Platform: Steam (Early Access)
Release date: Now
This game is laying some uncalled for shade you guys. I can drift hard!
Run the game and you’re given one very simple prompt. Hit the A button. There’s no menu screen, no option for adjustments. In a way I suppose it’s freeing, there’s nothing you need to do, you can assume that whatever the settings are will be perfect and given the presentation and premise of this game, I suppose what changes would you even need to make. Though some people are a bit pickier and like to check that out. But once you hit A, the race begins. Straight of the bat! You’re a bear in a kart!
As a Bear in a Kart you’re objective is to come in 1st place against other, pretty identical bears in karts. You don’t get to select a character or a vehicle. When I said that you just right into a race, I meant it. After each race you end up in a sort of hub world, you can drive around. There’s an A button continuously hovering over your head, but you’re not entirely sure what it means or what it does. You can initiate other races by going through portals that show a little wavy image of what the track looks like. The portals have numbers but there’s no indication what those numbers refer too, maybe it just means the track number. There’s no tutorial and no obvious penalty for not coming in the top 3 positions for every race.
One particular portal track I chose would have benefited from some text based instructions as it took me a moment to realise it wasn’t a race but a sort of fluffy manic battle royale where there was a limited track. Your aim was to take out the other racers with your weapons.
Game play mechanics are very simple and let a newbie or a veteran join in and easily traverse the tracks. As for the weapons, they vary from picking up a derpy happy fish, which is a bazooka that fires out multiple derby happy explosive fish, there’s a bee which lays down a hives nest, a cute hedgehog that doesn’t seem to know it’s being swept up of a road to cause carnage, which causes what seems to be a sort of kart defense barrier. But you move so fast, as does everyone that I never got a chance to verify that. A handy trick is to use the B button to side dash as you’re driving, this is handy when going around corners and trying to avoid obstacles.
Visuals are extremely vibrant, but I suppose in a kart racing game, it would be criminal to turn the design macabre world, especially with cuddly bears. There’s a pleasant innocence to the world you’re racing through, but it’s hard to appreciate it at times due to how manic things are with the speed and any carnage from weapons. There’s a particular track, where the aim is not clear in the slightest (as there’s no narration at all in this game). Some sort of explanation would be nice, such as what the differently styled bear faces that pop up in some areas mean.
There are cameras, reminiscent of Glados all around the forest/cliff side and no reason is given for this, perhaps the poor bear is a prisoner and the whole karting tournament is one big evil experiment. Now I feel a bit glum.
The music is charming but at random times, such as when you may get hit by another racers attack, the music will suddenly die along with you. Just kidding, there’s no death to cuddly bears in this game, I think that would be a trigger for me. But like other cart based racing games, you can be taken out and when this happens the music is taken out as well. It’s as if you’re being punished for not being a better kart racer through utter silence. But later it seemed that the music would just stop in general.
Local multiplayer is activated in what must be the easiest way ever, simply pause or ‘paws’ the screen and boop down to the bear icons and pick between 2-4 players and you’re instantaneously in a split screen. But I don’t see any non local MP version and I don’t have 3 bear friends living with me to race against. I am a lonely Glowbear.
In conclusion, this game is no doubt enjoyable and it is oddly refreshing to be able to jump quickly into each method of game-play. Though I’m not entirely sure if that is more a testament to another feeling this game gives and that is that it isn’t fully complete yet. On Steam it is released, therefore no longer in pre-sale testing status, yet it undeniably has some issues, such as glitching and some hard-crashing moments. The glitching is as seamless as the race starting but it should not occur as often as it does regardless. There’s no variety in characters and vehicles, a customisation option is needed in a game like this, as most kart based games offer that. One in multiplayer screens do I see coloured bears. For a first game though, this is a nice job and there is a lot of potential. If some narration and tightness was added to some mechanical elements and variety to player select, this would be a recommended buy if you want a fun simple go-karting racing game, that you can play with your friends.
Bears Can’t Drift, for a first game by developer Arran Langmead, is a nice job and there is a lot of potential. If some narration and tightness was added to some mechanical elements and variety to player select, this would be a recommended buy if you want a fun simple go-karting racing game, that you can play with your friends. It would also work well as an arcade game or a party Kart game much like the Italian moustachios that can’t actually do any plumbing.