The Lost Bear Review (PSVR)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
In the time when the VR game library seems to getting taken over by similar experiences, it is always nice what something new pops-up. Odd Bug Studio have crafted together a 2D side-scrolling platformer in VR – but does The Lost Bear excel as well as being different?
The Lost Bear does offer a story, but very little dialogue to explain it, however, it’s all in the story-telling and not the dialogue. Anyway in the opening scene you see Walnut (the character you control) and her father at a campsite, he will give you a teddy bear and all is good with the world. You will then go off with your father and learn how to use your catapult to get some honey, then you continue and fall down a small cliff, you then lose your teddy and some spider runs off with it. This where your and Walnuts adventure starts, as you look to retrieve your teddy – I don’t want to say much more. But, as mentioned there is little to no dialogue in the game but the team at Odd Bug studios really understand the skill of telling a story through the game itself.
Your gameplay is made up of multiple elements that are ever-present in side-scrolling platforming genre. You will find the main mechanic being the platforming element of jumping and timing your jumps. You are also presented with a number of puzzles on the way, be this to get platforms in place, defeat the few enemies you encounter, or to simply move forward. In order to solve these puzzles you will find yourself using either your catapult or some control panels within the game.
Now, how you use the controls is you will interact with them with Walnut and then you have to place your pad in the panel that appears in-front of you. This is something that makes the gameplay really unique from what you have experienced before in VR, and really helps you get immersed in the game. But, I would not expect to ever get overly confused with the puzzles in the game, you will find yourself solving them in little to no time. However, I find this is usually the case in the side-scrolling platform genre, as there are not as many options using a 2D platform to a 3D platform.
Where I found The Lost Bear to really standout and impress is the presentation. Each chapter gives you a different setting a forest, a junk yard, a strange-looking house or factory and finally a sewer setting. Each part looks beautifully crafted with a folksy sort of vibe to it, and it all presented really well. Adding the folksy design is a really nice acoustic soundtrack – which really drags you into Walnuts world.
The final bit of presentation I would like to look at is the use of the VR. I know many people think… Why VR if you’ve made a 2D platformer? – I did myself originally. But, the team have used the VR platform really well to make sure you get immersion from the game. You will play the game like you are sat in-front of theatre stage or in a cinema (depending how you look at it). Then this area will adapt the area of the world you are placed in, so for example when in the junk yard it will look like a junk yard around you – this really gets you involved in the game’s world. Also, some parts of the game will come out of the game towards you – like the bees out of hive you knock down at the beginning when learning the controls. Also as aforementioned the parts on the puzzles when you have to place the controller into the control panel you have interacted in with in the game world as Walnut. This adds a lot to the immersion and presentation outside of the part you are playing, it is easy to say Odd Bug really have found a great use of the VR that I wasn’t sure would be possible myself.
Given the 2D platform style of the game, I don’t think it will come to much of a shock to find out the game is played using the Duel-Shock 4 controller. The game uses multiple elements of the controller, but not that the controls are made difficult. You have X to jump, holding R2 gets your catapult out and you aim using the sixth-axis motion control in the Duel-Shock, and finally you will use square to interact with the control panels in the game. When the control panels appear in-front of you, you will place the controller shown in the VR into it. If it’s a wheel you have to turn you will hold both triggers and rotate the controller. If it’s the lift you will find yourself moving the controller sideways on up and down depending on the direction you want to move it. In the cases where you control a magnet, when prompted you will hold both the triggers to pick up the object. To stop using the control panel you will pull the controller out of it, and then press Square to stop the interaction in the game.
Now, one area the game falls down is the length of the game, you will be looking at around about one hour to get through the game – for me this included the deaths from mis-timed jumps. Where this time frame seems to be acceptable for VR titles, it still doesn’t feel right. However, where I would say The Lost Bear offers a little more is there is a number of fireflies in cans hanging around you can collect, so if you are looking for all the trophies you will have a reason to revisit the game to find all of these to knock down with your catapult. Also, I can imagine myself going back through the game, just for the lovely presentation it offers – so you might also find yourself going back to it again.
The Lost Bear is something that I will strongly recommend adding to your VR library, despite its short length. The game is something that is truly unique to the Playstation VR platform, and they’ve pulled off this 2D platformer perfectly. The presentation and story-telling in the game are both beautifully done – so do yourself a big favour and experience this game.
Also available on Oculus Rift
Developer: Odd Bug Studios