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'Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise' brings more murderous options

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"Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise" brings more murderous options to the sinister world of sentient, homicidal teddy bears.

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise preserves what is appealing Naughty Bear's plight while still turning the mechanics on its head. In this sequel to 2010's Naughty Bear, the homicidal teddy bear seeks his revenge for not being invited to vacation with the other bears, making their last moments a nightmare of fluff, guts, and gore.

"Panic in Paradise gives players more of what they enjoyed, but we also made some improvements based on community feedback," 505 Games' John Sweeney tells me as we watch Naughty creep through foliage after his prey. "The game is much bigger, and we've really listened to what players had to say."

The game's island location is broken up into smaller sectioned-off areas, and each area is as large as the map from its predecessor. Progression unlocks more level subsections, allowing access to special treasures Metroidvania style.

Play is stealth-based, and kills must be meticulously planned and executed.

The first game was criticized for its repetitive kills. Now there are 36 unique bears to hunt, each one's murder requiring a specific technique. This could require Naughty wearing the face of a dead bear a la Hannibal Lector as a trick, or killing a target with his own weapon.

505 Games has added role-playing game elements via armor and weapon customization. Naughty Bear can equip items and costume pieces that level up through repeated use. Items impact Naughty's statistics. For example, a chrome thong will help Naughty recover health points,while a military coat will add strength buffs. The new Insanity statistic is Naughty's ability to terrorize them into committing suicide.

"We knew what the fans wanted."

There's more to do combat-wise, and there are a greater variety of ways to kill. A Grab mechanic lets Naughty pick up a bear and carry him to nearby objects and he can steal clothing to assume another bear's stats. Most objects in the environment can be used for kills, like cacti and bonfires.

"We knew what the fans wanted," Sweeney told me as Naughty threw a bear off a dock into the mouth of a waiting shark.

It's interesting to note that Naughty Bear has no guns in the equipment menu, opting to be more up-close-and-personal with his victims. He will, however, use other peoples' guns against them and has the option to break guns laying around levels.

Levels are thematic and packed with references to modern popular culture. Each level has sub-goals to complete, asking you collect a certain number of coins or make a certain number of bears commit suicide.

The game is definitely a little less Friday the 13th and a lot more Dexter.

The levels are devious, and Naughty's cruelty knows no bounds. In a military-themed level, "Retreat and Spa for War Heroes," our antihero chooses to take down Colonel Ketchup, who has sought to do away with Naughty many times before.

Naughty can't attack Ketchup directly, but instead must trick his surrounding troops into rising against him. I first grabbed a soldier and dragged him into the underbrush for a quick kill to steal his costume. Now, sporting the soldier's stats, Naughty lured a general over to obtain his costume. I watched Naughty collect a bear trap and place it near a thick bush. When the Colonel walked over to investigate a commotion – Naughty screeching from within the bush – he was instantly caught in the trap. Another bear ran over to help him, and I confiscated his gun and put him out of his misery before grabbing the Colonel and squeezing his head until it popped. That, as it were, is how you steal another bear's costume; you have to squeeze until they're nothing but a blossoming explosion of stuffing and fabric.

Once in the general's attire, I found the Colonel and fired at him. As I ran away the Colonel began to shoot, and other bears noticed his erratic behavior and began to shoot him as well. In the blink of an eye four soldiers were firing point-blank at my target and he was dead. Mission accomplished.

Naughty Bear: Panic in Paradise adds bulk to its predecessor's combat options, ramping up Naughty's arsenal and granting more player freedom in making kills. The game is definitely a little less Friday the 13th and a lot more Dexter.

The next level of puzzles.

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