Are the fine people at Halfbrick rather angry? Their last game, Colossatron, was about destroying humanity as a giant serpentine robot. Bears vs. Art can’t escalate on that concept, but it does try to go for something a bit higher-class: namely, destroying art as a rolling bear. The game’s currently in its soft launch phase, so I put on my monocle for this edition of It Came From Canada!

BearsVsArt-ICFC-7BearsVsArt-ICFC-4Players control a bear who hates art because museums wrecked his home, so he goes to various museums and wrecks up their paintings – and occasionally the snooty patrons there. Makes plenty of sense. This bear prefers to get around by rolling in the cardinal and ordinal directions, perhaps because he’s a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, and he can only roll in a straight line. There are also a number of parameters dictating just how many times the bear can roll in a level, or how much time there is to complete it. Okay, now we have stepped deep into video game logic.

Most levels just feature the bear and the paintings on the wall to destroy, but patrons are a frequent occurence. The patrons behave chaotically, though with certain rules: they always move if the bear gets near them. Thus, this requires an intelligent approach to taking them down; though if time and moves are a factor, this can be rather difficult. This is a system I’d be kind of wary of since it seems like it could be a real energy-drainer, but Halfbrick’s a reputable enough company that I would trust to not use this kind of system against players.

So, the levels become about figuring out the proper sequence to solve the various puzzles. Some paintings require rolling from a specific spot. Being able to roll diagonally really opens up the puzzle design. The introduction of timed levels, and ones where players must try to take out patrons and thieves (or even avoid them!), add even more variety, especially as levels start to blend each type together.

BearsVsArt-ICFC-12BearsVsArt-ICFC-9This game gets a lot of clever details right. For one, it’s legitimately pretty funny – from its rhyming storybook intro, to all the bear-themed art that can be destroyed. There are some art history students who made this game – perhaps disgruntled ones – because of all the parodies of real paintings and pretentiously-named modern art pieces that can be destroyed. Oh, and the destruction occurs by the player slicing up the paintings in a Fruit Ninja-esque way. The dialogue before some levels from the snooty patrons is often quite humorous and at one point self-aware that these museums were built without doors for some reason.

The game is ruled by an energy system, though energy gets refunded for completing a level successfully. There are coins to be earned and costumes with different effects to buy with them, along with extra turns and rage mode. There are permanent turn and time additions, but they come at rather expensive costs: $14.99 each as of the soft launch. The energy bar is lengthy, but later levels start to use more than one unit of energy and it refills very, very slowly. Like “16 hours of waiting didn’t refill it all the way” slow.

Of course, since it’s a soft launch these could all change as time goes on, and it’s quite possible they will. Free-to-play requires some exploration to see what works, and this game feels like it could be enjoyed long-term for free, so paying customers may need to shell out more for the game to be financially viable. Still, time will tell how players will take to it.


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