Review: The Lost Bear
OddBug Studio makes its debut with an enthralling, original VR experience.
Fabrik Games’ virtual reality (VR) debut was expected to come by way of the PlayStation VR edition of Filthy Lucre, however instead of acting as developer the team are publishing OddBug Studio’s debut as their entry into the new medium. The Lost Bear is a very different kind of videogame to Fabrik Games’ own steal-‘em-up, instead telling a much more whimsical tale deep in a dark, corrupted land.
Playing as young Walnut, the quest before you is to rescue a stolen teddy bear. However, soon after the hunt begins Walnut becomes lost in a mysterious world corrupted by an evil being known as The Snatcher. Robot dogs, ghost bears and other creatures will help or hinder you as your journey continues, and while many of the challenges you will face may at first appear obvious in their solution, often not all is as it seems.
A 2D adventure videogame, The Lost Bear is an unusual candidate for VR, and yet it makes such wonderful use of the medium. The core gameplay loop revolves around platform-style progression and environmental puzzle solving; using levers to create pathways, avoid the line-of-sight of bad guys and other familiar convention. The arrangement and pacing of the action will be somewhat familiar to anyone who experienced Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War, while the delivery of the storyline doesn’t stray too far from the heartstring-tugging Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. What makes The Lost Bear different however, is the near-immaculate depiction of its unique world.
The action plays out on a screen in front of you almost as if it were a puppet show, while your surrounding environment takes on many different forms relating to the scene the protagonist is experiencing. Walking through a corn field will see shoots of corn protrude through the floor of the wooden shack you reside in, bees and fireflies will break the fourth wall, and later in the videogame things become significantly darker.
‘Later’ is The Lost Bear’s biggest problem, however. The mixture of platform and puzzling gameplay is engrossing, but the duration of the videogame is very much limited. Even when taking your time and soaking-up the ambiance of every varied scene, The Lost Bear is unlikely to last more than two hours at most. It’s a short-lived, yet very sweet adventure.
Offered at a launch price of £9.99 GBP, The Lost Bear offers value for money in its creative use of the medium opposed to longevity, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Despite being a relatively compact experience, OddBug Studio has created a tightly knit series of challenges invested in an eye-catching world topped-off with a VR implementation that will undoubtedly be copied by many other titles before the year is out. It’s hard to fault the team for what content is there, as in those few hours of gameplay it’s likely that you’ll find The Lost Bear to be one of the most compelling PlayStation VR videogames to date.