The Ben 10 franchise returns to videogames with the release of Ben 10: Power Trip. Published by the family friendly publishing house that is Outright Games and developed by PHL Collective, we took a look at the PlayStation 4 version of the game. The game is also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
Ben 10 games have been around for close to 15 years already, making it one of the most enduring franchises in family-friendly videogaming. I think I saw them pop up back in the PS2 days and remember playing the Galactic Racing kart racer on the Vita as well, and I believe that a lot of the success of the franchise is about how it’s embraced a variety of gameplay styles over the years, from racing to platforming and even MMOs. The games have never been critically acclaimed – often on account of being too generic – but the diversity certainly keeps things fresh for a dedicated audience.
Ben 10: Power Trip is no different, and it adopts an open world gameplay structure that is rare to see in a kid-friendly game – and it’s applied in a way that mostly works out well. It’s a lot less linear than previous Ben 10 games, but the main character still fits very well with his ability to morph into different aliens in order to access different abilities. And what’s perhaps most exciting in terms of enjoying the game with a family member – Power Trip includes the ability to play cooperatively.
The plot will sound bizarre for parents, but kids will certainly appreciate seeing Ben and Kevin face off against the magician Hex, who messes with their vacation with his plans to wreak havoc and gain access to all-powerful crystals that will give him power over the physical world as we know it. Over the course of the story you regain your abilities (much to the delight of fans of the show) – thus also naturally evolving the gameplay mechanics by granting you access to new locations.
The story plays out in a region called Strudelbek, which is an open world that features three distinct areas. There’s a wooded area, a snow-covered resort and a more urban environment, all of which are featured in the main story but also have plenty of unlockables and mini-games to interact with – which included things like racing and rhythm-based battles.
Progress is handled through the use of new abilities, which includes things like a double jump and the ability to knock down walls that stand in your way. Other tricks include a short burst of speed that helps you get past obstacles that are on a timer, and each one of your transformations also gives you access to unique combat mechanics – which can also be upgraded over time as you enhance how resistant or strong you are in defense or attack.
These all sound like adult mechanics on paper, but PHL has made sure that Ben 10: Power Trip remains accessible for children as well – with combat not too unlike that in games like Skylanders, where mashing buttons goes a long way to success. Transforming between your different alien forms is also made intuitive by showing on-screen hints as to which alien you need and a lot of the puzzles being solvable through trial and error. As a result it’s nothing too thrilling for older players who might find things repetitive after a while despite the diverse gameplay, but it’s a formula that will keep younger fans invested and interested. What also helps in that regard is that the game is fully voiced by original actors from the series, which adds a layer of authenticity to the game that I appreciated even though I’ve only heard the show playing in the distance myself.
Perhaps that best part about the game is that it can be played in co-op locally though, enabling parents to partner up with and/or support their children who are playing the game. This mode struggled a bit on a plain PS4, but fared much better on a PlayStation 4 Pro – telling us that the game needs a bit of an optimization patch to make sure everyone gets the same cooperative experience.
Assuming that little issue gets fixed, this is a more than solid choice if you’re looking to play games together with the family over the holidays, which I’m guessing more of us will be spending at home this year.