The Lost Bear (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 18.09.2017

Review for The Lost Bear on PlayStation 4

What happens when virtual reality tries to incorporate the gameplay seen in step-based platformers? These kinds of cinematic two-dimensional platformers always lean on being more about atmosphere and the experience, over deep gameplay mechanics or a high skill ceiling. A fairly novel concept to be sure, but one that really doesn't really need to be in VR at all to be enjoyed - and this could not be more evident than in The Lost Bear.

After about 30 into The Lost Bear, it becomes very obvious that Odd Bug Studio are huge fans of Playdead's Limbo. Odd Bug Studio does manage to not outright copy Playdead, though, by having a totally unique feel and atmosphere that is more whimsical than bleak, and, most notably, present itself as a virtual diorama puppet show. The sensation can be best described as sitting in a lazy-boy sofa-chair in the middle of the woods, with a stage set up serving as the actual play area, and controlling the show with a DualShock 4.

The presentation is unique, but ultimately pointless since it has no bearing on the gameplay, and only really is just a visual flourish which does admittedly add to the storybook atmosphere of the narrative. There are some instances where the game presents some motion control gimmicks that feel like they are from a tech demo from the early days of the PlayStation 3's DualShock 3. The Lost Bear is full of these gimmicky little set pieces and they are the only moments where the VR is used to create an augmented reality that just don't feel natural and are a pain to control.

The paper puppet aesthetics are quite beautiful at times, and really do have a hand-made quality that makes this title not look like a video game at all. The characters and much of the level elements are richly illustrated and has this overall cosy feel to pretty much everything. Even as the story progresses and theatre area begins to match the tone of the darker moments, it still manages to look striking.

Screenshot for The Lost Bear on PlayStation 4

Whether or not the character animation will be appealing will vary depending on the user's willingness to accept the sort of cheap-looking paper figure approach to how each character is constructed. This kind of animation is fitting to the theme of puppetry, but on the other hand it looks kind of ridiculous and can come off as low quality flash animation.

As mentioned earlier, this plays very similarly to Limbo, as it's a very methodical platformer with some environmental puzzles, and a very big emphasis on visual story telling. After the initial intro, this does not really take breaks with the exception for a few transitions. Aside from the traps, pitfalls, and puzzles, do not expect this platformer to do anything different that has been seen in other similar games like it. The VR implementation only highlights just how out of place the motion control gimmicks are, which in turn make the VR more unnecessary.

This is a really standard step-based platformer, and if it weren't for its unique art style, there would be pretty much nothing about it to make it stand out. As for the story itself, much like Playdead's classic, there is a lot left open to interpretation being how these kinds of games rely mostly on what the player brings to the experience from within. Depending on the individual, The Lost Bear can be seen as a cynical parable, or a more straightforward modern day fairy tale.

Screenshot for The Lost Bear on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The Lost Bear is a middling narrative platformer that can be too vague to really appreciate, and the really awkward motion controls do not do it any favours. If there was a standard, non-VR mode, then maybe this one might have been more tolerable. As is, this adventure fails to engage, and relies too much on its unconventional art style to give the appearance of personality, when really it's a dull Limbo imitator. Odd Bug Studio wasted the PSVR on this, and their insistence on relying on it held it back from being enjoyable.

Developer

Odd Bug Studio

Publisher

Fabrik Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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