Release Date: 31/08/2017 (Playstation VR, Oculus Rift), TBC (HTC Vive)
Format(s): Playstation VR (Reviewed), HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
Bears seem to be all the rage on Playstation VR at the moment. Whilst I was fortunate enough to write about virtual reality platformer The Lost Bear recently, I’ve now played through Sneaky Bears too – a wave based shooter that sees you taking on a dangerous Stuffed Bear army led by the vindictively evil Frank. Whilst we’re not exactly short of wave based shooters on Playstation VR at the moment though, Sneaky Bears still manages to add something fresh to the genre that makes it worth checking out.
So here’s the score. The aforementioned (and incredibly evil… did I mention that?) Frank has taken over a Stuffed Bear factory and made an army out of all of its inhabitants. Well… except for the Pandas – Frank has cruelly decided they have to die. It’s up to you to protect the Pandas and bring an end to Frank’s nefarious scheme by defeating his army and then taking on the big ma- I mean, ‘Bear’ himself.
The story is incredibly silly but a lot of fun, with Frank actually stealing the show despite following the well-trodden stereotype of a Bond Villain. His menacing ways and constant mean interactions with the player are always entertaining, with him never shying away from putting you down (or showing off his impressions of certain real life ‘villains’).
The main gameplay consists of using two Move Controllers to shoot at the Stuffed Bears from a fixed location in each level. Depending on the game mode you’re playing you’ll have varying weapons, though they all essentially feel the same to use from a control perspective. You reload your weapons by simply grabbing new guns from your harness, which is incredibly wasteful in theory, but doesn’t matter since… well… it’s a video game. Duh. Plus, you can actually throw your empty weapons at your enemies in order to stun them, so you’re not necessarily wasting them anyway.
It’s all incredibly simple in design, but Sneaky Bears has this feeling of precision to it that I really appreciated. The Move Controllers were tracked perfectly, whilst the shooting mechanics themselves felt satisfying. Naturally, the game arms you with Nerf Guns (what do you expect from a game based around shooting Stuffed Bears?), so the bullets shoot at a dipping angle – it means you’ve got to think about where exactly you’re aiming, especially over longer distances. It might seem like a small detail, but it actually added an extra degree of strategy to proceedings. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of shooting games in virtual reality, with Sneaky Bears continuing the trend of offering an entertaining gun-slinging experience.
There are three different game modes you’ll get to play through in total: Survival mode, Fire Mode, and Bomb Mode.
Survival mode offers the most traditional shooting experience, with the player armed with both a shotgun and a handgun (of the Nerf variant, of course) as they take on wave upon wave of enemies. There are plenty of different types of enemies to keep an eye out for too, with some requiring a bit of effort to take down – the large Bears need to have their shields shot away with the shotgun before they become vulnerable, for example.
Fire mode still sees you taking on a ton of Stuffed Bears, but you’ve also got to extinguish the fires that are littered around the environment too. Thankfully, your shotgun is exchanged for a water gun, so you’re well equipped for the job. Fire mode offers something different altogether, with the player not only having to be well aware of what’s going on in the environment but also with the onslaught of Bears coming their way.
Finally, Bomb mode sees you protecting your Bear allies from a barrage of bombs that are coming their way on a conveyer belt. The only way to stop the bombs is by using your new ice gun to freeze them. Again, you’ve also got to watch out for the evil Stuffed Bears that are lingering around, but it still offers a whole new way to play Sneaky Bears.
Each of the game modes have five different levels for you to play through. Complete them all and you’ll face off against Frank in a final epic encounter. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to the game; there are no extras outside of the fifteen levels and the boss fight, with the game easily beatable in around an hour and a half. It would’ve been something if there were online leaderboards or some additional challenges to tackle, but there’s nothing of the sort. With a £15.99 price tag, it can be a little difficult to justify a purchase – especially when similarly priced titles like Until Dawn: Rush of Blood have a lot more to offer. I’m hoping the developers might patch in a few extra features soon, but right now there’s not a whole lot for you to return to once you’ve beaten the game. Still, it doesn’t stop the time you spend with Sneaky Bears being fun though.
Whilst there are certainly better shooters available on Playstation VR right now, there’s an undeniable charm to Sneaky Bears that makes it worth checking out. The varying game modes each offer something different, the toy guns feel precise and are fun to shoot, whilst the devious Frank steals the show with his evil ways and cunning wit.
The only real flaw of Sneaky Bears is found with the short length, which can leave the somewhat hefty price tag feel a little questionable. Still, it doesn’t stop the game from providing a charmingly entertaining experience that’ll provide plenty of fun whilst it lasts.