Skip to main content

Naughty Bear

Nursery crime.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Naughty Bear is a 12, according to PEGI.

In it, you can grill faces, eviscerate with swords, fatally electrocute, detonate with land mines and drive animals insane with fear to the point where they'll commit suicide. Thing is, you're not doing it to people, but bears - and cuddly toy ones rather than actual flesh and blood ursines, so it's presumably OK for 12-year-old kids.

It's not something I want to focus on here, and actually it's not something I'm really sure where I stand on, but it's an interesting point that changing the skins on the models which you torture and murder in games makes such a difference to the perceived emotional impact. If you're in any doubt about that, maybe read a few of the more heated responses to Modern Warfare 2's airport outing.

Naughty Bear is a tremendously violent game. You play as the titular teddy, hell-bent on revenge after he's labelled as the Lindsay Lohan of the bears' island - a dangerous social embarrassment who needs to be kept out of the loop for the good of everybody else. Oh, and eventually hunted down and killed. His revenge takes the form of murder, naturally, earning points as he slaughters his fellow picnickers in new and interesting ways.

Visually, Naughty Bear is actually quite nicely put together, with a cutesy, toybox style.

For example, Naughty can grab a number of melee weapons, from sticks to ninja swords, and set about the island's inhabitants with them, beating them to death by hammering the attack button, or exercising a little more 'subtlety' by sneaking up behind them to break out the weapon's unique finishing move. If you're feeling particularly elaborate you can let them limp away when you're nearly done, allowing the other bears to see what happens to your enemies and gradually raising their levels of terror and paranoia.

You can also destroy or sabotage items such as barbecues or power supplies for extra points, smashing them for a bigger short-term gain or disabling them so you lie in wait for a hapless bear to come and fix them. When they're busy doing so, you can sneak out of the woods, where Naughty is inexplicably completely invisible to anyone but ninja bears, and perform either a contextual kill using the object they're fixing or scaring them with a boo, which will up their tension levels until they finally reach breaking point and commit suicide.

Bears can also escape the island using a boat or a car (unless you destroy them), or use one of the island's phones to call the cops. Let either of these things happen and back-up will soon arrive, upping the risk but also increasing the potential for point-scoring - cops are viable targets for terror and eventual 'defluffification', too.

Repeating the same attacks or scare tactics will see them lose effect, ironically.

More suffering equals more score, with a multiplier building alongside the carnage and gradually ticking down over time. For example, all of the bears on a level can be wiped out pretty quickly by setting a few mantraps on paths, waiting for targets to stumble into them and finishing them off with a one-hit kill: efficient, but not particularly stylish. If you want the big points then you'll need to toy with your victims for a while, using scares, destruction and other bears to unravel their tiny, fluffy minds and force them into suicide. Sadism, it turns out, returns more than just its own reward.

When a level's objectives are completed or Naughty fails irrevocably, the score is banked (albeit with a 70 per cent penalty for failure), counting towards a grand total which unlocks various costumes, achievements, episodes and levels. Costumes and hats affect Naughty's stats, or give him a starting weapon or special ability, like blending in with the otherwise instantly hostile bears. New levels open up new parts of bear island to explore and frolic dangerously in.