Lowkey and fairly unassuming, The Lost Bear doesn’t seem like the kind of game that needed to be launched as a PlayStation VR exclusive. At no point does it have you waving around a pair of motion controllers, picking up and interacting with various objects, and yet Oddbug Studio has opened my eyes to a new of seeing games in virtual reality.
Clearly inspired by Playdead, Limbo, and last year’s Inside, The Lost Bear is a simple take on the 2D platformer, using environmental puzzle solving as opposed to an intricate web of mechanics, and it works. As short as the game is – taking no more than a couple of hours to beat – it takes players on an adventure, marking a strong first outing for Oddbug.
There’s not really any dialogue here and no attempt to spin The Lost Bear into a story-heavy game. You play as Walnut, a young girl who ventures into the forest and loses her toy bear. Snatched by some kind of spider-like creature, she ends up straying from the beaten path. The sky darkens as an ominous fog rolls in, concealing a wasteland made almost entirely from scrap metal and junk. At the same time, Walnut continues to glimpse something in the shadows. A hulking creature that, from time to time, will help her.
The entirety of the game is spent traversing the environment, jumping between platforms, pulling levers, and interacting with other objects in the world. Instead of simply pressing a button on the DualShock 4, some of these levers and switches will use motion controls to have you docking your virtual gamepad on a platform, twisting, turning, and pulling to open doors or operate devices. It’s a small but neat touch, adding a surprising degree of immersion.
Although The Lost Bear could definitely work as a non-VR game, the way Oddbug justifies adopting the technology is sound. The game places you in your own personal theatre, watching the game unfold like a private puppet show. As you explore certain areas and perform certain actions, this area surrounding centre stage will change. Fog will trail across the floor, leaves blowing in front of you.
It’s not mindblowing, but could be a technique used by other studios looking to enhance their games in VR. Imagine playing something like an Uncharted or WipeOut as you normally would, but in a space that can change and adapt to the on-screen action. It’s a clever approach, bridging that gap between video games and 3D cinema or theatre.
The Lost Bear isn’t necessarily what you’d call a killer app for PlayStation VR. It doesn’t have that same immediate impact games like Batman VR, Farpoint, or Arizona Sunshine demonstrate so well. Over time, however, that brand of first person virtual reality has become more and more familiar and I find myself looking for games that attempt to use the technology in new ways, which is what you get from The Lost Bear.
Version Tested: PlayStation 4 Pro