One of 2015′s Best Indie Titles – Ben and Ed Review (PC)
Steam Greenlight has long been a broken promise. No longer a place for creativity to show itself, the platform is largely made up of trolling submissions and Youtube bait. There’s the odd title that proves there’s hope in the system. Creativity titles that ooze character and charm, while proving some smart game mechanics. Ben and Ed is a perfect example of this.
Developed by Sluggerfly, Ben and Ed is simple concept executed brilliantly. Part of the ever expanding ‘Runner’ genre, Bed and Ed takes the core concept of the genre and adds it’s own wonderful twist. The game centres around a young boy called Ben, and his Zombie pal Ed. Ben is captured and used as bait in order for Ed to take part in a devious reality TV show. Ed must get through various deadly assault courses in order to rescue Ben, and entertain the viewers.
It may sound rather simplistic, but the way in which Sluggerfly uses ED’s undead state adds a smart twist to the gameplay. Ed can take damage from various obstacles, robbing him of which ever limb is affected. It does not result in death however, Ed can continue to push missing his arms, feet or entire body. This is where things get creative and hilarious.
The core gameplay mostly involves jumping obstacles and timing movements correctly. Gameplay is enhanced by various abilities and Ed’s disposal. Cutting legs off to navigate enclosed areas, ripping his head off to throw at buttons across a room make up just a few of his skills. Each courses makes use of all his abilities, be it optional or required to progress.
Self mutilation is a legitimate strategy, although it does come with a catch. At time, some obstacles are easier to manoeuvre with a leg or two missing. The downside comes in the form of missing out ‘the perfect run’. Players wishing to just get through each course will revel in slicing themselves up to gain an advantage. Perfectionists looking for a challenge will find a worthy task in trying to keep themselves together.
Witnessing Ed’s limbs fly off, forcing him to crawl towards the goal is genuinely hilarious. Be it using his arms as legs, or wiggling forward like a worm, the mechanic never gets old. It offers legitimate changes to gameplay, but it also keeps things visually appealing. There’s a undeniable comedy factor in trying to finish course with only Ed’s head rolling towards the goal.
Character is one area in which Ben and Ed shines. It’s slightly cynical take on reality TV game shows provides a dark snigger. Even with a minimal dialogue, Sluggerfish has managed to craft a rather unsettling world. The use of audio and imagery produces nightmarish and trippy experiences. It’s mad, brilliant and effective.
Ben and Ed is a genuinely slice of magic. The simple concepts work fantastically, with tight controls and gameplay working in tandem. It’s only faults are the odd drop in frame rates, but beyond that it’s a utter joy to play. Strong visuals and brilliant music add extra worth to the overall package. For it’s admission price of £6.99, you cannot go wrong with Ben and Ed.