Sneaky Bears VR preview review: shoot teddy bears in VR!

Today I’ve been able to play in preview the Oculus Rift version of Sneaky Bears VR, a wave shooter game in first person where you have to kill nasty teddy bears!

The game is developed by indie game studio WarDucks, that is very ambitious on virtual reality. They released the Gear VR version of the game a long time ago and due to its success, they decided to make a more immersive porting for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PSVR. The game is being released for PSVR today in the US (and on August, 31st in Europe… why are we always late?) for the price of $19.99. Oculus Rift version will be out today too, while HTC Vive one is to be released soon. I’ve been able to try the Oculus one in preview and I’m very excited about it! So here you are my impressions…

The game is nice: when you start it, a very quick tutorial instructs you of how you should play the game. Actually, there are only two buttons to press, so these instructions were pretty simple: you have guns attached to your belt and you can take them with your Touch middle trigger. Then you use your index trigger to shoot. When you’re out of ammo, just throw the guns away and take new ones. That’s it. If you’re thinking “This is exactly like Robo Recall“, yes, you’re right. I liked this idea, because:

  • It’s damn simple
  • It’s effective
  • Being the control scheme of another game, I was already good at using it.
Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
The two guns in my hands! Notice that you have to shoot the START element to actually start the game. Every UI element in this game is immersive (Image by Warducks)

As the game actually started, I found myself inside a factory, with a control panel in front of me and a panda talking with me. Apparently, the panda was my assistant: I always loved pandas, but I never thought of hiring one as an assistant… bamboo to feed them is too expensive. He started guiding me on how to use the game and suggested to run the training session to practice my shooting ability. The control panel in front of me was actually the main menu of the game: there were switches to change options and some big buttons to start the various levels… and among them, there was one to launch the training. You know that I love immersive interfaces since they make you completely live inside the virtual experience without breaking the magic. A standard flat menu ruins the presence immediately, while this kind of immersive menus makes it last. And in this game, every UI element is the most immersive possible. When you select the game type you want to play, you have to actually shoot at the level number to start it. That’s great.

Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
Part of the control panel in front of the player: it is the main menu, but it is also part of the environment… very cool!

Before launching any level, on the screen you will see the evil boss of the game: he’s a teddy bear with only one eye that wants to kill all the pandas and eventually rule the world. His name is Frank and you’ll hear from him in every level of the game: there’s always a screen where he comes out and says some hilarious and sarcastic speech during the play time. He’s created an army of evil teddy bears and you have to stop them.

To stop this world teddy invasion you have to play all 15 levels + the final boss one. Levels are 5 for each game type, that are:

  • Survival: you have to shoot to all bears that you see and try to survive to all enemies waves. Your weapons are a shotgun in the left hand and a gun in the right hand;
  • Fire: you have to shoot all the bears and in the meantime extinguish all the things that they put on fire. You have a water gun in the left hand and a gun in the right hand;
  • Bomb: you have to shoot all the bears and in the meantime defuse all the bombs that Frank will send you by freezing them. You have a freezing gun in the left hand and a gun in the right hand.

In my opinion, Survival is the easiest mode, while Bomb is the hardest. The difficulty of the last two modes is that you have to take care of killing the bears with one hand while doing other tasks with the other one and this makes the brain to explode. It’s hard and this makes the game more entertaining.

Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
This is a FIRE level: you have to shoot bears while you extinguish those barrels on fire (Image by Warducks)

The more you go on, the more the levels will become complicated. New types of enemies with new weapons will come out, the waves become longer, etc… In the end, the game is far from easy to be won.

The graphic is cartoon-like and very well made: characters and environments are very well modeled and also very variated. All the game follows an ironical toy-style. So, when I say “gun” and “kill”, I’m not talking about a real gun that makes the enemies to bleed (as far as I know, teddy bears don’t even have blood!), but about toy guns that make the bears to faint; when the bombs explode and the enemies win, you just hear a bomb sound and then everything becomes black and white. It’s a game that everyone can play, it is not Kill Bill 😀

Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
BOMB level: bombs arrive on that conveyor belt and you have to defuse them. From here you can also notice how both the weapons of yours and of the bears are funny toys (Image by Warducks)

Another thing that I appreciated a lot is that while the game loads a new level, it shows you some advice about how to play. This continuous tutorial helps in learning faster the game mechanics.

So, the game has good graphics, it’s easy to be played and gives also fun. But it also has some bad sides:

  • The genre “wave shooter” is a bit overused in VR. The gameplay is not that original;
  • In the long run, the game appears repetitive: there are new types of enemies every time, but I continued having the impression of repeating always the same tasks;
  • There are no weapons upgrades: you use always the same weapons, that never gets upgraded. This surely doesn’t help in making the game seem more variated;
  • It is quite static: with Robo Recall I’m used to crawl, to lean, to dodge, while here I was fixed in a point and shot;
  • The game is not that long;
Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
This teddy bear is pretty difficult to be killed, you’ll have to use the shotgun (Image by Warducks)

In the end, I anyway liked it, I think it is a nice indie game. I particularly liked the graphical style and all the toy-theme of the game. I found difficulty pretty well calibrated: not too easy and not too hard. Sometimes I’ve lost, but it also motivated me to play again to win the challenge against the evil Frank. The thing that I loved the most is the fact that in this game you have to do different tasks with the two hands and this is something that is very very difficult for the brain (if you have ever read about bimanual interfaces, you know what I’m talking about) so it is very challenging. The thing that I instead stand the least in the whole game has been the little variation of action during the gaming path. I would have preferred some new game modes or at least some new weapons to try. Anyway, I had fun while playing it and this is the most important thing in a game, isn’t it?

Sneaky Bears VR Oculus review
The evil frank is coming to rule the world… we have to stop him (Image by Warducks)

Hope you liked this review… now let’s go all to Sneaky Bears VR website and let’s start killing teddy bears!

UPDATE: the game is being released on October, 12th 2017. Molly from Warducks told me that they’ve listened to all our feedbacks and fixed a lot of things inside the game. Furthermore, the game now features two difficulty levels and global leaderboards! Cool! Here you are the launch trailer:

(Header image by Warducks)

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AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I've still not waken up...