Note: The Bear’s Black Heart Download Links are posted at the bottom of the page.
A Nihilist’s Winter Journey With “The Bear’s Black Heart”
If a heart grows cold in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it even matter? That seems to be the existential question of Bear’s Black Heart Download developed by Abban Dunne.
This game, made in less than two weeks for Wizard Jam 2016, has the basic feel of a flash game. The player controls the Bear, who is composed of a bear head, arms, legs and bottom with the torso of a cartoon heart preserved in a jar of pink formaldehyde.
The bear, for no given reason save speculation from a hiker who theorizes about Bear’s excessive caffeine use, cannot hibernate and must survive the winter by eating what food is available on the forest floor. This consists of abandoned cans of fish, picnic baskets, apples and squirrels.
His hunger is measured by a stomach meter, which runs down a different speeds depending on status effects he acquires through interactions with NPCs over the 15 weeks of winter.
Gameplay | Blackening The Bear’s Heart
The crux of the game’s appeal is in the heart meter next to the stomach, which is red but blackens as the Bear commits different terrible acts.
Eating squirrels will blacken the heart, as well as eating the people and monsters you encounter as you wander the randomly generated forest. However, you are given other options when a stranger is encountered and thus the opportunity to do good.
It is even proposed to the Bear, at the beginning of the game by the hiker previously mentioned, that the point of the game is to avoid blackening the bear’s heart. This advice will lead the player into endless frustration, for there is no method of judging the morality of any decision.
Help a mushroom move towards a tree and corrupt the bear’s heart.
Attempt to fix a rabbit’s berry basket and the bear’s heart blackens!
In this universe of moral randomness, the blackness of the bear’s heart also prevents him from engaging with the NPCs in ethically responsible ways.
Eventually, he is left with no option but to eat those he encounters lest he perish in the forest before spring saves his soul.
Final Thoughts On The Game
Well this particular reviewer has a bit of a perfectionist streak in him and I set about trying to win the game with a perfect heart.
I memorized as many of the ridiculous random conversations so I knew whom to avoid and how to interact with those left. I knew to sing to David Bowie’s Ghost, but never follow him into space.
I rigidly held to my moral code until I was in the 13th week and there were no more positive interactions available. Doing the best I could, I made it to the finish with minimal corruption and the result was nothing special. The game doesn’t bequeath the player any special ending for a moral victory.
The one aspect that makes the game interesting, the heart meter, is completely irrelevant.
It’s ultimately a frustrating and unfulfilling game. The only redeemable quality is the low-key indie psych-drone soundtrack by Broke For Free.
The great thing about playing games is that everybody likes different things. So Give The Bear’s Black Heart Download a play and let me know what you thought about it in the comment section.
The Bear’s Black Heart Download Links | Simply Install and Play.
Bear’s Black Heart Free Download [Windows]
If you found this page helpful, please share it with your friends.