One day while running an errand, Hank the bear and his friends happen upon a derelict cabin and turn it into pretty terrible B&B: they’ve got the bed part figured out, just not the breakfast. But humans immediately come flocking to it as if they had just spent two years quarantined in their homes and will welcome any new sight. Your first guest eagerly takes pictures of the nearby gas station and leaves a five-star review.
While this happens, Hank hasn’t actually done much to make their stay more pleasant. He has traded trash with a possum for some decorative knick-knacks for the cabin (“humans just love knick-knacks!”), but then he’s off on an entirely different mission for the local mouse mafia.
For anyone who expects a management simulation game where your guests’ happiness and expansion of your B&B empire are your top priorities, Bear and Breakfast will soon prove a disappointment.
Developer Gummy Cat instead prefers to tell Hank’s story and introduce you to the many quirky inhabitants of the forest, which is fun, but doesn’t fit with the mechanics and time investment usually required of a management game. Bear and Breakfast takes the reins from you at will in order to show you what it has in store outside Hank’s cabin, only to leave you confused about what to do next once you’re back in control.
Every bit of progress is tied to a quest, and the game doesn’t let you past its carefully drawn boundaries. Once a task is fulfilled you have to roam around to find the next quest-giver, because even progress at the cabin, such as getting new items and sorting out that breakfast, is subject to completing a story quest.
Once you have established a rhythm of welcoming guests, making money and spending it on improvements, however, Bear and Breakfast becomes frictionless. You can leave guests entirely to their own devices – and often have to, as progress regularly depends on a certain number of guests completing a stay: there is often nothing for you to do but wait.
Whether your guests’ stay is pleasant or not rarely makes a difference, so the management elements feel like stepping stones to the story Bear and Breakfast actually wants to tell. Hank is a sweet Bear and his friends are memorable enough, but in its storytelling the game seems to introduce and abandon characters for long periods of time. It is a simulation that requires patience in a genre that usually gives players loads to do – it’s a management game that’s obsessed with managing its players, rather than letting them exercise control.