Grr! Bearly Sane review
While people play adventure games for many reasons, a common top priority is a creative storyline. Some games may tread water and rehash the same “find the missing shiny object” plot over and over again, but Grr! Bearly Sane dares to take its storyline in a direction as yet untouched by game designers: a murderous rampage conducted by a man in a bear suit.
Sadistic? Yes. Depraved? Probably, but don’t let these reasons put you off playing this well-rounded AGS game made by David “Duzz” Lloyd. The game is very short and most experienced players will finish it in an hour or less, but it wastes no time before the plot is put into action and you’ll be hooked from the very beginning.
The game opens with a short cutscene that shows how Dan (our carnival hero, of sorts, in the bear costume) is clobbered by a little brat in a beanie, and is then docked his pay for verbally abusing the punk. Dan is fed up with the job anyway, but his rent is due and he’ll lose his apartment without the check. These injustices push Dan over the edge, and his condition soon becomes a classic case of “Hulk mad, Hulk smash.”
This is where you come in. You control Dan as he sets out to exact vengeance on those who have wronged him. This mainly consists of finding and mutilating the characters from the introduction. Although this is a very violent premise, the cartoon graphics, bear costume and carnival music all do their part in making the game darkly comic as opposed to darkly disturbed. All of the violence in the game is presented humorously and is too unrealistic to be offensive to most people.
Bearly Sane has an added feature that contributes to the puzzle solving: the anger meter. This meter at the top of the screen keeps track of the anger that is fueling Dan’s bloodlust, and he will not be able to complete some actions if he is not angry enough. Some events, such as being insulted, will cause Dan’s anger to rise, enabling him to do things that a level-headed person might not do. Dan’s anger will then decrease after he performs a stress-relieving action. This is a great concept which gives Grr! the opportunity for some unique puzzles. The only problem with the anger bar is that I sometimes found myself repeating the same actions to raise Dan’s anger. Besides that minor complaint, the anger bar is a great feature that helps Grr! stand out from the rest of the crowd. Other puzzles in the game are a nice mix of inventory puzzles that are fun without being too hard for most gamers. There is also a mini-game that puts you at the helm of a crane-game where you have to grab a prize with the claw, but don’t worry, because it’s much easier than the games are in real life.
Duzz has converted the AGS standard icon bar to a pop-up verb interface a la The Curse of Monkey Island. The use of such an interface is always welcome because it speeds up the gameplay and is easier to use. The interface worked seamlessly for me except for a minor graphics glitch in the inventory that caused the blurring of an item, but this did not affect the functionality. One weak area is the many spelling mistakes throughout the game, both in the text dialogue and in item descriptions. While this didn’t bother me that much, some grammar diehards could be put off by this aspect of the game.
The graphics in Grr are all very well done. Each screen is fairly detailed in a cartoon style and always fun to look at. I never got sick of watching the fuzzy little bear trudge back and forth across the screen, and the surprising amount of other animations is another strong point of the game. Due to the time-consuming nature of animations, they are frequently left out of freeware games, but the inclusion of such things as targets moving across a shooting range and a dog’s tongue moving back and forth help bring the game to life. The background carnival music and the sound effects all suited the game very nicely and I had no complaints in this area.
As you may have guessed, I enjoyed this game and think most other people will too. It can be downloaded at Duzz’s homepage or from a mirror at the AGS site, and comes as a self-extracting installer. The game is very solid with only a few minor problems and if you don’t object to the subject matter, then Grr! Bearly Sane is deserving of an hour of your time.