Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator - Case 4: Horror at Number 50 review
There is nothing better than a playful ghost
There is nothing better than a playful ghost... Ben Jordan to Alice Wilkins, Day One.
Ben Jordan is a paranormal investigator, graduated in International Relations. But not wanting to work at the local grocery, he decided to conduct investigations... involving paranormal - after all, it was his passion... After the tragedy in Smailholm (see case 3), Ben is in London, at the request of Percival Quentin Jones, the other investigator who knows what happened in the village. He's contacted by a Mr. Miggs, wanting him to investigate his house, thinking that the legend about it is true after a few strange things. In the XIXe century, two sailors seeked refuge in this building for sleeping but something attacked them. One of the sailors was murdered and the other was terrified and told the story but died later. Ben accepts the case and along with four others investigators, will be thrown into something he'd never imagined.
BJ: Horror at Number 50 is the fourth case of the BJ series, released since 2004 by Grundislav Games and is an independent game made with the AGS engine, with the spirit of the old-school adventure games. Case 4 was released in 2005 and is an introduction to the characters of Simon Booth and Alice Wilkins, two persons who will appear in Ben's next cases and be helpful for solving them.
Gameplay has improved but not so much, it's still 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 that you read in a box as the game isn't voiced at all. Anyway, a new icon is making its appearance (for those who played the Deluxe Edition of Case 1 before the Case 4, it's not a surprise): the (!), or "talk without question". Generally, it's just for one or two sentences, just for humor. Consider it as a bonus because the (?) or "talk" is the most important icon for discussion. Case 3 introduced the "typing" gameplay but it's absent in Case 4. It's probably why the mobile phone makes its appearance: it has a real importance in the game because you will need it for contacting Percy or Miggs. If it's great to have this new feature, you don't have time to pause between two pressures, even for looking to the number. You'll ring and you'll have to start composing it. You had no choice but to have in memory the number. Another frustrating thing about is that if you pressed a wrong number, you can't clear it. You had to let it ring and... well, you know the drill.
Graphics are correct for a game without great expectations, just wanting to entertain players. But for once, you had to stay in a closed house, meaning that you don't have landscape or anything else to prove that the AGS engine is a good one. Anyway, you have the details in each room to remind you that the engine isn't bad.
Soundtrack is also good. Not as good as in the previous cases though. Why? Well, in the previous cases, you have ongoing music. Here, well, it has disappeared for the ambient sounds, which are very good effects. Music is only appearing in the Travel Room, when you hang out with Simon and Alice the first night or for dramatic moments.
As for the lifetime, count maximum two hours for finishing it. Contrary to the previous case in Smailholm, you don't have to decipher messages or to make real choices leading to two endings. Yes, you can choose for the first night if you hang out with Simon and Alice or go to bed but the result is only a gain of points if you choose one of these choices. But I wouldn't want Ben Jordan becoming a long game. It's for relaxing and finishing a game without having destroyed brain cells because of long reflexion or banging head on the keyboard.
So, I strongly recommend the game but if you've played the third case, you'll be somewhat disappointed by the mobile, the fact that you're locked in a house and that music isn't ongoing. I hope that the 5th case is much better and that the mobile gameplay will be fixed.
About the author