Zombie Cow – Ben There, Dan That! review

humorous freeware point-and-click adventure
Photo of Zombie Cow – Ben There, Dan That!
£free

Remember the good old days of adventuring, when we monkeyed around on islands and tried to prevent the purple tentacle from having his day? Those LucasArts adventures stood out for their production values and humour. Ben There, Dan That attempts to turn back the clock and relive the laughs, slightly strange puzzles and above all the sarcastic wit of the classics.

And it does it with style. The humour is even drier and in a more adult vein, with plenty of risqué gags, not to mention in-jokes about video games and much breaking (or rather demolishing) of the fourth wall. The geeky references come thick and fast, from Half Life through to Star Wars and even The Two Ronnies (yes, you read that correctly).

While the script might be polished, the visuals themselves are deliberately crude and retro looking, which in itself is a vehicle for further jokes. When you enter a toilet and examine the broken mirror, the central characters (Ben and Dan, the creators of the game themselves) point out how the mirror had to be smashed, because it would’ve been far too much like hard work to render proper reflections. If there’s one thing this adventure is, it’s genuinely funny.

And the puzzle design is likeably logical. There’s the odd more tricky head-scratching affair from time to time, but for the main part the solutions are straightforward, and hints are often dropped when you examine objects (not to mention plenty of jokes about how players rarely look at items before they pick them up).

We’ve always thought that it’s better to err on the easy-going side rather than risk frustration, so the pitch of the difficulty suited us fine. And if you do get stuck, there’s a handy guide on the developers’ web site which doesn’t give away complete spoilers, just some heavy hints.

Ben There, Dan That isn’t a very lengthy adventure, but it’s definitely a lot of old school point-and-clicking fun while it lasts. The average player will probably take around four hours to complete it, maybe slightly longer depending on how much clicking and examining they do (and how quick they are to consult the guide when stuck).

But it’s not surprising that it isn’t a vast sprawling universe when you consider that this is a freeware game. At that price, there’s really no reason not to download it and give it a crack yourself. And if you like the adventure, be sure to donate just a little cash to the authors on the Zombie Cow web site.

Company: Zombie Cow


Verdict
A very witty and well balanced retro adventure, bringing back memories of Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island, Sam & Max and many other classics, with a new, more adult twist. And they're not even charging for it.