Sam is a half man, half dog and Max is a rabbit that seeks to kill all life and they are both freelance police. While this term loosely means something along the lines of “detective” it ends up being more along the lines of Scooby-Do with guns and anger issues. This month’s installment has to do with the disappearance of the local shop keep and all around conspiracy theorist Bosco, also time-travel… and paradoxes; thus managing to become the best episode this season.
While most Sam and Max games play passing lip service to all of the episodes that have come before it, Chariots of the Dogs relies very heavily on the player knowing exactly what has happened this season up to this point. In almost any other game this would probably be a terrible idea to alienate someone new to an experience, but with the episodic set up (a new 3 to 4 hour game a month instead of a much longer experience) it finally feels like the games are becoming more like an “episode” of something instead of trying to come across as a standout experience.
With the shift finally made away from an awkward first several minutes of the game introducing all of the supporting cast and their loose functions in the games and more towards the amazing writing and substance of the unpredictable world that our heroes inhabit the this episode finally finds a place of its own. With direct nods at every single episode that has come before in this season, it feels like this was the game that Telltale had in them when they started out doing this project, and they have delivered.
Although Sam and Max have delivered everything that could possibly be wanted by the most hardcore of the hardcore fans, the problem is created that anyone who has never played a Sam and Max game may want to stay completely away from this version of the game. Previous versions of the game have left helpful reminders of whom key characters in the game’s plot were, with this iteration of the game those reminders have been completely removed with the expectation placed firmly on the gamer to know exactly who everyone is and how they tie into the plot. Since the entire collect of games is distributed primarily on Gametap for the low price of one month’s membership this isn’t really a problem.
While many of the script points can be touted up and down one consistent issue with the game is the dated look of the graphics. While an argument can be made that the game’s look is more stylized than others to create a lasting feel they just end up feeling dated instead. While this is a very surface level complaint of the game and has no real effect on the generous amounts of joy received from the game it doesn’t affect the core, but the game still looks pretty bad.
One of the greatest feats of episodic content is that the same engine is used from game to game, lowering the amount of time between games. While this does not normally mean anything for the end consumer it does with Sam and Max in the way of settings. After playing several of these and finely tweaking both the graphics and the amount of helpful hints that are doled out through the progress of the game it is nice to notice that I will never have to back into the settings ever again to adjust them as they are already set.
The voice acting for the fourth game is the same high quality delivery as every other game in the series. This episode sees the addition of a musical number that while ending rather tragically is one of the more amusing things that has been done with these characters as of today. With every single piece of dialog in the game containing voice it seems rather interesting to think about how long some of the voice actors are kept inside a recording studio in any given month.
Amazingly every single episode of Sam and Max can be played on Gametap for the price of a one month subscription (10 dollars). The games themselves only range between 3 and 4 hours total in length and there are only 6 episodes in any given season the entire season can be easily played through in one month’s time. The other way to procure a season is directly through Telltale Games’ website for the reasonable price of 35 dollars for a season’s pass, which is allows the player to keep the games forever instead of losing them when the Gametap subscription runs out.
The pacing of Sam and Max has never been more spot on than with this episode. The help dialog from Sam is direct about what needs to be done next without making the gamer feel like an idiot for not figuring out all of the cartoon logic. If these wittily funny hints aren’t enough there is a walk through available on day one of the game’s release that is linked to directly ever time the game is started.
The value of Season 2 of Sam and Max grows every month, and with the addition of Chariots of the Dogs this season has finally tipped the scales and is a worth purchase for any fan of slap-stick humor adventure games. While is probably not the episode that anyone should use to introduce a new coming to the series with it is a love note to all of the fans out there that have been playing the series month to month and holding their breath after each season ends. While this is the game that every Sam and Max fan has wanted for some time now it raises the bar for next month’s game as well. This season has finally tipped the scales into a must buy for anyone, regardless if you get it through Gametap or Telltale directly.