You may remember Ben and Dan from their last adventure, Ben There, Dan That. If you don’t, we’d recommend downloading and playing that freeware nugget before dipping your toes into this follow-up. Time Gentlemen Please carries on roughly where the prequel left off, with the discovery that the future selves of programmers Ben and Dan are the architects of the world’s destruction.
It’s another comedy point-and-click adventure, this time with an even more improbable plot involving time travel, the invention of coathangers, Hitler and an army of dinosaur clones. It’s weird, odd, strange, occasionally tasteless and relentlessly amusing.
The script is positively peppered with chuckle-inducing lines. As with the previous game, there are tons of geeky and programming related gags, sci-fi references and quips about the plot of this sequel making absolutely no sense whatsoever.
It’s seriously polished in the humour stakes, and what shines through is the effort put into covering every single possible combination or action. If you try to combine random objects, you won’t just get a simple “That won’t work”: instead the main characters will produce some sort of wisecrack about why you would possibly want to use a spanner on a camel.
Most actions in the adventure have some sort of clever line or joke attached to them, and if the devil’s in the detail, this is one point-and-clicker that’s hanging around in the 666th layer of Hell. That’s the very bottom one. So we’re told.
It also helps that the puzzles in Time Gentlemen Please are designed with similar care. They’re never too obscure, and hints to the solutions are dropped here and there in a generally subtle fashion. A spoiler example (skip this and the following paragraph if you don’t want one puzzle ruined): Dan needs some wheels for his skateboard, and he finds a robot leg with wheels on it, but sadly nothing to prise them off. It’s fairly obvious that the leg needs to be aged in a nearby time capsule so it falls to pieces to get the wheels off, but when this plan is enacted nothing happens: the super-strong metal resists decay.
Now in the next room there’s a leak in the roof, which at first we didn’t pay any attention to until Dan commented about the dripping and his wet head (a joke followed, we forget exactly what). Then it clicked with us: if the robot leg is wet, it will rust to pieces when the time capsule is activated, and indeed it does.
The puzzles are pitched so adeptly that they’re almost always satisfying to solve with nary a hint of frustration. This fact, plus all the laughs, the slabs of layered-on sarcasm and the wonderfully off-the-wall plot, make Time Gentlemen Please a joy to meander through.
Yes, meander. You’ll actually want to click on all the stuff and listen to the jokes. It’s also lengthier than the original Ben There, Dan That, and even though it isn’t freeware this time round, the game’s still an absolute steal at three quid.
Company: Zombie Cow