The Ballads of Reemus: When the Bed Bites

Genre:   Adventure

Developer & Publisher:    Click Shake Games

Released:  January 2012

 

 

by Becky

 

Reemus is a down-his-luck private exterminator. Liam, his sidekick, is a purple bear who likes to play the lute. Their goal in life -- to live an adventure worthy of a heroic ballad. One that will generate deafening applause when performed at the local pub.

The adventures of the exterminator and his bear have been chronicled in previous Indie games: The Several Journeys of Reemus. These can be played for free on the Click Shake Games website (currently the free adventures include four chapters, the most recent being The Beastly Blackhole of Bureaucracy).

In this, their first commercial game endeavor, Reemus and Liam begin their odyssey in the town of Fredricus. During an extermination procedure they destroy the local bartender's bed. This makes him so sleepy that he can't serve drinks. Their mission to replace the bed will include captivity in the house of the Swamp Witch, negotiations in the throne room of the Red Ant Queen, and food service at a birthday party in a termite's nest. The bugs they meet, cheat, and (metaphorically) Deet are as formidable as one-eyed giants and traditional monsters -- and far less predictable.

"Less talk. More rock." Sal, Construction Boss

The Ballads of Reemus: When the Bed Bites is a third person, point-and-click cartoon style adventure. It offers interaction with a large cast of whimsical characters. The game is effectively voiced, and dialogs are written with a flair for backtalk and absurdities. Animated cartoon cut scenes show the characters in close-ups that let you see the whites of their eyes (or whatever else might be reflected there). You can click through the dialogs and skip the cut scenes if you choose.

At various times you assume the roles of both Reemus and Liam. This eccentric duo enjoys a longstanding friendship based on their business partnership and its unintentional disasters. Reemus is a force for disruption. He acts on impulse and he isn't too concerned about collateral damage. Liam thinks more strategically and sensibly. He's sweet-tempered and conscientious.

The game environments are colorful, stylized , and quaint. The human inhabitants favor medieval garb. The insect hordes lack individualism (and, usually, clothing), with the exception of the tyrannical rulers and a nasty magic wielder. Background music is rhythmic and edgy. It's sometimes twangy (this is a story, after all, in which a bear plays the lute). Often the music is electronic (from energizing to raucous). 

"It kneads. It pleads. It bleeds." Vick, Gadget Salesman

Since Reemus and Liam find themselves in sticky situations, they have to think up cunning uses of objects and the environment in order to get out alive. You'll encounter many inventory challenges, some of them multi-stepped. There's also a fair amount of pixel hunting, as useful items can be non-intuitive and may blend into the scenery. At times you switch back and forth between the two main characters, cooperating in order to achieve the goal.

Other puzzles include symbol creation, matching items in specific categories and using them in combinations, and messing a bit with motion, temperature, and magnetism. The most difficult challenges are the optional Achievements -- visual challenges, like finding and assembling jigsaw pieces or locating tiny bugs and squashing them. I managed to acquire five of the eight Achievements. The Moth poster pieces defeated me despite two attempts. I don't even have a clue as to how to proceed with the Butterfly and Seagull Achievements.

"Get them out of my scent area." The Termite King

When the Bed Bites is available in download, browser, and disk versions. I played the browser version, which took a few seconds to load each time I returned to the game.

Pressing the "F" key brings up full screen mode; pressing the "Esc" key puts the game back into a window. This game has an autosave feature, but it also has a scene selection function which allowed me to go back to the start of each chapter and replay. This was essential in allowing me to pick up some of the Achievements. I'd like to see a similar feature in all games that rely primarily on the autosave function. Scene selection isn't as flexible as allowing you to save your own game, but it's a lot more flexible than autosave-only.

Quick List for The Ballads of Reemus: When the Bed Bites

A surprisingly clever comic adventure featuring Reemus (an accident-prone exterminator) and Liam (a soft-spoken bear). Colorful graphics and cut scenes reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons. Well-written dialog. None of the dialogs are lengthy and all can be clicked through. Good voiceovers.

Third person perspective, point-and-click interface. I played the browser version and encountered no problems or glitches.

The bulk of the challenges involve finding and using inventory items. Medium difficulty level. The Achievements are optional and are more difficult. The final challenge is mildly timed. No mazes, no color or sound based puzzles, no sliding tile puzzles. You can't die.

Appropriate for older children and up. Autosave only, but the scene selection feature allows you to replay from several set points. About six hours of gameplay.

Aimed at lovers of tall tales, oddball characters, and comedic escapades.

Final Grade: B+

What I played it on: 

Dell Studio XPS 8000

Windows 7 Home Premium

Intel Core i5-750 processor

6GB DDR3 SDRAM

1024MB NVIDIA GeForce GT 220

Soundblaster X-Fi

The game is available in download and browser versions. The Collector's Edition includes a disk version. For more information, visit the game's website.

 

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