Bear Winter by Nevercentre is a match three survival game available on Android, iOS and the Amazon Store. Now, I know the match three genre is severely over populated, but Bear Winter really stands out. There are only 4 things to match in Bear Winter: flames, arrows, acorns and bears. You need to match three of the same icon to gain their effect, but can you match anything to clear a line. The catch is that if you ever match a bear with anything other than 2 other bears, then you lose some health. This makes the Bear Winter very tactical.
When you match three flame icons then you get 5 fires added to your total. Every move that you take uses up one fire. Collect enough arrows and you can use them to clear the entire board of bears. This is extremely useful and can get you out of some nasty scrapes. The player needs to find a balance between collecting each resource and killing bears to stay alive. At the end of each day, you take back all the things you have collected to be used in the next day. As the days add up the number of arrows you need to clear the board of bears increases as well. As such, Bear Winter gets progressively harder the longer you are alive. The result is extremely tense and panicked moments where you almost completely surrounded by bears, but manage to collect that final arrow to clear them away and survive another day.
Bear Winter succeeds in making a simple match three game into so much more. It conveys the panic and need to survive in this winter wasteland. Each turn you are going to look to see what the board has to offer you and plan what you are going to do to make the most of it. Do you match icons that are not going to give you any resources to make something better appear next turn? Or do you need to take a hit from a bear to collect some of those precious flames? The balance between not freezing to death and not being mauled by angry polar bears can lead to slightly suicidal moves. One wrong move or taking a risk that doesn’t pay off will lead to death. I really feel like I’m struggling to survive.
The music in Bear Winter really conveys that sense of hopelessness. You are going to die eventually, but how long will you live for and what will kill you are yet to be decided. The sullen tones will whisk you away to this snowy hell and make you feel very isolated. And when the end finally comes you will look upon your accomplishment with a bitter pride.
That’s right. This is Bear Winters version of in-app purchases. You gain one coin per bear kill but can pay for more. Better yet you can buy unlimited coins for a certain amount and really make the most of those three continues. Personally I both love and hate the fact there are continues. They are great because they let me try to survive even longer and maybe I made a silly mistake that got me kill. However, I feel they undermine the point of the game. You are alone in the wilderness vying for survival. When death finally comes after 5 days because the bears finally got the better of you and there is nothing left but your mangled remains. You shouldn’t get a second or even third chance, you are dead. It should be profound, not arcadey.
Bear Winter is a fantastic game that effortlessly merges two very different genres. It will have you puzzling out the best way to survive for hours. You will take forever to make a move as you plan out all the different consequences. It is a wonderful game. My only complaint is against the continues. I can understand why the developers have added it. They too are just trying to survive. The only difference is, they are matching coins instead of arrows.
This article was originally published on http://www.gamertime.co.uk but unfortunately, that site no longer exists, so I’ve republished it here.