xbox live indie game reviews

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Worth the Points

Can't Shake the Old Ball and Chain

Bennu is a quirky, lovable little puzzle game peppered with Egyptian mythology. You play as the title character, Bennu, a bird-like creature (similar to a phoenix) who inhabits the afterlife. He wields the Sphere of Ra and the Chains of Osiris, swinging and rolling around the world and solving puzzles along the way.

This game is an enjoyable exercise in physics and momentum, definitely refreshing in the wake of many formulaic side-scrolling puzzle games. You're constantly swinging throughout the levels like Spiderman, grasping at walls, platforms and ledges as you knock blocks out of the screen. When you're grounded, you can also roll around and clear the blocks out of your path by bouncing into them, provided that they're the same color as Bennu's flame.


As for the visuals, the graphics are pretty solid in a kitschy, cartoonish way. The storyline intro, for example, is told by what I will call 'hieroglyphic marionettes'. The level design also reflects the same style, with pyramid-like stones and a general Pixar-like quality. Colors are vivid, but muted, as if to reflect the archaic nature of the environment. Overall, it's a well-styled work of art.

 

The only part of Bennu that I didn't particularly care for was the responsiveness of the controls. Though they were usually quite reliable, there were a few times where I just didn't feel like the swinging mechanic was implemented correctly. In some cases, you can merely press up on the analog to start the upswing, completely defying gravity along the way. This led to some confusion on my part, often leaving me hanging in mid-swing as I attempted to roll Bennu back and forth to create momentum for his intended route. While I was usually able to overcome this, there were some instances (e.g. getting stuck in a crevice too far down to attach a chain to the ceiling) where this game mechanic grated my nerves more than a little bit.


Despite the occasionally clunky controls, Bennu is an innovative look at block-busting puzzle games. The swinging mechanic is really quite enjoyable, as is Bennu's ability to roll in a goofy-yet-useful manner. The game clearly has a sense of humor about itself (think Katamari-style dialogue), with the marionettes popping in to make little quips, such as “all your blocks are belong to us”. I definitely enjoyed my time playing this title and would recommend it to any avid puzzle game enthusiast.

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XBox Live Indie Games Reviews