Bears in Space

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Bears in Space review
William Thompson


Exterminate, exterminate

Bears and honey

What the hell are bears doing in space? Who knows? But the team at Broadside Games decided it would be an interesting premise for an action shooter, and as such, Bears in Space was born. The game has players taking control of Maxwell Atoms, a spacetronaut turned extra-terrestrial castaway and after a scientific mission goes wrong, his DNA merged with that of a female bear known as Beartana. Hilarity ensues.

Many games might use this mutation as the main mechanic within the game and although there are times when Beartana's strength is used, the game underutilises this ability and sticks mostly to a fast-paced shooter. Indeed, Bears in Space is a conglomeration of different shooting games and movie tropes - from the original Doom to Borderlands to movie classics Mars Attacks and Doctor Who, all of which work well together to produce an exciting game.

When players do get to use the melee ability of Beartana, the game is a heap of fun. This is further accentuated when Beartana gobbles up a pot of honey and becomes somewhat super-powered. Unfortunately, we don't see enough of this, and the game plays out more like a typical old-school shooter. Players work their ways through the levels and will gradually procure more powerful weapons.

Exterminate, exterminate

Players will need to utilise all these weapons, as they will be confronted with increasingly tougher enemies and must survive to reach their destination – Earth. Initially there are pawn style robots that can be defeated with two shots from the pistol, but this soon ramps up to Rambo-looking robots that shoot at a rapid pace and rocket launching enemies that require multiple hits from the more powerful weapons. Each of the enemy robot types are easy to discern with their colouring, and as a result it is easier to plan a strategy, Not that there is much of a strategy involved in Bears in Space, as the open world nature of the locations ensures that there is little coverage available and you will spend most of the time (particularly as you progress further into the game) shooting at anything that moves just to survive the mayhem.

As players journey through each level, there is generally enough ammo and health packs scattered around to keep their weapons loaded. Vendors are also located at various locations throughout the levels where players can purchase ammo, health and even upgrades to their weapons - at a cost. But despite all the weaponry and health packs, dying will be inevitable. Thankfully there are numerous save points scattered throughout the levels - depicted by a cool robot lounging on a sofa. As well as this, there are other automatic save points which mean that players will not need to replay huge tracts of the game when they get mowed down by a boss or a horde of robots. As a result, the inevitable deaths aren't nearly as frustrating as they could be otherwise.

Bears in Space is largely a linear affair, but many of the levels will give players secondary areas in which to explore. These alternative paths will still have players reaching the same locations had they stayed on the main path, but will often enable players to pick up extra collectibles, more money, or upgrades for their weapons. Of course, these alternative paths will often be a tad more difficult - and even more hectic than the main pathway. But the extra coins collected and weapons upgrades can certainly help when it comes to defeating the level bosses.

A brief respite

During their playthrough, players will have access to a touch of respite from the mayhem via a series of mini-games including versions of basketball, whack-a-mole and Fruit Ninja. Each of these mini-games has a zany take on each game they're representing, which runs with the overall humour of the main game. Indeed, Bears in Space is full of pop-culture references, many of which had me chuckling as they appeared or were mentioned in the dialogue. The fully voiced dialogue can be a bit hit and miss however, mainly due to the Aussie accents of the main characters. Although as an Aussie myself, I understood all the jokes and dialogue, but others may not due to the accents. Luckily, all the dialogue appears in written form, so players can read along if they're having trouble with the accents.

A fun space shooter

The fact that players don't get to use Beartana's strength more is disappointing. In a way, the game feels like the developers were going for this feature to be the main mechanic and then switched ideas somewhere during development. That said, the shooter mechanics are smooth and combined with the light-hearted nature of the game and the dialogue, ensures that Bears in Space is a fun game to play. The gameplay is hectic, the boss battles are challenging, and the mini-games are enjoyable and allow for some respite in an enjoyable game that pokes fun at itself and other games of the genre.

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fun score


Enjoyable level design and enemy types. Fun boss battles.


Not enough use of the bear mutation mechanic.