Does the title catch your attention? Well, it did certainly catch mine and I’m so glad it did. Bears in Space is a lovable sci-fi adventure developed by a small team of Ozzie game designers, having spent the best part of 7 years making this. It’s a true labour of love, filled to the brim with crazy action, plentiful nostalgic gaming references, and most importantly, it’s funny! (unlike a certain other sci-fi comedy game that came out in 2022 and was voiced 99% by one, controversial man).

So if you want to keep it short and sweet (like my lovemaking), then Bears in Space is a must (saves you skipping to the end of the review for my overall bit). But if you want to know why, and if you will love Bears, and them being in space (which you should), then read on.

What is Bears in Space?

Bears in Space is a sci-fi-themed comedy FPS, where you take on the role of legendary astronaut Maxwell Adams, who’s just one day away from retirement (not a good sign). While on his last mission, commanding a massive starship transferring prisoners who are sentient bears (so, normal bears, but they talk!). Soon enough after waking from a well-deserved nap, the ship is thrown into chaos as it is attacked by a Bear armada looking to free all the prisoners. Maxwell has the chance to save the day but manages to crash the ship onto a distant planet, killing off his crew and leaving any survivors to fend for themselves.

Also, he finds his mind fused with a quick-witted talking Bear named Beartana (or BT for short), who I loved so much in the story. What happens next is a roller coaster of an adventure where Maxwell and BT must work together to escape the clutches of a menacing robot civilisation that generally doesn’t favour outsiders, non-robots, and bears!

It’s a simple, buddy cop formula, but one that’s brimming with plenty of creativity and comedy magic. With the advantage of being in the role of a wise-cracking bear who can wield numerous cool weapons, eat honey to power up into an absolute furry killing machine, and deal with countless funny references to pop culture and gaming. But above all, Bears in Space is a magic moment in gaming, that shows you don’t need a 100 Million dollar budget, or 600 people working on something, to make a gaming marvel.

To boldly go, where no bear has gone before!

So as the story goes, it’s perfectly fine and dandy, never going into the realms of arthouse, or Christopher Nolan complexity, and again that’s perfectly fine.

What I was expecting and got was a humble sci-fi romp featuring bears, space, killer robots, and bullet-hell mayhem. The journey for Maxwell and BT is a sweet one where they get on with things and work together to get back to Earth. There are no devastating character arches, liar reveals, tedious and needless stress points that come out of nowhere, but just a good, honest adventure that manages to pack in so much epic creativity and fun, that I can’t help but love it. I just finished another game called Saviourless, which has thick layers of narrative construction, deep thematic beats and a message that left me pondering on life, love and storytelling. So, I needed a nice palate cleanser to relax and laugh too, and Bears in Space is just that.

It's like watching Memento, and then watching Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hours, to enjoy and reset my brain too.

What you get is a simple, yet fun adventure where you’ll be fighting robots, dealing with thematic elements on bear persecution (they are the most adorable, furry killing machines on the planet), and how friendship can come about in the strangest pairings.

But where Bears in Space shines brightest, is through its comedy and plentiful number of references … and there are so many! Now I Could easily see all these references getting tiresome, or the comedy in general becoming somewhat grating if it weren’t for the variety and pacing. Bears in Space manages to pack in so many references I lost count, and if like me, you love Simpsons memes, Scottish robots, and gaming references that make sense in the context of the situation, then this is the game for you.

Even more impressive is how so many of these references are woven beautifully well into the gameplay, with set-pieces that are identical to the old Time Crisis games, or entering yourself into a basketball league, working your way up to the championship for a grand prize. There are mentions and throwbacks to Metal Gear Solid, Unreal Tournament, and so many others I lost count. Some of the best moments are those which again, like the Time Crisis bit, are woven into gameplay in a meaningful and fun way. Like when BT eats honey and “Powers up”, it’s reminiscent of those bits in DOOM (and more closely to DOOM 3), where you consume the Override pickup, and unleash utter chaos on your enemies.

The reason these references all work so well is that they’re cleverly placed within the world, don’t outstay their welcome and never point to the fact they're doing the reference smugly. I get not everyone will get every reference, as a couple of them I didn’t, but the general vibe and execution of the jokes were all just brilliant. One of my favourite moments early on has BT and Maxwell randomly come across a police lineup, where you need to pick out a murder correctly with no context or info. I spent a good 10 minutes deciding and when the result came about, I was in stitches. I won’t ruin it, but it’s freaking hilarious.

But outside the references and all that, is genuine funny writing, with all the robots having distinct personas, different voices, and funny lines that will bring plenty of chuckles, I’m sure. Bears in Space is just a funny video game, and doesn’t waste your time with needless and long-winded Improv bits, all mainly voiced by the same guy … I know people do like High and Life, and it does have its moments, but Bears in Space doing what it does makes it far more clever, witty and straight to the point overall.

And not forgetting to mention that this a lovely looking game, with plenty of charm, variety and personality which excels above many other sci-fi games, and comedy games trying the same thing. While not photorealistic or immensely detailed, to think that 3 guys crammed in so much variety and quirkiness into multiple environments and settings, is simply astonishing.  

In Soviet space … Bear plays you!

Much like the writing, Bears in Space has a lot of variety and charm when it comes to the gameplay, with the core of course being a colourful, cartoonish, bullet-hell-laden shooter.

The core mechanics of shooting, platforming and dodging massive bullets are nothing new, and to be honest, if it were just that then I wouldn’t be recommending this game. But alongside the funny writing, and the abundance of set-pieces, creative puzzles, and variety of weapons and pickups make Bears in Space one of the most enjoyable shooters in recent memory. The best way to describe it is if DOOM Eternal, Borderlands, and Bulletstorm had a wild night together, and out popped their creation, it would be Bears in Space (sorry for the lewd, and weird metaphor).

The general loop is Maxwell, and BT are dropped within an area, where you need to get from point A, to point B. And yeah, that is quite straightforward, but the number of things you’ll be doing and shooting in between those points is what makes Bears in Space so entertaining. There is of course the combat, ranging from small skirmishes to absolutely intense, and brutal all-out conflicts with dozens of robots where bullets are flying everywhere. And this happens a lot, with the intensity of the bullet-hell mayhem often reaching peak craziness in the larger battles, and boss encounters you come across.

The bullet-hell nature is a compelling one and will keep you on your toes, especially in the bigger boss fights. And while there aren’t many of these types of games, there is a clear vision of games that do bullet-hell situations right and those that do it wrong. Returnal is a classic example, and thankfully Bears in Space does it right also. Arenas for the heavier conflicts are often massive, giving you plenty of room to move around in and avoid enemy fire. All the projectiles are visible, and enemy variety and combinations, usually mean there isn’t an ungodly overwhelming sense of unfairness. There were a couple of moments which got insanely close, but with the generous checkpoint system, and tight controls, I found even in the most intense encounters, I was able to get by and have fun doing so.

The Bear-essentials

What keeps things fresh and compelling throughout the campaign is the mass assortment of weapons and powerups you’ll be coming across. There are ray guns, shotguns, rocket launchers, and bubbles you can use. Yes, bubbles, are deadly and accurate. In total, there are 25 weapons, which can be earned, and some upgraded throughout the campaign. With some being available to buy from your trusted vendor bot, and others requiring some additional legwork in a side quest.

And while I haven’t used them all, the primary ones were practical and made an impact in the many fights I found myself in. Plus, the upgrades for the pistol, shotgun, and rocket launcher-type weapons feel impressive and important during combat, changing things up quite a bit. Such as being able to dual wield your pistols, or having a shotgun that fires multiple shots in a row, delivering a deadly spread of bits to the enemy.

There are of course some more jokey weapons, like the boomerang arm, which are either decent or have no purpose other than a one-time laugh. I do wish some of these weapons were scraped to make a tighter, and meaningful roster of guns, and from what I saw these side arms didn’t include any upgrades. But there are still enough which do the job, and do it well, along with some joke weapons which provide a decent giggle.

Aside from the shooting, what nicely breaks it up as you may have guessed are the various set-pieces, side quests, and mini-game-like activities which usually change the perspective, be it in a down-top arcade-inspired shooter, to a bit where you’re racing a boat through a sea-mine field while collecting bags of loot!

Again, not to repeat myself, but I was amazed at what the guys did, and how much fun it all was overall. I never found a mini-game, or side quest I didn’t like, as again they’re straight to the point, fun, and offer something new each time upon discovery. It would have been so easy to see Bears in Space feel utterly cluttered and the pacing being stop/start in execution. But the pacing and flow from set-piece to shooting, to mini-game to boss fight was seamless. Especially when many of these random encounters are optional, but worth finding and checking out for extra coins, memorable funny moments, and epic weapons, like one which is just the Flak Cannon from Unreal Tournament!

And, the level design can be very creative, especially in the later chapters as you get new gear that allows you to hack open doors, swing from platforms, and press switches from afar. Amounting to lots of different forms of pathing finding and progression through each level in neat ways.

There aren’t any outstanding negatives for me to speak of, but I can see some people not liking the plentiful number of references, side quests, or the intense bullet-hell moments near the end. I did find the first hour or so a little light in combat but was enjoying the side quests and references too much to mind. But the main thing I would say is that some elements do repeat towards the end of the game, seeing the same set-piece or mini-game a couple of times too many. They’re still fun, and more unique moments do occur. But Bears in Space could have used some trimming to make the runtime a little more gracious, and those repeated moments not so present.

But aside from that, Bears in Space is outstanding!


Bears in Space is some of the most enjoyable, and immense fun I’ve had recently, being an absolute banger, of funny writing, creative variety, and joyous sense of game design and set-piece epic-ness. There’s so much here to admire, and the charm and personality of this lovable game does shine through. It would have been so easy for it all to go wrong, and I’m so glad it didn’t, as the 3 guys who made it, clearly have a passion and immense talent for making funny, enjoyable video games that stick to the basics, and propel the entertainment factor through creative design, brilliant world-building, and a great sense of humour that oldies like me can chuckle at and feel joy once again.

This is an easy recommendation, so stop reading my review, go and buy yourself Bears in Space, and have that classic, humble video game fun we’ve all been missing out on recently. Bears in Space is a phenomenal comedy cult classic in the making, and I can’t wait to see what the guys do next, be it a sequel or a new game. I hope we don’t have to wait 7 years for it!

+++ Lots of creativity, tons of personality, and funny as heck!
++ The variety in world design, enemies, set pieces and weapons is tremendous.
++ Lots of secrets, side quests, rewards, and extra bits to find and enjoy.
+ Looks and sounds darn good!

- Some of the side weapons aren’t as entertaining or useful as they could be.
- Little slow to begin with.
- The pacing and ton of good side content might not please everyone, I guess? But it should.

For this review, the publisher kindly provided a copy of Bears in Space for PC.