Welcome to Coverage Club, the regular series where we shift our critical eye towards smaller games that deserve some attention. Each week, our review editors select two titles and provide honest first impressions in the same style as our full reviews. Games can range from brand new titles hitting Early Access to older hidden gems that never got their due. No matter your preferences, you’re sure to find something off the beaten path here. In this week’s episode, we get an animal duo on grand adventures! First up, Coverage Club Guest Star Courtney teams up with a detective teddy bear in Bear With Me. After that, Sam gets back in touch with his feathered side to take a look at Secrets of Rætikon.
Bear With Me
Covered by Courtney Ehrenhofler
Bear With Me by Exordium Games is a three-part episodic point and click adventure series that defies expectations. The plot revolves around Amber, a young girl who joins back up with a private eye teddy bear for one last case. A mysterious entity known only as The Red Man has been terrorizing Paper City and asking about Miss Amber, who’s one of the well-regarded, high-class citizens of the city. Amber and Ted are on a mission to find out who he is, what he’s done with Amber’s missing brother and how they can stop him from burning the city that they love into ashes.
The game is a pastiche and loving ode to the film noir genre and the art almost entirely in black and white, like a classic Sam Spade movie. The Red Man is in color, as are things associated with him, giving an eerily chilling effect. Ted gives wrap-ups in the form of comic pages at certain points in the story. These clean and sophisticated endcaps refresh your memory while you’re playing and slide perfectly into place.
In terms of characters, Ted is the hard-boiled detective and Amber is the enigmatic dame, and together they are an amazing team. The characters they interact with are unique and fun, and most of them are also playing on film noir archetypes. There’s the mafia don, the dame in the diner who’s an old flame, the corrupt mayor, and the helpful incidental characters. The only guy who didn’t really fit a noir archetype was the conspiracy theorist Batman. That was a little odd.
What starts as a cute play on film noir and detective cliches in the first episode expands into a more complex plot in the second, taking on gangsters, voodoo masters and paranoid conspiracy theorists. By the third episode, the game reaches a shocking denouement, both appropriate for the genre and unexpectedly psychological and satisfying for the player. Certainly not for the faint of heart. If you’re looking for a cute little detective game mock-up, look elsewhere.
Overall, Bear With Me has an interesting plot with depth, charming characters, and an interesting visual art style, and it’s a great way to pass the time. The first episode is now free on Steam so if you’re not sure if it’s for you, you can try it out first. For adventure game fans looking for a different kind of mystery or those who love tough-talking teddies, Bear With Me is easy to recommend.
Bear With Me was played on PC via Steam using a copy purchased by the player.
Secrets of Rætikon
Covered by Samuel Guglielmo
In the very first week of Coverage Club, I chose to cover a bird based game with Crow. It feels like that means I have a good enough excuse to cover another bird based game. This time around I went with Secrets of Rætikon, an exploration game where you need to find hidden shards while fighting off other birds.
At the start of the game, you don’t get much in the way of objectives or instructions. You can use a rather peaceful starting area to experiment with the controls. Learn how to fly, pick up objects, and call out to nearby shards to your heart’s content. Your goal is to grab these shards and feed them to giant, mysterious machines, which will then allow you to advance to new locations.
Naturally, the world of Rætikon is not totally safe. You’ll have to find ways to defend yourself. There’s no simple “attack” button or ability. Rather you’ll have to get creative with your simple ability to pick things up and throw them around. Getting harassed by a bird smaller than you? Why not grab the thing and chuck it into a thorn bush. Need to get past a massive bird and don’t have any nearby weapons? Grab a squirrel and throw it as a distraction so you can sneak by it. It’s a really entertaining system that makes for some fun moments.
There’s also a good chunk of puzzles to solve. There are basic physics puzzles, like breaking through a log by rolling a boulder off of a cliff. There are also scenes where I had to reassemble statutes by picking up and reorganizing pieces to match a duplicate. It’s fun to do, and never really felt like a chore.
I also have to mention how absolutely lovely the game is. Secrets of Rætikon has a unique art style that gives everything sharp corners and triangular proportions. This made me enjoy every moment of exploration the world had to offer. A den of weird triangle foxes served as a highlight, but I enjoyed every strange thing I came across. Scattered glyphs teach players the alien language of Rætikon, which allows you to dive into the lore-heavy collectibles.
As far as exploration games go, Secrets of Rætikon does a pretty good job scratching that itch. The world is simply worth exploring. The combat requires creative environmental exploits, and there are neat little puzzles hidden about. This is a game I’d gladly spend more time flying around in.
Secrets of Rætikon was played on PC via Steam using a copy purchased by the player.
What do you think of this week’s Coverage Club selections? Do you know of an overlooked game that deserves another chance? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow our Steam Curator to keep up to date with all our reviews.