Bear and Breakfast is the newest entry into the cozy genre from the folks at Gummy Cat. Bringing the fun idea to run a bed and breakfast, as a bear, in the wilderness was a fun, original, and extremely exciting prospect for many of us in the cozy space! The game will have you cleaning out old, abandoned buildings and sprucing them up with decor and the various things you can build, or trade junk for. Literally, you pick up leftovers as a form of currency to trade to a dumpster managing racoon in order to obtain things like rugs, lighting, and even new recipes for crafting.
Without further ado, let's get into our categories today.
You play as Hank a friendly, goofy, bear who lives with his mom and 2 friends. One is a grumpy pigeon who is all about cash. The other is an over eager go getter doggo. You finally get to leave home to get something for mom, but one thing leads to another and after a "chance" encounter with a literal loan shark the trio finds themselves signing a contract to start a bed and breakfast. Their hopes are to bring humans back to the wilderness, so the wildlife has more access to fresher garbage and trash.
The basic of B&B are going to have you do the following.
How does it compare?
B&B doesn't compare much to games like Stardew or Portia. If I had to compare it to a few games, it'd be Paradise Planner/Happy Home Maker and My Time at Portia. That being said, the designing doesn't hold a candle to PP and the crafting aspect is only slightly similar to Portia. B&B mostly stands on its own with very connections to other titles in the genre.
If you're a fan of character customization, calendar systems with holidays, weekends, friendship affiliation, and marriage B&B doesn't have any of that.
Good and Bad
Let's start with the good. The writing for this game is wonderful! I cannot emphasis this fact enough. The writing team had me laughing within the first 5 minutes. It took no time at all for me to fall in love with Hank and the cast. From clever comments to relatable quips. They did an outstanding job! Same goes for art and sound direction. The sound team did a wonderful job with ambience and the maps really feel like you're off in the Midwest wilderness. Not sure if that was the goal but it definitely gave me Colorado or Minnesota vibes.
Now to the bad. B&B suffers from some of the most difficult controls I've seen in a long time. The inventory is a pain to move around inside. Once you do finally get used to how the building and crafting menu works all the required button pushes just to get from one menu to the next the team throws it entirely out of the window when it comes to the storage system. Everything you just spent the last 5 hours learning isn't useful here as it doesn't apply.
Pair the nightmarish controls with the smallest inventory in the world while also having one of the largest item catalogues for a game, and you're in for a bad time.
I also ran into a few bugs. Twice my game just outright froze. I have no idea why because I really wasn't doing anything aside from walking down the road. Not sure if the switch version suffers from memory leak problems or what..
The game also force closed on me twice. Again, I was just walking around and poof it would force close.
I also ran into an instance where I accidentally opened my map while gathering a resource and the game locked me into the map screen. I couldn't leave the screen no matter what I did. I should point out though, I was unable to reproduce this glitch in my live review, so maybe it was just a one-off occurrence for me.
A major pain point for me, aside from the controls and inventory, is the building. If you start a build, only to discover you didn't bring the needed items, you have to exit the entire build. Which can effectively waste a ton of time if you didn't prepare or preplan. The game does not let you craft on the fly, or easily make items as needed for your build. Even if you do select crafting while in the building window you most scrap the entire thing in order to craft. So please take note of this and plan your builds ahead of time. At least, with what the minimum required items are. The game will not let you simply build empty rooms to be filled later.
And before I move on let's talk about the storage system. Up until now you've been able to press the X button to quick grab 1 item and use it in a room out of your inventory, or quick craft it into your inventory. In the storage screen if you press X, you move EVERYTHING to storage. Press Y and you take it all out. If you want to just store 1 or 2 things, you have to painstakingly move everything one by one. The menus don't even use a memorization marker either, so you are always brought back to the very first square of your inventory. The storage also features "filters" which only show you specific items in that category like food. Now, you might think "oi, no problem I'll just filter and then take all. I'll just keep all my resources." Sadly, that isn't how it works. Filters are only for show. If you try to "take all" with a filter applied the game still takes EVERYTHING. Next you might think "okay, so the game grabs everything in the filter orders shown here." but you'd be wrong. Take everything must pull everything in some item index order, or some other order that you are given no details about. Because you can grab everything but still leave behind food which is the second filter but have grabbed hats. Which is one of the last filters. It's wild how badly designed this storage system is.
I'm a bit disappointed honestly. I'm frustrated at my time with B&B and not for a lack of things to enjoy. As I started this game I had so much fun in the beginning. It made me laugh and smile. The game actually felt fun to decorate with and build rooms. But that fun quickly went away as the game required more and more resources, and more and more items. I fumbled with the controls constantly, even on stream, and became so frustrated with crashes and freezes. Thankfully, the game auto saves often, but it's still a bummer when you're in the middle of something only to lose. I can only imagine how frustrated I'd been if the game crashed while I was mid build.
Most of these problems probably do not exist on the PC version of B&B. Being able to click and drag items would make things 10,000x easier than they are on the switch controller. Honestly, I believe most of these inventory and control issues can be resolved with just a few changes which I'll mention below. But where it stands today, if you need good controls to enjoy a game like this, maybe skip it on switch and snag it on pc instead. The writing, music, and art carried the game a long way for me. Sadly, my small pile of complaints quickly turned into an overwhelming mountain of small complaints.
B&B team if you're reading this review, PLEASE hear my pleas and take the below into consideration and rework your control system.
1. Rework a menu system for this game. Do away with the panel at the bottom. That works fine for PC but not for a console games. You require too many button presses for us to get anywhere. Map the + as the menu button and when pressed bring up the Inventory and character screen. Add quests and other things at the top and we can toggle them with L or R.
2. Button usage. The switch has 12 buttons. Meanwhile B&B utilizes about 6 of them actively. I'm being generous with that number and gave L and R, the zoom buttons, a pass, but I can't imagine these will be constantly by anyone. So, if we take those off, you're utilizing a measly 4 buttons. X for map, Y to start selecting which menus you want, B to cancel, and A to confirm. Use the buttons for other things.
3. Redo the storage buttons. You have 12 buttons to use on the switch, but for some reason refuse to most of them inside the menus or storage. You change X from quick grab to move all and change Y from select a menu to take all. So, so, so, so, frustrating. Consider making ZR move all and ZL take all. Then return X to move single items over regardless of if we are in our inventory or in the storage. Map R and L to change filters or even change select windows between inventory and storage.
4. Make Filters matter. If I filter my storage make sure take all applies to the specific filter.
Fix 3 and 4 and it will be a night and day difference for how frustratingly difficult and bad your current control system design is. You have an amazing team of talented and creative folks at Gummy. I'm not sure why the ball was dropped when it came to controls, or if it was just too much work to make something proper, but it's made the switch experience a nightmare in my opinion.
My next review will be about Hokko Life! An animal crossing inspired life sim for Xbox and Switch!