Strutting around with no clothes on would make most people run away in fear. No, it’s not because you’re butt-naked, but because you’re a big grizzly bear named Hank. That’s part and parcel of Bear and Breakfast, it’s built right into the name. Don’t worry, though, as your guests will happily greet you if you’re wearing just a couple of pieces of clothing, as this is apparently enough for you to be mistaken for a human simply going about your usual business.
The fact you’re a bear is something humans — and even you — seem to forget while playing Bear and Breakfast. After all, you’re a bear running various establishments to get tourists flocking back to the area. It’s not exactly typical bear behaviour. You meet a mixture of memorable human and anthropomorphic animal characters on your adventure, most of which will help you create your hospitality empire. While you can converse with the animals just fine, dialogue options with humans result in you making bear noises, though they seem to understand you without much trouble. If only real animals were this easy to talk to, although I’m not sure I’d want them running the local hotel.
You start off slow and humble, with a rundown shack to decorate and rent out to any humans daft enough to pay money to stay there. Furnishings and decorations are basic, while amenities are fairly non-existent. Everybody’s got to start somewhere, right? As the game progresses, you’ll unlock new areas that give you fancier digs, additional room types, and better items and furnishings.
You’ll spend most of your time fulfilling various objectives for Fin, the Pawn Voyage ambassador helping you with your fledgling business, as well as completing quests for different characters you meet along the way. This can feel like slow progress when you only have the first couple of venues. Once your little shack or motel is set up, and you’ve taken on guests for each room, you’re left waiting for them to go so you can fulfill requirements and move on to the next task.
While you can roam around and collect crafting ingredients to kill some time, there’s only a finite number of resources available per day, so you’re mainly left twiddling your thumbs at this point. You’ll no doubt be wishing there was a way to fast-forward time while desperately waiting for the ‘Sleep’ button to become available come nightfall.
Thankfully, it doesn’t stay that way for long. As you open up more areas, which means more vacation homes to run, more ingredients to gather, and new mechanics and quests, you’ll almost miss the downtime from the game’s early hours. As you jump between your different businesses, ensuring guests are coming and going and cleaning up, it feels like you’re spinning plates. New types of rooms add more responsibilities, so you’ll have to cook food to keep guests fed in dining rooms, ensure your utility rooms stay stocked with fuel to keep everyone nice and toasty, and of course, go rummaging through the woods to get all the items required to make any of this possible.
It’s a tough job for a bear to do all alone. Fortunately, going out of your way to help some others will unlock new items so you can hire staff to help keep your resorts running smoothly. There’s plenty of reason to return to older lodgings and give them overhauls too. Once Fin has moved onto the next area, you can continue completing objectives for Pawn Voyage at each location. Doing so earns you handy rewards, such as collectibles that grant increased storage or the ability to manage your businesses from afar.
Completing these additional objectives increases the expectations of the guests staying in each area and the amount of money they’ll pay. It’s lucky then that the new and improved furnishings you unlock will help you to give those old joints a much-needed makeover. Happy guests mean better reviews, and it’s your reputation on the line here.
Each area has various monuments and buildings you can restore to attract more visitors, though it felt like this feature could have been expanded upon. For example, you can fix up the diner in A22, and while visitors will mill in and out, you can’t really interact or do anything with it. You can’t customise it or use the facilities yourself, which feels like a waste.
My journey to becoming a master hotelier didn’t come without a couple of snags, quite literally in some cases. I got stuck on some of the foliage in one area, and it didn’t matter how or where I tried to move, I could not unstick my poor boy Hank from his surroundings. The game auto-saved while trying to detangle my way out of the bushes, meaning I had a save file locked to a bear stuck in the woods and had to start over from the beginning. It needs a patch or two.
Bear and Breakfast is an in-depth management sim that is all too easy to enjoy for hours on end. There’s plenty of quirky humour alongside an unfolding story filled with mysterious undertones, gorgeous 2D graphics, and classic genre goodness.
Score: 4/5. A review code for PC was provided by the publisher.
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