After several long months away, I the gritty streets of Paper City once again, ready to investigate the third and final episode of Bear With Me. Like most fans, I was expecting the same wit and tone which had sucked me into the first two episodes of this funny noir point-and-click game by Exordium Games, but I was naive. If you’re expecting the same-old same-old, you’d better strap in, doll, because things are about to change.
As Episode 2 closed, we watched Amber, a ten-year-old girl investigating the disappearance of her older brother, split ways with Ted, her jaded, booze-hound teddy bear partner. It may have felt like an eternity ago for those of us on the outside, but hardly any time has passed within Paper City. Even so, it seems like nothing is the same. The “red man,” an arsonist who has placed a target on Amber’s back, has practiced his trade on more buildings, making a smoldering wreckage out of an iconic location from Episode 2. Loyalties within the game have shifted, and among all of this, Amber and Ted must continue their investigations… separately.
Episode 3 is the most narrative-driven installment to date, and takes on a much darker and more serious tone than the previous episodes. While the overall game could have potentially benefitted from dropping hints of some of this installments reveals in Episode 2, the narrative and pace of this episode makes it both go quickly while still feeling long and full. Watching Amber and Ted soldier on in their separate investigations after working together for so long, always commenting on what the other would say, or wondering what their insight would be, is quite touching. The amazing voice acting helps articulate the emotions of these characters, and the whole episode shines with the wit, charm, puns, and noir style which fans have come to love.
Episode 3 also explores some poignant questions: How well do we really know Amber? Who was Ted’s former partner, and why doesn’t he speak of him? Who is the “red man” and why is he intent on burning Paper City to the ground? What is his connection to Amber? Just what was the name of that guard we met outside of Paper City? Brandon? Brett? Brad? Better ask Ted.
We are also reunited with a few familiar faces, and introduced to a flock of new characters. Exordium Games takes advantage of these new faces, bringing up inside jokes and comments from previous episodes, which Ted, Amber, and the player will be familiar with, while leaving newer characters confounded and in the dark.
The puzzles in this episode are some of the most difficult yet, a few of which are almost unfairly difficult. One puzzle, which you must complete before being able to play more than a few seconds of the game, provides clues as to how to solve it, but leaves out the important detail of where to start. Another puzzle, encountered later in the game, requires you to turn a set of keys in the correct sequence, while providing absolutely no clue as to how to conquer this challenge, requiring observation and guesswork. Exordium Games did make this challenge more manageable by adding a rest button, allowing you to start from square one should you mess up, which was not originally offered, and eventually posted the correct sequence in the discussions on their Steam page to help reduce frustration.
Those two aside, I found myself quickly drawn into most of the puzzles within this game, eager to solve them and to learn more. Episode 3 is the most cerebral of the installments by far, and the story is both moving and emotional. I started Episode 1 enjoying a witty little point and click adventure about a talking, carrot-juice drinking stuffed bear; I was unprepared for the depth, emotion, and genuinely touching story waiting at the end. I’m eager to play again, to learn just how the actions of the “red man” and my decisions in the final moments of the game impact the way the story concludes… and I will never forgive what was supposed to be a silly little game for bringing tears to my eyes not just once, but three times. Perhaps the biggest disappointment about this episode is that it serves as the final installment, and as I watched the closing credits, I found myself yearning for more.
Bear With Me Episode 3
Episode 3, the final installment of Bear With Me, is the darkest and most narrative-driven yet, filled with surprising depth and humanity. What started out as a silly little point-and-click adventure game has retained all its quirks and charms while telling a touching story with themes of acceptance and forgiveness. It serves as an unexpected but incredibly satisfying end to a truly memorable gaming experience.