We can imagine that transporting someone into space and merging their DNA with a bear’s would cause a little bit of mayhem. This was confirmed when we checked out Bears In Space at PAX Aus 2023. This lightning-paced bullet-hell FPS comes from Brisbane-based studio Broadside Games, who were delighted to showcase their colourful, playful, and incredibly high-energy title to attendees.
We spoke briefly with co-creator and artist John Eyre, whose previous credits include The Forgotten City and Hand of Fate 2. Eyre described Bears In Space as a deliberate departure from the typical gritty realism of first-person shooters, focusing on vibrancy, silly humour, and pure fun. From what we experienced in the available demo build, Broadside Games have absolutely nailed the brief.
The demonstration had you play as protagonist Maxwell Atoms (fused, of course, with Beartana the She-Bear) while attempting to escape a facility full of bumbling robots. A variety of creative weapons are available, including a laser shooter and a tiny little pistol that packs a surprising punch. Defeating enemies and exploring the environment nets players cash, which can be spent on health and new weapons at shops throughout the level. The first part of the level takes players through a set of tight corridors, a quick game of “Basketcube”, and a few light environmental puzzles before they need to trek through an acid-filled battery factory.
Here, the enemy bullets come thick and fast – it has the adrenaline and pace of something like DOOM 2016, encouraging the player to stay on the move. While the environment quickly fills with projectiles, bullets move just slowly enough that you’re able to dodge them with enough skill.
After navigating the bright-green acid pools and engaging in some puzzle-platforming challenges, players face off against The Kraken, a giant, tentacled, mechanical monstrosity that holds massive hammers. It’s delightfully over-the-top, perfectly embracing the zany chaos of the rest of the game.
Other than typical FPS gameplay, exploring the gorgeous, almost cartoonish environments can net players secret collectables and extra cash. There are also a number of side stories and minigames available – in addition to the aforementioned Basketcube, the full release promises a baking adventure and a crime scene investigation. These fit very nicely into the camp chaos that Bears In Space embodies.
Bears In Space is slated for release in early 2024. You can wishlist the game on Steam here. Make sure to check out the rest of our PAX Aus 2023 coverage, including Tom’s preview of co-op action-puzzler Criminals Within.