Set against a vampire who desires a legion of the undead to worship his odd habits in a gothic night Sam and Max return once again to save our world. Our heroes return again with more spot on comic timing, a uniquely irrelevant interactive world, and quirky puzzles to please even the most devote fans. Although newcomers will probably find the uneven difficulty and vague in-jokes to be confusing, it is for the best to simply stick through it and find the true heart of the game.
Following hot on the heels of the last episode Sam and Max, newly returned to their office, learn of a zombie attack currently taking place. Naturally they feel rather non-pulsed by the entire experience until one of the walking dead wanders into their office and proceeds to steal one of the many souvenirs from past adventures. This is the strongest point of the Sam and Max games; the world that Sam and Max live in is a continuing character in every zany, nonsensical episode.
What is continually the low point of this game is the dated looking graphics that have yet to be improved from any chapters of the game. While the advantages of continually using the same engine over and over allows for timely, almost monthly releases, it does mean that the way the game looks hasn’t improved since Episode 101 came out a year and a half ago with then dated graphics.
It should be pointed out that the graphics rarely ever get in the way of the actual gameplay; the items that can be picked up are normally distinctly marked and defined well enough from the rest of the level to notice. The only real problem is during one of the many dialog moments when some of the characters stop looking like intelligent creatures and start looking like emotionless dollars delivering amazingly fun lines of dialog.
The dialog itself is possibly one of the greatest highlights of the game. Almost everything in the environment can be clicked on for at least a one liner while others can cause a string of insanity driven remarks back and forth from the uniformed dog, Sam, and the blood thirsty rabbit, Max. Talking to every character in the game never feels like a chore as most of the interactions are entertaining enough to illicit a full conversation with any character that will stand around and talk back.
Although the most talkative character in the game turns out to secretly be Max. While the last Sam and Max game, for me, felt well balanced enough with its difficulty of puzzles this edition seems to be rather difficult. The game handles this in two ways, in game hints and a full walkthrough that is available the day the game comes out. Turning on the in game hints consists of clicking one of several buttons pertaining to how many hints Max throughs out and how quickly he does so, the lowest being none and the highest, “constantly”, consists of Max basically saying exactly what you should do next. Although there are several puzzles that seem to boil down to knowing what to do but not how to do it, thus the walkthrough provided day and date on the website.
This does mark the first time, for a Sam and Max game, that I needed to seek help in solving some of the various puzzles throughout the game. One of them was obscure enough to reference back to the last game, Episode 202, and expect the player to figure out that Max, the rabbit with the urge to kill, could bless water. This is probably bizarre enough to stump almost any sane person.
It seemed rather odd that when the writing for this episode of Sam and Max got much better, than it was in the last, that the solutions would become more and more odd-ball. The problem was not that the puzzles themselves didn’t feel like they were the correct answer in the world that Sam and Max live but instead that there was no way to figure them out if one’s mind wasn’t entirely part of the world that the two constantly lived in.
While this world has been coming out on a regular, episodic basis for almost two full seasons now there are several ways that one can obtain the experience. The first is by going to Gametap and paying the fee for one month. One month is all that you need to experience the entire game from season 1 episode 1 to the currently release, doing this will also get those with an up to date subscription the game a day or so earlier than everyone else. The other is by buying the downloadable version directly from Telltale Games’ website. All versions of the game are rather reasonably priced and a “Season’s pass” can be bought, either before the season starts or midway through.
Sam and Max continue to deliver humorous adventures on a monthly basis. While this is probably one of the more difficult games that they have released recently it is also one of the most fulfilling in terms of story. While the game does continue to have the same flaws as every other, the series as a hole is coming more and more into itself and fleshing out the world that our heroes live in. Episode 203 is an easy recommendation to any person, because in all honesty what other game can you find a giant stone head of Abraham Lincoln as an important side character?