier on the eyes while playing the game in VR, which is all that you can do. Had this game had a non-VR counterpart, I would wager that these complaints of mine would be bigger. In audio I complained that it basically required headphones to enjoy the music better. So if you’re playing this game on PSVR, make certain to simply use headphones as it will make a world of difference.

I didn’t finish this review for a long time as I would get frustrated when having to do the gameplay mechanic in which you connect your virtual PS4 controller to the wheel that pops up in front of you and use it to move other objects in the world in some capacity and so I would just give up. Let me explain why this frustrated me and had everything to do with the VR. As you play this game you are sitting in a virtual chair with a virtual PS4 controller in your hand. The game knows how tall you are, but it kind of doesn’t care, or maybe it simply can’t care. So when you get to one of the several points in the game where you have to press Square and the wheel pops up, it can be quite low to the ground if you are tall. I found myself bending very far over, like between my knees to reach it. And that’s if I was successful. Sometimes you don’t even get the game to register that the controller is right there and you have to sit back up and then bend back down again. Consistently, every time I had one, I would say it took a minimum of 5 tries to achieve it. And once you finally do get it to work, the fact that you have to stay bent over doesn’t feel terribly comfortable at all. And if I didn’t get it, the motion of me doing sit ups in a VR space was making me quite motion sick.

Aside from that aspect, the game has I would say less than 5% of chances to get motion sick. It invites you to look around it and gives you elements that pop up out of nowhere and then disappear before you know it, as a taste of what the main character is feeling. But as long as you don’t move your head all around really fast to look at the world and you are short enough to pull off the controller wheel moves, then you will literally be able to stomach this game. 6/10

If you’re wanting The Lost Bear, you can download the game by clicking here.

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