YOU wouldn’t typically associate the word cozy with a brown bear, but it’s 2022 and Bear and Breakfast is here to shake things up a bit.
In it’s simplest form, Bear and Breakfast is a management simulator with RPG elements, where the player controls an incredibly cute brown bear named Hank, who’s life quickly transitions from the simplistic responsibilities of a woodland animal to the complexities of managing a successful property tycoon. It’s an incredibly unique take on the management-simulator formula, primarily due to it’s emphasis on narrative game mechanics.
Throughout your playthrough, you’ll be introduced to a wide array of friends in the form of woodland creatures who will assist you in multiple ways to further grow your B&B empire.
From its onset, Bear and Breakfast very clearly tries to distinguish itself from its’ counterparts. Rather than immediately being thrown into a blank canvas to start building from the ground up, we’re introduced to the story of Hank the insomniac bear and his family/friends.
From here, quests are introduced which makes up a large portion of the remainder of the game, as new quests appear whenever a new game element is ready to be introduced. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this mechanic, it just at times feels like a simple tool-tip or pop-up dialogue could’ve done the job a lot quicker.
The nostalgic classic cartoon style of Bear and Breakfast was without a doubt my favourite part of the game (and arguably the selling point). The UI is cleanly designed, and easy to understand and use, the character design of the entire cast of characters is superb and the overall sound design complimented this all tremendously.
I can’t remember the last time I spent so long trying on every outfit I unlocked in a game, but the cute-factor of dressing Hank in human clothing is something you really need to experience. On top of this, laying out the interior of your B&B’s is just as satisfying with plenty of variance, as each location has different room or accessory requirements dependent on the guests visiting at any given time (although there doesn’t seem to be much of a consequence for your guests being unsatisfied with their stay). Everything visual completely matches the cute and cozy theme the game wants to present – I just wish the simulation side of things matched this.
Although the intention was clearly to take a much more laid-back and casual approach to the genre of management sims’, Bear and Breakfast unfortunately falls a tad short when it comes to combining of all of its various game elements.
My primary complaint falls entirely on game-progression being so quest-dependent, rather than giving you a sandbox environment to play around with and learn as you go. It’d be understandable if the first few game elements were setup like this to ease players in to everything, but instead it’s a constant requirement that really slows down the overall pace of the game as you’re constantly waiting for a new quest to unlock the ability to do something new (for a game focused on bed & breakfast, you don’t unlock the ability to cook until over halfway into the game).
It just feels like a few too many opportunities were missed, as a lot of my time with the game was just spent waiting for either a quest to prompt, or a visitor to complete their stay.
All in all, Bear and Breakfast is a truly unique management simulator with a memorable cast of characters. I’ll admit for me personally, the gameplay got a little bit dry for my taste after getting through the bulk of the content, but purely aesthetically, there’s something innately entertaining about roleplaying as a fully clothed bear who manages a chain of old B&Bs.
It’s currently available on Steam and the Nintendo store, so console players will have to bear with the developers as they work on a port (I’m sorry, I just had to).