Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon Review

Quick: make a list of accessories that you’d take along if you were going on an expedition to explore dangerous wildlife up close. What’d you write down? “Shark cage,” maybe? Or “tranquilizer gun?” How about “tetanus shot?” Sure, that’s all good stuff to pack– if you’re not as hardcore as Sir Benfro. Sir Benfro gets up close and personal with weird and wonderful animals, and all he needs is his balloon to carry him through their dangerous habitats.

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon is a difficult game to classify: it’s probably best described as an on-rails exploration game. The titular Sir Benfro floats through four levels to observe the living habits of the odd wildlife that inhabits his world. You won’t find any familiar fauna here, though. You’re going to be keeping an eye out for the likes of the Brackle McSturdy, the Eggbutt Snaffle, and the Stingomp. Here’s a hint: most of these “animals” boast mustaches. When Sir Benfro glides by an creature, it’s automatically recorded in his Spotter’s Guide, and you can read all about its lifestyle.

Shoulda brought a fly swatter

Of course, not all of the animals are happy to let Sir Benfro float by unmolested. Sir Benfro must pass through some busy migration paths, and the wildlife typically doesn’t say, “Oh, pardon me,” and move aside to let him by. The problem with this is that Sir Benfro’s balloon is powered by fireflies–more accurately, “Light Emitting Daves”– and whenever Sir takes a bump, he loses some of his Daves. If he loses them all, his balloon deflates, and it’s game over.

Luckily, there are Daves scattered all over each level, and collecting them is easy. Putting your finger to the iOS screen makes Sir Benfro float along quickly, whereas tapping the screen will slow him down– very handy for when an Oafish is lumbering in your path. Sir Benfro handles the direction of your travel, and you’re in charge of controlling his speed.

Centipede alley.

Unfortunately, this means that Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon more or less confines you to one path, and the whole journey is over with in a few hours. Granted, Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon is not an easy game (the last two levels are quite a challenge), and there are multiple difficulty levels if you really feel like getting Sir Benfro’s handsome black suit dirty. But all in all, this is a much more laid-back title than what’s standard for the App Store.

In fact, Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon sometimes feel like it exists to showcase its graphics and music–though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as both are excellent. The game’s graphics are particularly stunning. The monsters are big, bold, beautifully textured, and wonderfully weird.

Sir Benfro’s Brilliant Balloon may not last long, nor does it offer much beyond its set paths that rarely branch off, but when taken as a whole, the game is a joyful and relaxing experience. Hopefully we’ll see more of Sir Benfro in the future. After all, what kind of explorer calls it quits after one expedition?

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