(ags) Ben Jordan Case 1 – I must love adventure games about the paranormal.

May04 I seem to keep reviewing AGS-made adventure games that revolve around paranormal themes.  Okay maybe they’re just making them.  Okay so it was just the two Blackwell Games.  Okay so Ben Jordan and Blackwell have the paranormal in common, and, the Shivah and Ben Jordan have murder in common.  Actually that’s not true.  The Shivah had someone die and leave money to the Rabbi.  I only played the demo so I don’t know if it has anything to do with murder.  Ok so here we go, I already spilled the beans, today’s adventure game is called Ben Jordan, Paranormal Investigator in In Search of the Skunk-Ape by Grundislav Games!  Sound intriguing.  I bet Skunk-Ape grabbed you right there!  As I understand a Skunk-Ape is sort of like a smelly Big Foot.  And you all know how smelly feet are!  I decided to review the deluxe version, as it seems the creator’s original vision did come up to par with the rest of the series.  In any case, let’s see how this thing works out!

BenJordan1SS01 Okay when I first fired it up, there was a main menu, which allowed you to see the intro if you wanted to.  So I chose it.  Intro wasn’t bad, it sets up the story.  Ben Jordan was into monster movies as a kid, and later learned all he could about mysterious goings on in the world.  He graduated high school and went to college.  Then he decided to contract out his services on the internet, so he could make a living doing what he loved which was investigating the supernatural (or lack thereof).  Eventually he got his first case, and was on his way to Florida.  Okay so that sets it up, there’s a little more in the intro than what I said, so be sure to check it out when you first run the game!  Okay as most adventure games are, this was is not difficult to control.  You have five main options you can switch through with the right mouse button, walk, look, use (interact), talk, and question.  Then there’s your inventory (standard must have in most adventure games).  And your notepad.  Apparently whenever something important happens it’s recorded in your notebook so you can look back at later if you forgot what you were doing.  These last two (inventory, and notepad) are along with save, restore, and quit icons, in a bar at the top whenever you move the mouse in that general area.

Okay controls are sort of part of the interface, but I’ll try to explain it without too much repeating of what I said above.  Essentially the game is mouse-icon based like sierra games of yore (well not of lore which is even further back than yore, when text-based input was all the rage.)  right click for mouse options, hover over the control bar at the top (like I said).  You essentially left click where you want to go or what you want to interactive.  For instance have the talk icon (talk bubble with exclamation mark) over a person.  Or to move when your icon is set to walk.  The top bar that is visible shows the name of the game and a score on the right.  When you talk to characters a talk box appears with their portrait in the upper right and left hand corners of the screen.  When playing you can ask a character questions, or just talk to them.  Eventually all the talk options will be used up.  One of the things that really struck me as well done and possibly odd for the fact that I don’t see it a lot (actually I don’t play a lot of AGS games, but those I have played…) is the talk boxes (character portraits) were actually LIP-SYNCED CORRECTLY!  That’s right, no odd moving of the mouth when the speaking was done, no talk loops, it looks like the CHARACTERS WERE ACTUALLY TALKING!!  Amazing, or at least to me.  I would really like to know how the developer managed to keep the words synced to the actual audio.

BenJordan1SS02 The game screams amateur, but it screams good amateur not bad amateur.  The graphics aren’t as crisp or well done as they could be (for an example of an indie adventure game whose graphics are done really well try Blackwell Unbound.)  However the perspective, and proportion of the character graphics are all ok.  Actually most of the backgrounds look like smudged charcoal, but in color.  This isn’t a serious drawback though, the graphics are still pretty good, much better than a lot of amateur stuff out there.  The music is quite good, what little I heard of it, and the audio I guess I didn’t notice sounds.  But there was voice acting.  The voice acting could have almost sounded professional if it weren’t for what seems to be quality of the audio.  Sounds like it was recorded in someone’s bedroom, which it probably was, however the readings aren’t done bad at all.  One last little niggle about the voice acting, is the narrator.  You don’t know where this narrator comes from, and he almost sounds like Ranger Ernie, the first ranger you meet.  (Which is probably because the guy that does both voices is one and the same, and happens to be none-other than the creator himself Francisco Gonzalez.)  I didn’t really understand why Ben Jordan’s Inner Monologue had a southern drawl, but that’s the way it goes, you’ll get used to it after while.

The story is interesting in that you first find a dead ranger’s ripped open body.  Now normally I like to keep the games I review somewhat family friendly.  I reviewed Ben Jordan because it doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything for the gross out factor, and the fact that the graphics, not as well done as a professional artist would, and in such low resolution, that it renders the violent images sort of muted.  Just to let you know though, this is about a detective and violent murders.

BenJordan1SS03 Final Analysis:  A very, very, good example of what a small group of amateur developers can do.  It’s an interesting story, decent graphics and sound, and a solid interface.  Plus I give it really high points for lip-syncing the animations to the actual dialogue audio.  Try it out!

Name: Ben Jordan, Paranormal Investigator

Developer: Grundislav Games

Price: Free, free, free, everybody loves free!

Where you can get it:  Here!

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3 Responses to “(ags) Ben Jordan Case 1 – I must love adventure games about the paranormal.”

  1. […] (ags) Ben Jordan Case 1 – I must love adventure games about the paranormal. […]

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    Uhfgood’s review of Ben Jordan Case 1 by Grundislav Games | IndieFlux.com

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