Ben Was Assimilated is a short, turn based hack’n slash game.
The game is pretty straightforward: By using the arrow keys you navigate through a 2D top-down world. When you act in any way all enemies on the map will act as well and either move or – if they are in range – attack you. You can pick up and use weapons that get gradually stronger in terms of attack strength, area of effect, and durability, as well as armor upgrades and health.
The amount of weapons you can carry is limited to one melee and one range weapon; if you die, your current loadout is dropped, and you might need to backtrack and fetch some earlier, weaker items to be able to regain your stuff, and at the start of the game some enemies give you a hard time to outmaneuver them – but this gets easier as your attack range increases later on. Don’t expect much tactical deepness, rather a carnage through masses of enemies – but the fighting is fun enough to carry through the game without getting boring. There are some difficulty spikes and a certain, intended harshness to the gameplay, but in general everything is very achievable – especially since there are many checkpoints and lives aren’t limited in any way while enemies stay slayed.
The 2D art and the atmosphere of the world are charming and a bit reminiscent of the NES and Gameboy „Zelda“-games – but everything is a bit simpler and rawer. The SFX is convenient, the music is well done and smartly used – at certain points of the game it changes and helps a lot to establish or underline certain moods, making the experience much more vivid.
There isn’t much story in the direct sense of the word – except a few lines of dialog and a few sentences from your character from time to time you won’t get any information about the events or the world – but there is a big twist towards that got me not only absolutely cold, but makes this game really unique. I don’t want to spoil to much, but it might be interpreted as a opening of questions about the logic of video games, violence, the interaction of individuals with their environment, and the purpose of their doings.
Ben Was Assimilated is a robustly realized game that not only hold onto its promises – the main gameplay loop is fun, the aesthetics are nice, and the execution feels fluid – but outgoes them in some aspects: The „break“ featured in this game is radical, surprising and a prime example for what underground productions can offer, as things like these are unlikely to be done by even small commercial orientated studios that usually don’t want to risk alienating their customers with such stuff.
The game is realized with GameMaker, and open source – but not free software. The browser-version worked without any problems on Firefox/OpenSuse Thumbleweed. The developer, Edward Atkin, did various other games worth to check out – among them a (seemingly) rather traditional Metroidvania, but also very experimental titles (among them a typing trainer game that lets you reproduce „Ulysses“).