Sneaky Bears, by developer/publisher WarDucks, is a newly released wave shooter available for Playstation VR and Oculus rift. We grabbed a pair of Move controllers and tried it out on a Playstation 4 Pro.
Of course, the wave shooter is one of those genres that we expected to see a lot of when VR came rolling around. Surprisingly, especially on Playstation VR, we haven’t really been overwhelmed by them and one of the better budget-priced games for the system is a wave shooter as well (Gunjack). Since I was fully expecting to be overwhelmed with shovelware wave shooters for the medium, this was a pleasant surprise. Sneaky Bears definitely fall into that category as well, since it’s an example of a wave shooter done right.
There’s a plot to Sneaky Bears, and it’s something that could have come out of a movie that was released 25 to 30 years ago, when Child’s Play was followed with silly copycat movies like Demonic Toys. In Sneaky Bears, an evil bear called Frank plans to “liberate” all the teddy bears in the world from their human captors – and he has you locked inside a teddy bear factory filled with furry creatures that have come alive and will try to kill you and your friend Buddy, the panda bear.
The premise is silly and the game doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s been executed with all the flair of a silly B-movie – including over-the-top dialogue between characters to help set the scene. This elevates the game above just being a simple wave shooter, although that is of course still the bulk of it all. Every one of the twenty-or-so levels in the game has you shooting down wave after wave of teddy bears, with a final boss level that sees you facing off against Frank.
There are subtle variations between the various levels to mix up the gameplay though, so you’re not just repeating the same shooting gallery type of level the whole time. Levels fall into one of three varieties, with survival mode being the standard type of wave shooter that sees you armed with a regular gun and a shotgun – the latter of which is used for the heavier enemy types who have stronger armor.
Another mode will require you to do some serious multitasking, as your secondary weapon becomes a water gun that you have to use to put out fires. If you’re even sneakier than the bears, you can have a second player use one of the Move controllers instead, but it’s a fun challenge to try to do both tasks at once. Something similar occurs in the third and last level type, in which you use a freeze ray to stop enemies and their bombs from causing damage. These bombs are generally not aimed at you, but rather at imprisoned panda bears – who for some reason are Frank’s mortal enemies.
There isn’t any kind of great depth to the core gameplay besides the three level types, but that’s not to be expected in a game of this type. You can pick up the odd power-up here and there, but everything plays out more or less like you’d expect. When you’re playing from a seated position you’ll want to sit near the edge of the seat so you can reload by aiming your controller at hip height, but other than that small potential issue the motion controls work great as well.
As is the case with wave shooters, the game isn’t too long and you’ll see the end of the campaign after about 90 minutes of gameplay. After that, you can go back and improve your (local) high scores, but the replay value is limited. Nevertheless, Sneaky Bears is a great example of a wave shooter that was developed from the ground up for VR. The shooting is solid, the personality and flair that come with it are excellent. As we wait for one of the classic rail-based shooters to make a VR comeback, this is a good way to pass the time.