Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator - Case 1: In Search of the Skunk-Ape review
You need a break? Try Ben Jordan!
Welcome in Ben Jordan's world (original release)
What's Ben Jordan?
Ben Jordan is an adventure game I discovered yesterday (at time of writing), wanting to complete the profiles, so empty. And I was very pleased to see that the game was free, not so big (6,4 Mb) and an old-school adventure, reminder of an ancient time... twenty years ago. Or fifteen? Well, it doesn't matter. I was just reminded that when I was younger, I was playing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis.
So I downloaded, and so here I am, nearly one hour after finishing it, reviewing it. Yes, I did finish the game. It takes between 15 and 30 minutes to achieve it. You can also try the Deluxe Edition, which is basically the same but with voice actings, new graphics, extended storyline and new locations. Just don't expect to play more than one hour.
Skunk-Ape? Skunk-Ape? Are you sure?
Storyline is simple: Ben Jordan, a young man having graduated in International Relations, or as he put it "being prepared to work at the local grocery", decides to became a paranormal investigator, much to his parents's chagrin. His first case leads him in the Everglades Florida, where the local attraction, errrrh, Bigfoot, is murdering tourists and rangers. The Skunk-Ape seems to have a grudge against humans. It's up to Ben to find the truth... without Horatio Caine, from CSI:Miami... What? You don't understand? Florida... Everglades... Miami... Whoooooo are you... (the most known generic for the CSI series)...
Ben Jordan is presenting himself in that graphic movie in the Deluxe Edition
What about the Deluxe Edition
The storyline is the same for the Deluxe Edition but with some modified puzzles or events. For example, in the orginal game, you need to modify a picture in order to make it look like a NPC was killing a local celebrity in order to make another NPC distract the first, believing the pic to be a real one. Well, in the Deluxe, it's completely different: you don't need to do a fake pic but instead, you need to find another way to distract this NPC and making him occupied by the second one. But basically, it's the same: you need to solve the mystery around the Skunk-Ape. At the end, the result is the same, whether you're in the original game or the Deluxe one.
Point - Click - Point - Click
Gameplay is the old-school one: use your mouse to select an action like "observe", "take", "talk" or "walk". About this latter, you can't walk if you don't select walk; that's a bit disappointing for people used to walking with just clicking on a place with the mouse. You can pick objects with the finger icon ("take"). For using them, you need to go into your inventory, select the one you want to use and click on the character or object you want to interact with. With the eye icon ("observe") you can observe your environment. Ben will always say something... well, as the original game isn't voiced, you read it in a box.
The dialogue box
In the Deluxe Edition, you can simply speak to a NPC with the icon ! and interrogate him or her with ?. If you're not used to that (well, if you're used to see automatic icon appearing), you'll be a little confused. Hey, I've played the second case and I was still confused but less than in the first (Deluxe or not).
Note that when you're walking, in the original game, you need just to walk towards an extremity of your screen. In the Deluxe Edition, you have a map for going from a location to another.
The map in the Deluxe Edition
Graphics are correct for a little game which doesn't have great expectations. No, Ben Jordan was just made for fun and for a short moment, it's not the new Runaway or So Blonde, so you can forgive the lack of details. Deluxe Edition is indeed with enhanced graphics but still, you'll not be in presence of the new Broken Sword or Dreamfall. But be aware that Deluxe Edition is more explicit, about blood for example.
The Ranger Station in the original release
The Ranger Station in the Deluxe Edition
Listening to the radiooooooo
Soundtrack is also good. No voice acting (only in the Deluxe edition - and the actors are pretty good) but music is good. For a small game, it's really a shock to see that the developer was so full of will for making a very correct product.
Challenges? I love it!
You also have a challenge: collection 100 points out of 100 (68 in the Deluxe) by talking and learning some facts or picking a object or doing a specific action. Anyway, it's not really rewarding to do so but you know how the human mind works when you're playing a game with challenges, you must absolutely complete it for not being frustrated by low performance...
At small game, small review
Well, in conclusion, you're doing a break from work and need something relaxing. Download Ben Jordan: In Search of the Skunk-Ape. It's free, short, small file. So, try it. And if you're in need of an extended break, try the Deluxe Edition. Maybe it will be deja-vu if you've played the original one but the Deluxe Edition is in fact what the first case should be and is tied to the plot of the whole series.
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