Usually, I’m skeptical of tacked on prequels that come out after the initial material has made a boatload of money – Star Wars, for example, and Batman Arkham Origins – but I loved Bear With Me so much that when I heard about the release of its prequel The Lost Robots, I couldn’t wait.
The plot of The Lost Robots is interesting, and at first, appears to be on a different track than Bear With Me. It follows Amber’s brother, Flint, as he helps out Ted E. Bear with a case in Amber’s absence. Much like the title implies, there’s been a string of robot murders and kidnappings, and it’s up to our new dynamic duo to get to the bottom of it. For those of you who have played Bear With Me, this prequel does take place when you think it does. For those of you who haven’t played the original Bear With Me, I strongly suggest that you do that first.
As with the original game, The Lost Robots features a host of characters who play on typical noir archetypes, from the hardboiled, alcoholic detective in Ted, to the deadpan snarker, corrupt corporate executive and gang banger informants and the oddly quiet and out of place Flint. While there really aren’t any new or groundbreaking characters, it works well by playing up the traditional archetypes. Of course, most of the characters are either robots or talking animals, so it does have a twist on tradition.
Flint and Ted’s dynamic is a core part of the emotional story and is the basis for much of the game’s humor and heart. Unlike Amber, Flint doesn’t much like film noir, Paper City or even Ted in general. He’s more into superheroes, but he explains to Ted at the beginning that he’s there to help Amber with a case she’s stuck on. Meanwhile, Ted is still fully part of the noir backdrop and world, only now he’s missing his usual dame. Their dynamic is fun, and between Flint’s common sense and Ted’s general sour demeanor, there’s a lot of sharp back and forth between them and witty dialogue. There’s no love lost between these two, but they both adore Amber and that binds them together. While at first their dynamic feels very one-sided and rests heavily on Ted, it’s slowly evened out over the course of the game as their character arcs develop.
The writing of The Lost Robots is just as sharp as Bear With Me, though the game is laid out differently by the necessity of being a standalone episode rather than one of three parts. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder how fish are walking on two legs and you’ll be surprised at how deep the mystery goes. Is the writing on par with a masterpiece Perry Mason novel? No, but it’s just as much fun.
Paper City’s greyscale and the sepia-tinged world is similar to how we left it. A child’s playground of noir clichés and characters, with the perfect art style to match. I’ve always been a fan of the Bear With Me art style, even though on the surface it doesn’t appear to be all that spectacular. It’s got crisp clean lines, a general dingy atmosphere is conveyed nicely and cartoon trenchcoats and fedoras abound. What I love about the art style is how well it fits this hybrid world. It shows the simplicity and fun of it being a child’s world, but at the same time makes it very obvious that this isn’t just a kiddie noir experience- bad things can happen in Paper City.
The smooth and jazzy soundtrack also works to help the art set the mood, and a special mention should go to the track from the opening menu. I haven’t been able to figure out what it’s called or who sings it, but it made me burst into tears the second time I heard it, so well done. The closest approximation I can give is that it’s somewhat like the title track from James Bond’s Goldfinger.
For those who enjoyed Bear With Me, The Lost Robots provides more of the same fun, while at the same time expanding on a few plot points from the original games. If you haven’t played Bear With Me, chances are The Lost Robots won’t be your cup of tea, as it will lack the emotional impact necessary. However, if you’ve enjoyed the series so far and are looking for some more mysteries to tackle with an alcoholic teddy bear, don’t hesitate to pick this up.
Bear With Me: The Lost Robots was reviewed on PC with a key provided by the developer.