Who Stole My Beard? Review (PC): Weirdo Beardo Reference

Who Stole My Beard? Only one way to find out in this indie adventure out now on Steam.

Welcome to Beardsville, the setting for Who Stole My Beard? – an indie adventure from Neil Collier, a.k.a. ClearDot Games, and out today on Steam.

You play a detective named Indie who wakes up one morning to find his beard has gone. We’ve all done it and experimented with a new style, only to shave it off and await the regrowth, forgetting about it until we catch our reflection, but this time around…it’s been stolen!

Accompanied by his faithful companion Leo, a German Shepherd that talks through a dog translator, Indie sets out into town on the eve of the Beard Festival to gather the clues and ascertain Who Stole My Beard? Well, his.

Who Stole My Beard? Review

A top-down adventure, the duo set out into town, meeting NPCs with various beard styles (it’s the law for EVERYONE to have a beard in Beardsville, and rightly so), conducting a wealth of optional quests, getting on their good side and greasing their palms with bribes – er, gifts. Who knows, you might get a new beard style out of it.

Who Stole My Beard Review - Map
A map close up. Source: Steam

Unfortunately, you’re shopped to the beard police quite early on, so their rugged group of goatee-sporting law enforcers will be aiming to bring you in. On the fortunate side, if you’re caught, you’ll repeat the ‘combat’ section until you get it right as there are no game overs in Beardsville, but on the unfortunate side, the combat isn’t much fun, forcing you to complete a series of moves that aren’t particularly flexible.

Outside of Indie’s apartment, there’s the option to check out the world map of places to visit on foot or by hailing a cab, paying three credits in the process. Travelling is a bit of a pain with the clock ticking as around 7-8 pm, all the buildings close down, so you can only head to the saloon. 

In his wisdom, Leo suggested we go check out the game at the stadium, so six credits later of going back and forth, we arrive to be told that the game has started and we can’t come in. In the end, I just left the game running, had a cup of tea, then came back to continue my quests. Only, with the town on lockdown at midnight, you get two hours of game time until you’re automatically transported to your apartment, then restart the day, reliving the Beard Festival, as if some bearded Groundhog Day.

Charmed, I’m Sure

Who Stole My Beard? is a charming experience. I wouldn’t usually seek out this type of game on appearances alone, but the story and features caught my attention, what with being a German Shepherd owner, beard model, and having a penchant for dad jokes. Mind, these are all excuses really, as these aren’t a requirement for your enjoyment. 

Who Stole My Beard - Leo
Leo’s on the case. Source: Steam

As for the humour, it doesn’t disappoint. Who Stole My Beard? over-delivers on the dad jokes with great effect, and they have all been noted to use appropriately to embarrass my daughters at the right opportunity. Interestingly, they’re performed mainly by Leo. Who says the Germans have no sense of humour? It’s not all one-liners either, as the interaction with fellow beardies is a lot of fun, too, and being manipulated by them by carrying out numerous fetch quests is mirrored by the very many bribes – sorry, gifts, you can provide. It was surprising to see beard gel, though, as surely it would have been oil, if not wax? Beard nerd.

I’m not sure if all the assets in the game were a result of Neil’s design or from a library, as having reviewed Japanese Romaji Adventure, I later noted from user comments that some of these things are readily available to use in adventure games. From a gamer perspective, they all worked well, and I was often able to forget myself and feel part of the Beardsville community – except for the combat and having to backtrack before the day was up.

The character illustrations during dialogue appealed to me more than the gameplay sprites (they’re a little like Matt Groening’s style without copying it). Still, it was the writing and storytelling that was the standout.

Man’s Best Friend

The dialogue between varying NPCs felt like a them and us, like their sixth sense was whispering in their ear that I was a charlatan without a beard. Still, the exchanges on the surface were mostly civil and varied depending on the type of character you speak with. Just don’t ask about their beards, or they’ll put you down.

Who Stole My Beard Review - Grocery list
Grocery list. Source: Steam

Naturally, it’s the dialogue between the two leads that make Who Stole My Beard? As per the original news piece, this adventure honours Neil’s beloved German Shepherd, Leo (a beautiful pic shows up in the credits). That assumed relationship between him and his companion comes across in the exchanges between Indie and his companion Leo. Despite the awesome dad jokes, this isn’t a double act of the straight guy and comedic sidekick (despite the awesome dad jokes). Indie is neither a Sherlock Holmes nor bumbling Inspector Gadget as Leo often keeps him in check with his counsel and game tips on where to go next.

I know a large community likes this type of indie game, and while I wouldn’t include myself as a fan, Whole Stole My Beard? managed to steal my heart with that recurring feeling: charming. A few moments dampen the mood, but generally speaking, this is a lovely indie title on par with a classic Van Dyke beard.