April 9, 2009

It's Haunted, All Right

It's time to write about another Ben Jordan adventure, Ben Jordan Case 4: Horror at Number 50. This case leads Ben to a haunted house where he, together with his brothers-in-arms - people in the paranormal investigation business, - gets a chance to come face to face with an evil spirit. In the end, the evil is perished and Ben finds good friends.

The plot of Horror at Number 50 is relatively good, even if not that original. Still, I wouldn't say that this is the best of Ben Jordan cases. The problem with the game is that it features an extremely dull gameplay.

Most of the time Ben will have to venture into the same rooms and talk to the same people over and over again. I have nothing against extensive conversation, heck, The Moment of Silence is one of my favorite games only because it boasts with long conversations. Sadly, Ben's fourth case consists of almost nothing but conversations, and they are not good enough to keep things fresh and interesting. Other than talking, there is jack shit to do - no exploration (we get to see the most of the house from the start) and just a few inventory puzzles.

On another matter, the plot has a few inaccuracies and unbelievable moments. For example, the events take place in London, England and Ben is hired by an Englishman. In UK, like in a lot of other European countries, the bottom floor of the building is called the "ground floor" most of the times. And still, Ben's employer refers to the top floor of the four-storey building as the "fourth floor". I can't imagine this happening really. A normal Englishman would have called it the "third floor", because the first floor only comes after the ground floor. In North America though, this is totally different, and the bottom floor is in fact called the first. Francisco Gonzalez, the developer of the game, is American, so he didn't think of this matter. This is sad, cause such small details can make the game more believable.

As for the other weak points, the most unbelievable thing is probably that Ben Jordan manages to break a padlock with a piece of pipe (sorry, but this is hardly a spoiler, the game is really easy). Mr. Miggs, the owner of the house, told that he summoned locksmiths on several occasions, but they were unable to pick that lock. And here comes Ben - why pick the lock if you can break it with a metal pipe? Yeah, locksmiths were too dumb to try that, they only thought of lockpicking. Details, details, everything is in those tiny details. Get them wrong and the whole opinion of the game could be spoiled.

The game still manages (barely) to keep it interesting enough to suffer through the repetitive gameplay to see it to the end. Not the title I would be too fast to recommend, but a nice addition to the series, nonetheless.

There is one very positive thing about the Horror at Number 50 - the interface has been finally re-designed. Everything in the game looks harmonic now.

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