It all comes together nicely
Sam is a dog that carries a gun which he very much enjoys using. Max is a rabbit thing that threatens to kill on a moment to moment basis. At some point in their past the world that they inhabit became entirely dependent on them stopping/solving crimes to continue on. The only odd thing about this is the conviction that everyone in the game has that this is entirely the only way things can continue. In this latest installment Sam and Max travel into the depths of hell to retrieve a friend’s soul and set right all of the events that have gone wrong throughout the season.
This last episode manages, across the board, to be the best, most well designed, and most well thought out of any episode in the season. Every single area in the episode is latten with small stabs at random culture, from obscure references to the video game industry to random songs from the 80’s, the game simply oozes cleverness from its pores.
That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t have its weak moments, because the same flaws as previous episodes are still present and accounted for. For some reason, though, even the largest repeat offender, the graphics, seem to have an extra layer of polish this time around. While they still by no means great or even up to date with current game releases they seem to have taken the chance to stylize every little thing about the new environments and stylize them beyond what previous versions of the game involved.
The other large offender has always been the learning curve of the game, mainly because most of the puzzles involve some kind of random cartoon logic that requires a job making the game to fully understand. Thankfully the game’s always ready hint dispenser, Max, seems more direct than ever. This is a rather interesting mechanic in the game as it retains all of the settings, namely frequency of hints, from the previous episode. Sadly even Max’s direct hints aren’t always enough to solve some of the puzzles involved in the game, such as the last puzzle. When viewed directly as the final boss of this season it stands to reason that it would be the most difficult series of events to figure out, but when viewed as a gamer it is hard to understand why a puzzle that, unless the player is gifted in sideways obscure logic directed at the Sam and Max world, is nearly impossible to solve without consulting the walkthrough.
The walkthrough itself is a rather handy device. A link comes with the game that links the user directly to the official game walkthrough. While this is always available from the moment the game is released it has normally been habit of mine to play through the game using it as little, if not at all, as possible. With several puzzles in this episode being feeling almost impossible to solve the walkthrough seemed to present itself over and over again. It should be pointed out that even though the walkthrough is simply an extra included with the game that isn’t needed it is still as cleverly written and oddly referential as the game itself and points out rather obscure and interesting things about the game.
The game still proves to be amazingly well voice acted after 2 full seasons. At no point in has any of the voice acting, which takes place for any dialog that happens in the game, slipped from being amazing and spot on. With an ever growing cast of recurring characters it is good to know that Telltale still manages to fill all of the slots with clever cast members to deliver their wittily humorous lines.
Telltale manages to deliver each one of the games, after the season has started, every month. The easiest, and possibly most affordable, way to gather the games is to purchase a one month subscription to Gametap. In that one month the entire series of games can simply be downloaded and played through while the subscription is still good. The other way is to go to Telltale’s website and purchase a single episode, or the more advised way considering the quality of this season, pay for the entire season. The purchase of the entire season can be done before it even starts and episodes can be downloaded as they come out.
Considering the options on playing the games the best way to experience this entire season is to probably play through one episode a month at leisure. The reason for this is that any more amount of condensed play, as I found out this season, has a weird effect on the way that you start to look at the world and wondering why it doesn’t work in crazy cartoony ways. Also it has the adverse effect, when playing the games without the help of the amazingly witty guide, of causing a kind of Sam and Max fatigue. The games are released once a month for a reason, mainly to give gamers time to think about the bizarre puzzles and to come back to it after some strange switch that solves things for no real reason flips.
While it is rather hard to call this episode out as being the best in the season without pointing directly at every other episode and explaining that they are firmly the reasons it is like that, this is simply the best of the bunch. While at no time should this episode be played without going through all of the previous iterations it is possibly the best and most rewarding ending to an otherwise amazingly clever and well paced experience. Here’s hoping that next season can find a way to be even better.