Naughty Bear returns with the downloadable sequel to teddy bear mayhem in Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise. The original Naughty Bear was poorly received, chastised for its repetitive gameplay and less than perfect controls. Can Panic in Paradise redeem the franchise and establish itself as a solid franchise?
Developer: Behaviour Interactive Inc.
Publisher: 505 Games
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade (Reviewed), PlayStation Network
Genre: Crude-Humour, Action
Release: Xbox LIVE Arcade: (INT) October 10th 2012, PlayStation Network: (INT) October 9th 2012
Panic in Paradise begins in typical sadistic fashion. Naughty once again gets the raw end of the stick, as the other bears head off on vacation without inviting him. Seeking vengeance, Naughty sets about killing each of the bears for excluding him from their holiday activities. Understandably so, if I were the other bears I wouldn’t have invited the furry psychopath either.
At its core, Panic in Paradise is a sandbox style action game, borrowing stealth and RPG elements set on an island horror backdrop. From here on out, we take control of Naughty through thirty-six levels across eleven varied locations, increasing in difficulty along the way. Players can use collected in-game currency to purchase extra enhancements to aide him along the way, which adds variety and reason to progress through to the end. Inclusion of costumes is a welcome addition over its predecessor.
Despite the obvious fun one would imagine controlling a crazed teddy bear offing other plush animals would be, the concept does wear thin towards the later stages of the game. There’s only so much joy to be had performing gory executioner style moves time and time again. I found it thoroughly entertaining to watch the killing animation the first few times Naughty creatively ended the life of one of these critters, but the fulfilment from a glorified murder loses its appeal in the long term.
Inclusion of a point system keeps a running tally of all your misdeeds and how well you perform them, rewarding players for torturing stuffed victims mentally and physically. Some of the more morally imbalanced acts include driving bears to the edge of insanity as they watch their fluffy buddy commit suicide before their eyes. If it wasn’t for the cute nature of teddy bears and the supposedly comical stance Panic in Paradise takes, some would be outraged by the things witnessed in the game.
Controls can be cumbersome at times and could have been better developed to meet with the gameplay and ambitious concept at work. For a downloadable title, Panic in Paradise graphical presentation is as sharp as the original, and I don’t mean the bladed dagger in Naughty’s paw.
A surprising inclusion in Panic in Paradise is the use of stealth mechanics for silent takedowns. Although a promising prospect, the stealth element never really finds its footing, largely due to concealed assassination bucking the trend of what Naughty Bear is all about. Panic in Paradise encourages players to revel in the brutal killings by slaughtering stuffed animals in the most extravagant way possible and quite frankly, stealth kills just doesn’t have the same impact.
Not only is the use of stealth unsatisfactory, but the mechanic itself is inherently flawed and executed poorly. If spotted during a failed murder attempt, Naughty can high-tail it to the surrounding forest to hide, instantaneously making Naughty invisible. Stealth is a needless inclusion to Panic in Paradise and I imagine will be under utilised by anyone who has the chance to experience the game.
Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise is a novel idea and designed to be light-hearted, but even with a sequel and the harsh criticism of the original, there’s a sense of missed opportunities and forward-thinking here that could have potentially elevated the Naughty Bear series to a reputable franchise. The degree of fun one will experience is dependent on how fascinating and intriguing morbid themes rolled together with dark humour is to you. If you enjoyed Seth MacFarlane’s Ted and his drug-taking antics, then Panic in Paradise could be right up your alley. On the other hand, if you found the humour hard to stomach, then Panic in Paradise certainly won’t speak to you either.
Although I found Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise initially pleasing and a joy to play, it’s hard to recommend as it won’t be for everyone. Naughty Bear has always walked a fine line between appealing and appalling so tread carefully before making the purchasing plunge. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
6.0 – Above Average. Fun but it is let down by some questionable design choices. While it has its own identity, it doesn’t go beyond its own limits.
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