Bear and Breakfast is the most fun I've had with a management sim in a long time. As I write this, I can't wait to finish up the checklist of tasks on my last hotel and round out my recipe list. It's a crafting experience with a lot of depth that never becomes too repetitive, and even when it gives you too much to do, it also encourages you to step back and take a breath.
It avoids feeling like a simple educational game while also hitting emotional highs that underscore humanity's impact on animal populations. A story that becomes overly simplistic in its back half and some frustrating stealth sections aren't enough to stop the game from being an engaging survival experience, or to dilute its brutally honest message about the challenges that await us as we hurtle towards warming without adequate regulations. Endling's greatest skill is in making us empathize with the animals we live among, and in making it clear that though they bear the effects of climate change before we do, our fates are ultimately entwined.
This pairing of humans and the natural world up against a common antagonist, not necessarily as allies but as common victims, makes it clear how intimately Norco is tied to the swamps, valleys and fields that surround it. This interconnection between individuals with little in common on the surface but a shared place and history is where “Norco” locates the possibility for hope, a provocation that might offer those of us playing a model for our own local responses to corporate encroachment and environmental devastation. Through these mutually affecting connections between humans, nature and technology, “Norco” creates its own robotic story, disturbing, personal and fresh, an experience that should not be missed.