Reviewed by Mr. Bill and Lela
As most of you know, normally we don't review Free games. Not because we have anything against them. Actually we really love to see them still being made, because it bodes so well for the future of adventure gaming. And we do try to keep a list for you of many that are available. It's just that we have found that it's impossible for us to review all of the new commercial games being released (if we want to have time to get anything else done), without our trying to cover the free games too.
Recently however, a U.K. Internet friend of ours, Joe Townsend, asked us to Beta test a new game that he has developed. You may or may not remember that Joe was the young man who created Thod several years ago, and we could see that he showed promise then. Well, it just so happened that he asked us during a period when we were taking a little time off to rest, and we were curious to see what he was up to now. So we agreed to do it. And we enjoyed the game so much that we felt we really should make you all aware of it.
The very first thing that we noticed, right off the bat, was just how far Joe has come since Thod. It really wouldn't take much at all to turn this new game of his into a commercially marketable (that is, saleable) product. And that's saying a lot for a little game that was created entirely by one man, working alone in his spare time, and with the limitations that are inherent in the gaming software that he used.
He grabs your attention right from the opening scene and keeps it all the way up through the end credits, even though the background setting and story is one that you think you know by heart. How, you ask. Especially when this is just a little cartoon-style, 2D, 3rd Person, point-and-click game with some music and a few sound effects, but no voice (one of the limitations of the software). Well, primarily because this is classic adventure game fare... the kind of game that made the genre so popular to begin with, only updated here to reflect our modern outlook and mores.
You play Benji, a shorts-and-sandals clad young man who suddenly finds himself marooned on an apparently peaceful desert island... the sole survivor of a plane crash, as far as he knows. But it isn't long before he discovers that indeed there are some other inhabitants (crew members from a previous shipwreck and a group of indigenous natives, for starters), and that there is something very weird going on here on the island.
Now if that storyline sounds familiar, it's because it's intended to. For this is a very well thought out, tongue-in-cheek satire, with running 'spot on' low key observations, from Benji and the other characters, that pretty much sum up our current customs, culture, and entertainment values. Our friend Joe, it seems, has a subtle and wicked (but harmless) sense of humor, that includes a healthy dose of self-deprecation, and we found ourselves smiling often. Who knew?
His graphics are bright and colorful, and we loved the characters... not just their concept and dialogue, but also the style in which they are drawn. It's very simple but effective, like what you might see in a high-end comic strip. Of the personalities, we especially liked Old Ray. But our favorite, of course, was Coconut Gary (as we feel sure he will become for many observant players). As a matter of fact, we now have a 'Pin-Up' involving Gary, which we printed out from the end credits, hanging up in our room. Smile...
There is a varied musical soundtrack that is upbeat and apropos to the area, plus occasional sound effects like waves or seagulls. The interface is very simple and easy to use, just point and click. A right click allows you to select the desired action, and a left click does the action. The small inventory is accessed by clicking on the box at the bottom right of the screen, and some inventory items can be combined. There are only 3 save slots, but they can be overwritten. You can't die in the game, but we would still recommend saving often, just in case the game freezes or something. And we played it at 800x600 in order to see it full screen.
It is a linear game, with the story unfolding and areas opening as the puzzles are solved. And the puzzles are the kind that adventure gamers love. There are no sliders, mazes, or anything timed. They're all just straightforward logic puzzles, based on observation, exploration and inventory. Most are not too difficult, but there were a couple of places where we got stuck and needed a hint.
It isn't a long game, but it isn't really short either. We have played purchased games that are shorter than this one. The story is simple and the puzzles are engaging. Our only real criticism is that we wish it had included a way for the player to manually control the speed of the dialogue.
It's a fun little game, perfect for those times when you need to just kick back and de-stress, and it's one that the whole family can play. We enjoyed it, and we think you will too... just take a look at the trailer. And if you do enjoy it, as we think you will, write to Joe and let him know... perhaps if we encourage him, we can get him to do a sequel, or something.
© December 2009 Mr. Bill and Lela
Developed (2009) by Joe Townsend and Laminated Goat.
Not Rated: Would be rated E for Everyone
Minimum System Requirements:
PC: Pentium Processor; Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / Vista; 32 MB RAM (64 MB Recommended); SVGA Video Card; Sound Blaster or Compatible Sound Card; 57 MB of Free Hard Drive Space; Mouse
Where To Download This Free Game:
Walkthroughs or Hints: