Game Review: Sam & Max Season Two
Release: August 2008 (U.S. Only)
Genre: Point-and-click Adventure
Developer: Telltale Games
Available Platforms: PC
ESRB Rating: T
Sam & Max Season Two is a compilation of episodic games based on the highly popular Sam & Max comic series created by Steve Purcell. It follows the adventures of private detective Sam and his sidekick Max as they solve various mysteries involving wacky and outrageous plot lines including taking a trip to hell, stopping a volcanic eruption, and putting a end to a European zombie apocalypse.
The game plays out much in the way most point-and-click games do, and borrows heavily other ideas from games such as Broken Sword, although changed for their own intention. The basic idea is the player enters a scene, finds objects to help progress to game/story, and then moves onto the next scene. You click on the scenery and characters to find out what you need. A lot of the time we are treated to a dialogue, and I don’t use the word “treat” for flowery terminology.
Etched deep within the Sam & Max series is a humour and wit that rivals the best of them. Intelligent language, jokes and humour, and brilliant voice acting from the main cast, make this a joy to watch as well as play.
Don’t be lead to believe (by the cartoon-style art direction) that this game is for knee biters. The puzzles can be difficult to solve, the solution almost never being stared at in the eyes, more like it’s hiding curled in a ball behind a joke and some head scratching. You need to think outside the box with this game, look at every option from every angle, in order to solve each puzzle. I’m not saying they’re all difficult, or else I should seriously consider another pastime (perhaps embroidery), but it’s not an easy game. We have learned as gamers though, with thanks to games like Braid, that graphical style does not determine ease of gameplay.
I need to point out that the game doesn’t sit perfectly on my shelf next to games such as Portal. Not due to slanting woodwork of any kind, but the game itself seems a bit [insert slouching sound] by todays standards. The gameplay mechanic itself is old and outdated, point-and-click isn’t exactly exciting to be involved in. With the enjoyment and wit you get from cutscenes and dialogue trees, I feel sometimes the game would sit better as a T.V. series for kids these days, rather than a video game. Unless the next season is taken in a new direction, nostalgia and fanboyism will be all that’s keeping it alive.
This game sits well with games of it’s kind, but in a fast moving industry it seems moving along with it wasn’t an option for the development team. The humour is there along with the voice acting and sound (jazz music for the win), but what is sometimes genius in this game seems to be held back by the gameplay itself. If point-and-click is your thing, or you love Sam & Max, perhaps this will be worth your time. If neither of the two apply to you, play something else.