This weekend saw me playing a ridiculously funny point n’ click adventure game from indie company Size Five games.
The game – Ben there, Dan that! – stars its authors, Ben and Dan, playing themselves in a parody of the genre that never takes itself too seriously. There is so much wild nodding toward the classics it almost hurts. With joy.
In the game you control Ben, who, after dezombifying dead Dan in a jungle, finds the first major task of the day is to get the television back working in time for Magnum P.I.. And then, as these types of games are want to go, a long series of improbable events occur, involving you picking up every item that isn’t nailed down and attempting to combine them in bizarre ways. What is especially nice about Ben there, Dan that! is the love and attention that has gone into each response. You will click and try things that are completely stupid, and most games of this type offer a “You cannot do that” message. Here, it is different. Most “Look”, “Talk”, “Use” or “Dan” interactions have their own unique responses and are actually funny! There’s bags of dialogue in this game, all of it written well in proper, British humour. I laughed audibly at least twice, with the rest of the dialogue keeping me internally happy throughout the adventure.
If you’ve ever played any of the old LucasArts games – the original versions of Monkey Island, Sam and Max, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle – then you will feel at home here. Not only because the game was created using the Adventure Game Studio, but because Dan and Ben have played and loved these old games, and it shows. They seem to be around my age too, and it was fun to pick up references from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bill & Ted, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.
A game like this will ultimately live and die by its puzzles and its dialogues. The puzzles are fun and I only really got stuck once – I didn’t quite have to resort to a walkthrough but I had a bit of an aimless wander until I stumbled across the solution. The game isn’t frustrating and nor is it that challenging, but that is okay because the storyline unfolds in such a way that you are incredibly curious to see what happens next.
The adventure itself only lasts 2 or 3 hours, and, as it is with this type of game, offers little replay value. But that is more a criticism of the genre rather than this game. Those couple of hours are well spent. There is also a sequel.
In conclusion then: A game that is genuinely hilarious and fun. Highly recommended.
And now for the amazing news: You can get this game and its sequel on steam for just 74p! You can’t have much fun for under a pound these days, but here is the exception to the rule.
A few more reviews of the same game:
In a lot of ways, Ben There, Dan That! is a love letter to the classic LucasArts adventures of the early nineties.
The dialogue brims with irreverent exchanges between Ben and Dan as they poke fun at each other’s suggestions
…it wasn’t horrible and I was not put off by it.
And even when stuck the game is never dull.