It's easy to just focus on the violence, simply because it's so unnervingly visceral. But Naughty Bear
isn't all about violence per se. The game is a fun arcade-style adventure that rewards stealth and mischief -- the player is supposed to be a naughty
bear, not necessarily a murderous one. Each of the game's scenarios offers a playground for players to explore. While there are specific goals, such as infiltrating a certain building, or "taking care" of a specific character, the primary objective is to obtain as high a score as possible. Points are measured not by your number of kills, but by the level of fear you instill in the virtual populace.
rewards stealth and subtlety. You can hide in the grass, break through a window, and then hide in a locker, watching as the bears respond in different ways. Some will become cautious, others will become scared and some will even get aggressive. The HUD features scrolling text that indicates mood changes in the various NPCs, and a helpful PIP video will appear near the top of the screen to show exactly how the bears are responding. The AI is adorably responsive: in one scene, I saw a bear run into a house, and then push a dresser in front of the door to block intruders. (Call it the "bearicade" reaction.)
Once Naughty Bear starts being naughty, the pressure is on. As with any good score-based game, Naughty Bear
features an all-important score multiplier that increases with every naughty act the player commits in rapid succession. To keep the multiplier building, players must risk flashier moves as enemy bears increase their resistance. Bears can and will fight back, usually with a variety of weapons. Some bears can even call for reinforcements -- and police bears are a rather dangerous foe, wielding guns that blast right through your fabric
When the odds seem overwhelmingly against you, it might seem best to just fight back with a murderous rampage
. Killing lots of bears will certainly maintain your score multiplier, but to reach the top of the online leaderboards, you'll have to squeeze every possible point out of your victims. If you can scare a bear beyond its maximum threshold, it becomes vulnerable to one of the greatest finishing attacks I've ever witnessed in a game: Instead of murdering a bear, you can push it to the point of suicide. Yes, bears that are completely drained of "scare" points will kill themselves with whatever weapon they're wielding. Gruesome? Of course. Hilarious? You bet! Adorable?
gameplay is refreshing, and the game's presentation is absolutely spot-on. However, I am concerned that the game will get old quick. While there's obviously a lot of planning involved in executing a "perfect" run, you might get desensitized to the hyper-violence pretty fast, and then the game loses much of its appeal.
My preview, however, offered hints of added depth to Naughty Bear
that might counteract my chief concern: as players progress through the game, they'll unlock costumes, which grant Naughty Bear some additional powers. (For example, he can wear a ninja suit and be granted stealthy powers.) Playing to climb the leaderboards, though, is definitely going to be the true attraction for those that become addicted to Naughty Bear
. You'll be able to go for that high score on PS3 and Xbox 360 this June.