Ben There, Dan That

Excellent insulting, well done.

Looking at you, I’d say what you need just now is an adventure game to play. Too many E3 videos and arguing in comments threads about things that ultimately just don’t matter has left you gaunt and frightened. It’s okay. It’s oooookay. Get yourself some Ben There, Dan That. (I can’t bear that they put an exclamation mark at the end of the title, so I’m pretending they didn’t – Dan, you’re a writer for heaven’s sake).

Created by Dan Marshall and his best friend Ben Ward (Zombie Cow Studios), it’s an AGS adventure which features some stand-out writing. And some pretty nifty 2D old-timey animation too. The game features, well, Dan Marshall and his best friend Ben Ward, the two of them stuck on an alien vessel after a botched attempt to fix the television to watch Magnum PI.

Curse you Monkey Island references.

It’s a sharp and funny collection of knowing and sarcastic references to the cliches of old-school adventure gaming, which is actually a fairly impressive feat. Far too many games are now collections of eye-rolling references to how silly it is to pick up everything, and the ludicrous nature of clicking the bucket on the hedgehog to make a windmill or whatever – the biggest problem being: THE GAMES FROM THE EARLY NINETIES MADE THE SAME JOKES THEN! Lordy lawks, everyone thinks they’re being so terribly clever for pointing out that a ladder can’t fit in an inside pocket, as if Space Quest wasn’t already mocking itself for this twenty years ago (yes, twenty). Anyway, point being, BTDT makes all these jokes without being patronising, or acting as if it’s genius for having thought of them. If anything, it’s the post-ironic approach, celebrating what we all already acknowledge.

Perhaps it occasionally goes too far with the in-joke adventure references (seriously, that’s enough references to Monkey Island everybody), but thankfully it supports these by thinking of original puzzles of its own. The highlight for me is the enormous dedication to unnecessary gags, with lines written for the most ridiculous of things you might choose to do (like clicking Dan on the moon, for instance). There’s also a decent use of timing, with pauses before the written dialogue appears (although this is of course incredibly annoying when you accidentally trigger the same response a second time).

My favourite exchange comes when using Dan on himself:

Ben: There’s no way I’m allowing Dan to interact with himself. Who knows where it’d lead.

Dan: Wanking

Zombies: check

The game’s free, which is my favourite of the prices, but of course you’re welcome to donate if you enjoy it. However, as Zombie Cow point out, “We’ve had over 1300 downloads so far, and raised £10.” So bloody well give them some money, you tight-pocketed sods. How many games are you making for free, eh?

70 Comments

  1. Radiant says:

    Wait what?!?!
    LAMP POST!
    HELP ME!

  2. John Walker says:

    Wow, we really need to implement spoiler tags, don’t we?

  3. Radiant says:

    @ Jnyxre Anu jr’er tbbq.
    @ Rirelbar ryfr BU PUEVFG URYC ZR JVGU GUVF CBFG!

  4. Vasara says:

    I was stuck on the lamp post for a while as well, but it’s not that hard when you stop and think about it.

    Uvag uvag: Lbh arrq n gbby gung lbh pna phg zrgny jvgu. Vg jnf bar bs gur guvatf crbcyr va gur “qnex ntrf” hfrq gb hfr, onpx jura gurl unq ab Lnat cbjref.

    Spoiler tags would be lovely, yes.

  5. Okami says:

    I liked how the game just ends and drops you back to windows after the ending credits..

  6. Fazer says:

    I’m stuck and need serious help (spoilers ahead).

    I’ve read somewhere you need a can-opener to cut the lamppost, but I don’t know where can I find it (opener, not lamppost).

  7. Fazer says:

    Spoilerish:

    How can I obtain the spanner?

  8. Radiant says:

    @Fazar Vasara gave you the answer:
    Vg’f va bar bs gur rkuvovgf va gur fhcre zhfrhz.
    Guvf tnzr jnf znqr ol onfgneqf!

  9. Fazer says:

    @ Radiant: Ubj qb V trg gb gur fhcre zhfrhz?
    V fgvyy qba’g unir nal vqrn ubj pna V ernpu gur fcnaare.

  10. thezombiecow says:

    There’s now a Digg for BTDT, via me.

    If you love it, will you Digg it, please??

  11. Radiant says:

    Qb lbh xabj jurer gur fcnaare vf?
    Unir lbh qbar gur qvabfnhef?
    Gurer vf n frperg qbbe va gur uho gung nccrnef nsgre gur qvab jbeyq [vg’f orgjrra gjb qbbef vg’f rnfl gb zvff] va gurer vf n pebjone [VG’F GUR BAYL GUVAT GB QB VA GURER; VTABER GUR YVTUGF] tb gb gur svfu naq sevrf naq erzbir gur cynax sebz gur qbbef. Hfr gur cynax gb pebff gur ynin.

    rg ibvyn fcnaare

  12. Radiant says:

    The problem with that door is that you’re disparaged for looking at the other details on the wall so when the door appears you don’t notice it or you ignore it.

  13. Fazer says:

    @ Radiant: Netu, V fjrne V gevrq hfvat gur pebjone ba gur Svfu ‘a’ Sevrf jvaqbj naq qbbe, ohg ur jbhyqa’g qb nalguvat! V’z tbvat onpx gb OGQG.

  14. Fazer says:

    I’ve beat it. Sadly, these days I hate adventures, but that one was neato! Lots of laughing, rather logical yet challenging puzzles. Good luck in creating more games, Zombie-Cow!

  15. Ted says:

    The writing was a bit hit and miss (stupid ending) but good game overall. I’m not getting a paypal account just to give these guys money, but if they set up a more straightforward way to donate I would.

  16. Gap Gen says:

    Just finished this. Good work, guy(s)! Impressive amounts of dialogue for every possible interaction.

  17. 02sheslop says:

    Wow, first adventure game i’ve ever completed without having to look at hints.

    I’m pretty chuffed with that.

  18. Fazer says:

    I’ve already donated them, Ted, for a price of a standard indie game from Steam ;-) PayPal is really easy to use, just write the amount of money, click on a confirmation button and that’s it. You should give it a try ;-)

  19. Darren Mullen says:

    Oh my warmed soul.
    This game has made me excited about adventures again. More so than Tell Tales Monkey Island.
    Mostly because it features Curran, Byron and McCarthy (It might have been the exclamation mark.)

  20. oceanclub says:

    I finished it! One of the few adventures I’ve ever finished (last one was Broken Sword on the GBA). Funny, and logical puzzles – two things most adventures forget about.

    Now for the sequel….

    P.