Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ben Jordan Case 6: Scourge of the Sea People

Ben Jordan has decided to take a vacation. Little did he know what the rest of us already did – that if it’s a Ben Jordan game, he’ll be chasing after monsters no matter what his original intentions were. This time, the story takes place in an idyllic Greek village, and the monsters appear to be the descendants of the Greek mythological god Phorcys. This god, along with his wife, seems to have spawned quite the offspring, which included Medusa and the other gorgons, the Sirens, and more.

The author of the game has done his homework in this game, and has dutifully described Phorcys and his wife, and relayed parts of the legends about him. Ben Jordan finds himself entangled in a plot where the Sea People, descendants of the god, awakened after a thousand years and once again began dragging people into the sea. With his two friends, and joined by the author of the guide for paranormal investigators, Ben must find a way to stop the attacks.

Francisco Gonzales, a.k.a. Grundislav, the maker of the Ben Jordan series, has grown tremendously since the first title. Over the past few parts he developed a slowly changing personality for his main character, and as the time goes by, he adds new characters who tag along, but who also have their own personalities. Even though sometimes I feel the character development seem to be a little too fast, such as in the third game of the series where Ben managed to fall in love, get betrayed by and have his love interest die in a span of ten minutes, Grundislav has improved in this respect as well, and instead of having the characters experience everything on the screen he allowed them to have their own little adventures in the background. Their character development, relayed through the characters’ retelling of their stories, seems thus more believable.

The author also keeps improving the structure of his games. Instead of making them more difficult and appealing to an ever tighter group of fans of the series, he actually made them more accessible to others by focusing on the story and character development, and keeping the puzzles relatively easy. The fact that the number of locations is strictly limited helped in this regard even further. This will not only attract new players to the series, but also prompt them to play older games, as Grundislav threw in a bunch of flashbacks from earlier games to bait the new players. In addition to these flashbacks, he hinted at future events and an unknown entity behind all the paranormal occurrences.

Not all is perfect, though. Even though the game demands great suspension of disbelief as Ben encounters various mythical beasts, I was a little taken back by the anticlimactic ending. Given the amount of damage and fear the monsters have caused, seeing the culprit was worse than watching the ending of a Scooby Doo episode.

Production-wise, the game is still a mixed bag. Grundislav did his best with the graphics. Despite the very low resolution of 320x200, the backgrounds look like watercolor paintings, and all of them are very atmospheric. Character animations and graphics, especially in close-up scenes, look still amateurish, though. The highlight, however, was the excellent and very fitting soundtrack, which seems to include a specific theme for each of the locations. It worked very well towards the overall immersive atmosphere for the game. The only tiny gripe I have here is that in the sound of doors being opened sounded more like someone getting punched in the stomach. Unfortunately, there are very many doors that need to be opened…

All in all, though, Ben Jordan Case 6: Scourge of the Sea People, is a very fine game, easily accessible to adventure players of all levels and very immersive. It shouldn’t take more than three hours to play through, but it offers a peak at other titles in the series, which those new to the series may want to explore and thus extend their playing experience. Ben Jordan is slowly but surely rising up the pantheon of adventure game heroes, and it would be a shame if you missed out on him.


Anonymous free pc games said...

Ben Jordan adventures are really good games.

free pc games

1:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home