Bear and Breakfast | Nintendo Switch Review
There is an array of island/forest/farm style management simulators available on the market currently, mainly involving humans as the managers. However, with the introduction of Bear and Breakfast - a Gummy Cat creation published by Armor Games Studios - the opportunity lands in the hands (or paws) of the animals to create a hospitable environment to welcome back tourists to the area after a long absence. I was eagerly looking forward to sinking my teeth into this game ever since I saw the initial trailer for Windows PC and was more than happy to hear about the introduction of this game to the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, playing through the game on the Switch left me somewhat disappointed and frustrated - ironic, considering how much this game is being applauded on PC for its calm and relaxing qualities.
Bear and Breakfast focuses on this adorable bear, Hank, who lives with his mother, Margaret, a Poorwill called Will, and Anni, a Karelian dog. One day while on an errand for Hank’s mother, they hear a noise and venture further than where they are supposed to roam. They stumble across an almost deserted Timber Crossing and meet a mechanical shark by the name of Fin, who works on behalf of the Pawn Voyage corporation, tasked with renovating run-down buildings to create a tourist hotspot for humans. This introduces Hank to hospitality management, while trying to locate a few locals who can help with the renovations.
Progression in the game is quite straightforward as you are assigned quests from the shark and other characters. You begin with a simple renovation requiring building and decorating some bedrooms. As you progress, you will be required to create bathrooms, entertainment rooms, kitchens, dining rooms and boiler rooms. It is easy to salvage items all around each location, with the added option to purchase items from a garbage skip using valuables as currency. You also receive coins from guests staying at your accommodation, so you can purchase items from locals or in shops. Hank begins to turn from immature bear to manager extraordinaire, turning run down premises into mini hotels, and later B&Bs in multiple locations. There even is an opportunity later in the game to have staff working on Hank’s behalf, although they are not as diligent as the loveable bear. The breakfast part of the title comes a lot later into play, after you learn recipes, unlock items to build a kitchen, and source the ingredients required.
There are plenty of positives about this game. I have mentioned on a few occasions now that Hank is a very adorable and loveable bear, and it is impossible not to feel motivated to help him succeed. You can also complete quests to get valuables to dress your bear. The supporting characters provide a certain interest and humour to the game, although some dialogues are a tad long and complicated considering the PEGI rating of 3+. The visuals are very cute and perfectly suited to the Nintendo Switch, and the more locations unlocked, the more the visuals and scenery simply pop. The music is also well-suited and becomes worthwhile the more locations you unlock. Patience and dedication are required with the pacing of the game as well as a few other issues which will be mentioned later, but the game gets in its groove as you unlock a number of locations.
This sounds like a delightful game, so why the frustration, you ask? This game generally screams everything Switch – its appearance is cute and fun, the premise fits well into the management simulator genre while not simply being a carbon copy of everything which has already been released, yet the developer team seem to have fallen into that make-or-break console trap – controls. It took me a very long time to get used to the control system on the Switch, and it seems they could have taken a leaf out of Animal Crossing’s book, when releasing this game on console. Even simply having a mouse pointer visible would have ruled out a lot of time-wasting, like in Stardew Valley. The tutorial phase of the game is not incredibly user-friendly, and even accessing the menu, which pops up at stages, required several button-presses, which should not be the case. A simple recommendation would have the menu accessible automatically without having to navigate towards the menu once it popped up. At one point it felt like guess work picking the correct buttons while trying to craft items and build rooms. Often, I found myself exiting the building process or inventory menu and finding myself back at the workbench.
Coupled with the less than user-friendly controls, comes the equally difficult interface. The only possibility to forward time is through sleeping in the night with the appearance of the crescent moon. There is no clear indication of what time it is until much later in the game, and at the beginning in particular, the inability to forward time leaves you with very little to do, especially for quests which provide rewards once a certain period of time elapses. With the storage menus, there is no obvious indication of the storage amount available, so if you are a hoarder like I am, there is no indication that you are nearly at the limit until you reach it and cannot select items anymore. This became apparent when crafting level 2 items for a bedroom and being confused when one of the items crafted did not appear, only to be visible at the workbench once you exit the menu. Clearer indicators are also required that you do not have all the materials for crafting certain items, such as maybe marking items with insufficient materials in red. There is also an inability to sell items for some profit or even for valuables, meaning once you upgrade items, the items which are replaced are of no further use.
Finally, there is quite a bit of lagging when the game autosaves, which is a function which cannot be turned off. Generally speaking, it is not much of a disturbance, but the game crashed on me on one occasion, so it was lucky that the game did autosave. There has been a patch released for the Nintendo Switch on the 5th October which has hopefully resolved this issue.
I really wanted to rave about Bear and Breakfast as the game is enjoyable, but at its current state on the Switch, this is preventing me from doing so, mainly due to the controls and interface, and the pacing of the game in the beginning. My advice would be that if you wish to go ahead with the game on the Switch, it is imperative to have some patience - it is a severe slog at the beginning trying to get used to controls. Perseverance pays off, and once you get used to the awkward controls and interface, the game becomes far more enjoyable as you progress.
Tina’s Rating: 3.5 Bacon & Eggs out of 5.
For more information on Bear and Breakfast please use the following links...
Many thanks to Game If You Are for the Review Key.