Friday, October 31, 2014

Ben Jordan: Scourge of the Sea People Review

Ben Jordan Case Six: Scourge of the Sea People is another strong entry in the excellent free adventure game series.  It's firmly routed in the adventures of the past, so it has some design decisions that aren't popular in today's adventures, but they're handled well enough that even those who didn't play adventures in the golden age should be able to manage.

After the near death experience of the last case, Ben, Alice, and Simon decide to take a vacation in Greece.  Unbeknownst to Ben and Alice however, Ben soon makes other plans when he hears news of mysterious creatures known as sea people, who come up to the surface and carry people down to the depths of the sea.  He then goes off investigating the case on his own, while his friends try to unwind and have a nice vacation.  The story here is excellent, with a lot of the mysticism that the series is known for.  It also ties the narrative together of all of the cases together in a nice fashion, while setting things up nicely for the cases yet to come.

The puzzles here are all well done, however, since this series has roots in classic adventure games, it often brings in a relic from the past that isn't used much anymore.  However, as always it doesn't do this often, and it handles it well.  In this case, it's an object which can only be seen by waiting for a faint animation that occurs for only a few seconds.  Luckily, it doesn't fall into the trap that caused this style of gameplay to become outdated.  Here it's handled well, as the object in question is in a dark room, and the object shines.  It's also not too tiny, so it's pretty obvious to spot.  Another relic from the past is mazes, which can be frustrating when the game doesn't supply a map, as they have to be solved by chance.  The maze here isn't too long, and there are a lot of corridors where there is only one exit, so it doesn't become too tedious.

The game is still in low resolution, but the backgrounds are really nicely done and portray the beauty of the locations quite well despite the pixellation.  The character closeups are once again rendered in a style closer to the deluxe editions of the first two games, so they're presented in a semi-realistic style which compliments the style of the backgrounds.  There is still no voice acting, but the music is nicely done, and fits the atmosphere of the game well.

Scourge of the Sea People is another great case in this excellent free adventure series.  It does have some design choices that are usually better left in the past, such as an object which only appear as a glint for a few seconds, and a maze which can only be navigated through trial and error. However, it does handle these situations as well as possible, so they aren't too much of a hassle. The rest of the game, however, is excellent, and makes up for the game's few frustrating moments. The story is excellent, the dialog is interesting, the art style is charming, and the music fits the game's environments admirably. Ultimately, the sixth case of Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator is once again one of the best free adventure games out there.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

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