An open world romp that includes co-op play, Ben 10: Power Trip is a fun, child friendly adventure. The Finger Guns Review.
The Ben 10 video games have always been pretty enjoyable. It’s a franchise with core tenets that really lend themselves to game mechanics; a 10 year old that can transform into multiple different aliens, all of which have different abilities? The game design practically writes itself. My brood of kids still occasionally dive into the 2017 Ben 10 game from Outright Games but because the game is linear and single player, it has caused its fair share of bickering over who’s turn it is to play and whose save game is whose. With Ben 10: Power Trip, Outright Games and developers PHL Collective have made many parents lives easier by making a child friendly, open world Ben 10 game that also includes co-operative play. It’s just a shame that so much of the game boils down to busy work…
In Ben 10: Power Trip, team Ben are taking a vacation in the Rust Bucket in a European region called Strudelbek when the magician Hex puts an evil plan into action. This plan uses the power of the void to lock Ben (and Kevin) out of their Omnitrix (and Antitrix) which prevents them from transforming into their aliens counterparts. Hex then causes chaos all over Strudelbek by spawning monsters and upsetting the locals by messing when their lives as he searches for 4 ancient crystals. These rocks will give him power over the physical realm and he must be stopped. Ben (& Kevin) set out to help the people of the region while reclaiming the alien transformations that they’ve had stolen in order to stop Hex’s plan.
The overarching narrative in Power Trip is much more cohesive than that of the 2017 game as there’s one main villain and a new series of minions to fight rather than a collection of villains that Ben has to face off against. The story is as deep as an episode of the animated show with a McGuffin to set the scene and a structure which is constantly drip feeding new powers to use in a game world that accommodates them.
The open world of Strudelbek is broken down into 3 areas – A forest with a swap and a village, a city are and a snow covered ski-resort. Studelbek is an impressively large map to play around in, one of the largest I’ve seen in a game aimed at children. Each of the 3 areas have their own main quest line which gradually unlock the alien transformations that have been stolen from the protagonists. While it’s not exactly brimming with life, the open world has hundreds of collectables to pick up, side quests to take on, races to compete in and mini-bosses to overcome, including facing off against Lord Decibel on his dance floors which test the player to avoid hazardous floors and objects.
The game play structure to Ben 10: Power Trip constantly reminded both me and my children of the LEGO games. Each of the aliens that Ben (& Kevin) rescue enable them to pull off new platforming/combat actions to unlock new areas of the map. The first alien you’ll unlock will be Heatblast/Hot Shot who can perform a double jump allowing you to reach higher ledges and can burn down obstacles barring your path. Four Arms/Quad Smack can smash open cracked walls with a quick time even. XLR8/Rush can sprint around the map allowing you to get from A to B quickly or grind on rails/wires to reach otherwise inaccessible places. Diamondhead/Thornblade, Rath/Bashmouth and Shock Rock/Bootleg finish off the 6 strong squad of aliens you can play with once unlocked. Each new alien allows the narrative to progress and allows the player to complete more of the open world activities that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.
Each alien in Ben 10: Power Trip also has unique capabilities during combat. Each of them have their own combo which can combine their normal and strong attacks but some aliens are best suited to taking on certain enemies. Diamonhead is the only alien with a ranged attack and can throw up a shield which will rebound projectiles back to their sender, perfect for the flying enemies that can be difficult to ground, for example. As you complete the main story missions and clear the open world activates, you’ll can unlock upgrades which reduce the damage you take, increase the damage you deal out or increase the chance of a “lucky shot” which is basically a critical hit from every RPG you’ve ever played.
Despite the obvious effort here to give each alien their own combat prowess, all of the fights in Ben 10: Power Trip can be completed with simple button mashing. The most strategic you’ll have to be against the array of 10 or so enemy types in the game (which get their own visual look depending on what area of the game you’re in) is against a big chunky foe which can’t be harmed from the front and must be attacked in the rear. While the simplicity of the combat bored my eldest son, my 7 year old twins enjoyed the fighting in this game because a) the moves look impressive and b) there’s no real penalty for getting defeated. If Ben 10/Kevin 11 run out of health, they simply respawn a little distance away with a full health bar in the same fight. This makes a bit of a mockery of an inventory system that eventually fills with health boosts you’ll never really need but for the younger player, this gives them another system to play around with.
Much of Ben 10: Power Trip has been crafted to be as child friendly as possible. A helpful hint appears above Ben’s head when he’s near a world objects that requires a specific alien to use. None of the puzzles in the game are too onerous and none of them can. become unsolvable. There’s a full vocal track including the TV shows cast starring Tara Strong as Ben, John DiMaggio and even Troy Baker doing several roles here. Having the original cast dictate the story – complete with Ben’s complete indifference to Gwen and eye rolling at Max’s educational tidbits – make it far easier for the younger players to get invested in and understand the story.
Unfortunately, there are a few technical issues with Ben 10: Power Trip. While the inclusion of drop in/out multiplayer is a massive plus for families with multiple children, this game runs very poorly in split screen. The frame rate really chugs along during fast paced set pieces that can make it very difficult to play. There’s also a proximity system which means that if Kevin gets too far away from Ben, he’s instantly transported to Tennyson’s side. The issue here is that during some sections of the game – primarily in the lead up to the 4 boss battles – there are tricky platforming sections that can dump the teleported Kevin into the insta-fail zone below, forcing both characters to respawn.
The other issue that Ben 10: Power Trip faces is that much of the story and side missions are made up of busy work or fetch quests. Need this quest item? Go collect me 10 frogs first. Need my help with this? Go far away and then simply come back again. There’s monsters over there. Go defeat them. There are not many missions in this game that have an exciting framing or offer more than just a collection of waypoints to follow.
But here’s the kicker – you’re still Ben 10. Sure you’re collecting mushrooms for a scientist in order to brew a potion that’ll grow a beard on some Lumberjacks (true story) but you’re doing it as a 4 armed alien. I might be just heading from A to B to C but you’re doing so as XLR8, an alien that speeds like lightning along the floor or on telephone wires. While the pedestrian nature of many of the quests lost the interest of my eldest son early on, the fun of playing as Ben/Kevin kept the attention of my younger 3 kids from start to finish, even with the frame rate issues in co-op.
Ben 10: Power Trip delivers an adult sized game with a child friendly veneer. The co-op might be partially hamstrung with technical issues and a large chunk of the game might feel mundane but this is the best Ben 10 game to date with an open world that kids love to play around in.
Ben 10: Power Trip is launching October 9th, 2020 on PC, PlayStation 4 (reviewed on a base PS4), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: PHL Collective
Publisher: Outright Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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