Ben and Ed, set in what appears to be a dystopian Earth chronicling the friendship of a boy and his undead buddy. Unfortunately their adventures are cut short when an evil show master kidnaps them both to create a new hit TV show: Rundead. Starring the first undead as he tackles increasing dangers for your entertainment, and as he tries to reach the end where his young friend is held.
This should be interesting.
I admittedly do have a love-hate relationship with platformer games. I tend to hate the frustration they give me but I do love the challenge as well. I saw some of the gameplay for Ben and Ed while watching some gaming channels on YouTube and the concept intrigued me. Figuring it would be a game I would enjoy, I bought it on a whim and gave it a try myself.
The story the game gives you in the beginning was not really something I had expected. It does however explain a lot of the plot about where and why you are doing the things you do. I actually liked the format they used to tell the story.
That said, your sole motivation of the game is to survive the increasingly sadistic challenges by Hans Showmaster. Who happens to be the mastermind behind the ‘sensational’ show “Rundead” that you are forced to take part in. Ben, the little boy whom you befriended is also part of the motivation of why you duck, jump and suffer missing body parts throughout the challenges.
Since you play as Ed the zombie…your body is not exactly that of an athlete. It also does not stand up to the various lasers and blades very well. Thankfully as Ed is already more or less ‘dead’, missing a few limbs won’t kill you immediately. You can still crawl or hop your way to victory! Or roll….if you lose literally everything minus your head. Either way, you are going to lose a limb or two.
If it comes to the worse, you could just take your head off and chuck it over obstacles and hope for the best. Just remember where you parked your body so you can reattach yourself later. I always did wonder how he still could function after he threw his head like it was a baseball.
The developers were clever in taking into account that Ed is undead, and incorporating that fact into the gameplay itself. As I mentioned, losing limbs do not mean immediate death. It just means you may have a little trouble reaching your next checkpoint or to the end of the level. This can add a degree of creativity and hilarity (or frustration) to your game. At times, losing some limbs are necessary for the sake of progress. Yes, self-mutilation will become a part of your strategy in Ben and Ed. For better or worse.
One part of the gameplay I did not enjoy however, was the occasionally awkward camera angles. You can control the camera with your mouse (or controller if you prefer) but it was often jittery. Moving a mouse too fast, means camera moves at supersonic speed. I never managed to find the right balance on the mouse sensitivity to achieve smooth camera movement. Other times I would be navigating my way through a series of jumps, only to have the camera unexpectedly change on me. I am not a big fan of the ‘forced’ camera angles and what not. It did not kill the vibe or enjoyment of the game, thankfully. It just made completing certain obstacles rather…difficult. There were times that I did notice a drop in the frame rate. Not too sure what was up with that though.
At certain points, you will unlock special challenge rooms as well. They offer a harder challenge for those who may find the main story too easy, which I doubt considering how many times I wanted to smash my keyboard in. Or the times I did slam my fist on my desk in frustration, then quickly regret it when I register the message of pain from my wrist. In the main game itself, you can also unlock bonus rooms which give you a chance to collect more delicious cans of meat if you need them. Normally they will be locked till you find enough of the cans to unlock those bonus levels however.
You can also unlock two special game modes. I forgotten what the second one is at the time of this writing (sorry!!), but the one mode I do remember basically acts as a survival of sorts. The further you go, the more happy viewers you get. Once you die, it will show you the total number of viewers you got before dying. Losing limbs will decrease the viewers I believe. Interesting concept however.
The game does give reality TV game shows a somewhat cynical view, but does give humor in its own dark way. Despite having a simple concept and game mechanics, Sluggerfly did create creepy if not, rather disturbing scenery at certain points. Seeing some of them disturbed me deeply to the point, I became resolved getting through those sections as fast as possible. On occasions, it felt like I was tripping.
The ending was definitely something. I won’t spoil the ending for you. Let’s just say it was not what I was expecting to happen at all.
It is a great game however, and they must be doing something right if I felt genuine sense of accomplishment when I passed a difficult level that frustrated me to no end. I did enjoy how they tried to keep the levels engaging by adding in new challenges and obstacles. As well breaking it up with ‘special’ challenges every five levels. Ben and Ed is about $6USD on the Steam store, I highly recommend those who love platformer games to check the game out!