I’ve been playing a lot of adventure games lately. I pretty much completely missed out on all the Scumm stuff, so I tried Secret of Monkey Island (excellent) and Maniac Mansion (less impressive). The Longest Journey is pretty much universally praised, and I’m nominally interested in creator Ragnar Tørnquist’s new MMO The Secret World, so I played that. Then, of course, Ben Ward and Dan Marshall of Zombie Cow‘s latest adventure Time Gentlemen, Please hit the internet, so I downloaded Ben There, Dan That, which is free, and made in Adventure Game Studio. And really, really good.
Ben Chandler’s Heed is also free, made in Adventure Game Studio and really really good, but there any comparisons with the Ben and Dan games pretty much stop. For a start, Heed takes itself extremely seriously. Where Ben and Dan race through madcap adventures so they can be back in time for Magnum P.I., Heed’s nameless protagonist engages in a search for purpose, and something called the Force Source.
It’s sober stuff, but it’s competently written, and contains some fairly unexplored themes (at least when it comes to video games). For once, the quasi-religious stuff isn’t centred around (looks down upon, in fact) any idea of destiny. Life is, in short, what you make of it. Okay, it’s maybe a little shmaltzy, but look at what it has to compete with. It’s neat. It’s also very well drawn, and has a soundtrack consisting of out of copyright recordings, which works very well and is probably the way to go if you want a ‘fessional sounding score with a non-existent budget.
There’s only one cursor and no inventory, which makes puzzles (for me at least, maybe I am an adventure game god) a little simple. They’re mostly centred around chasing a fly around the screen, and talking to ghosts. It’s all well done, but there’s little challenge involved. For the last portion of the game, though, it does a good job of switching things up, and the last puzzle is easily the best.
Heed, then. It’s short, easy, and interesting in a couple of ways. It’s a good way to spend the ten minutes or so that it takes to finish.