After Devil’s Kiss, this was the Main Event. A new Ben and Dan adventure game, and long awaited followup to Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please. Unlike those games, there’s a whole load of platforming mixed in with the point-and-clickery, as Dan has decided exciting indie platformer adventures are the in-thing, and Ben’s insistence on examining everything and refusal to jump even the smallest amount both clash and co-exist in a unique hybrid of styles.
But it’s not the new platforming, or even the old adventuring, that make the game one of the best indies I’ve played in a long time. No, it’s the clever puzzles and the heavy hit after heavy hit of comedy that never once lets up. The new mechanics mainly streamline the inherent slowness of the point and click genre, which is great, but the shakedown of tropes from both genres provides fodder for puzzles and quips alike.
The characters, situations and items and you come across through the game are varied and silly. Some are a stroke of genius, with spoiler-free standouts being the Daily Mail reader thinking Ben is a dirty foreigner, the yoofspeak section when Ben and Dan are too old to get into a nightclub and can’t understand a word the kids are saying, Ben calling Dan “pickle” and asking if he needs help in an especially tricky platforming bit (and Dan getting increasingly annoyed with him), and use of what appeared to be a bug. And the whole Sonic the Hedgehog-y platforming section that Dan has to do as Sonic would but Ben adventures his way around by manipulating the respawn process is inspired. I’d love to explain more but it’d solve puzzles for you, and you really need to do that for yourself.
Humour aside there’s still a very good game here. The platforming isn’t quite the Super Meat Boy/Celeste/VVVVVV that in-game (and maybe also game-dev) Dan perhaps wants it to be, but it’s perfectly good enough. The item use and combining (sorry, it’s crafting now) bits are at least as good as any you’d find in Monkey Island or Thimbleweed Park with equal parts weird, unusual, and gross. One of the “items” in Ben’s inventory is his own bladder, for example, and yes – there are toilet and non-toilet related puzzles associated with it.
It’s an excellent game, and even if you’re not a fan of point and click games I implore you to play it anyway. The comedy is good enough to carry the game, even though it doesn’t have to as the game is good enough without it, and that’s something even the big boys of gaming with teams of writers don’t manage. I’ve not laughed out loud this many times at any game ever.