When Telltale games – the last real bastion of the point-and-click adventure genre – closed in 2018, I met it with a shrug and a wry smile – a few less TV/movie franchise video game adaptions would probably a good thing for the world, or so I thought.
It turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong, as they were also responsible for three games in the Sam and Max series, which – having only just discovered myself by receiving a review code for Sam and Max: Save The World – is like stumbling upon a gold mine that had me re-evaluating my life’s priorities – What kind of sorcery kept me from not knowing a game with humour that so perfectly suited me?
Such is the beauty of video games though; just when you think you’ve seen it all, you get offered a weasel on a stick.
Remastering the first two titles for current consoles is Skunkape games (a small collection of Telltale developers) and thank goodness they have, because these sociopathic crime-fighters – one 6ft fedora-wearing dog and one 3ft sadistic rabbit – and their irreverent self-conscious banter is patently genius, and so frequently tickled me pink that I would intentionally fail the game’s scenarios just to re-experience their hilariousness.
There is familiarity in a re-occurring main street with the same side characters and a developing story, but the absurdity of the scenario, of each conversation and every line aims to please, and as such exploring every item and every conversation choice is a must.
Sure, certain scenarios are better than others, but most, if not all, will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat and on the verge of laughing out loud, such as Sam and Max filling in as actors on a failing and scriptless sitcom where the plot requires two cowboys to convince their chicken landlord that they aren’t keeping a cow in their city apartment. Stringing along the scenario with a fowl primadonna co-star who doesn’t always take kindly to your unexpected quips is offbeat and amazing.
You also have run-ins with mafiosos that wear comically large dog heads, the president, and cosmic beings on your way to ‘saving’ the world, which is actually more like conquering it with the duo causing more collateral damage than a Marvel movie.
Sam and Max’s humour is right up my alley – an ironic parody of detectives, a stage comedy of sorts that hosts Sam and Max like dual deadpan stand ups, where the journey is as unpredictable as the next conversation.
Perhaps one of the reasons I never quite took to the older Lucasarts-esque point-and-click games were that the claustrophobic 2D visuals never quite made it seem like you were playing outside of one scene on your tiny computer monitor, but while you won’t be under any illusion about the type of game you are playing here, the vibrant 3D visuals feel far more expansive and are aided by varied gameplay such a driving section, a shooting arcade game and mock turn-based RPG battles.
Interestingly, the standard frustration with the point-and-click genre doesn’t really come into play here. Items you pick up in each of the chapters factor into the interactive puzzle elements for said chapter and, thankfully, the game’s off-the-wall humour manages not to confuse the process, remaining decipherable throughout.
The fact that it’s able to do this despite the outrageous plot is quite impressive, and even though I – admittedly – cheated far too often, but this was more due to me sharing similar brain capacity to the 3ft rabbit rather than the puzzles themselves being illogical.
While this side-splitting title is undoubtedly a comedy powerhouse, the remaster of the original five chapters doesn’t provide much in the way of value outside of the original content. There are some tweaked visuals as well as some script changes, but apart from that, there isn’t much of an incentive for those who have the game from its original release.
It would have been nice if there were some special features, artwork from Steve Purcell or some of the original comics, but as the saying goes, you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, because this effervescent and evergreen title is an ageless wine with a comically-large gun, and one can only hope that this leads to not only the remastering of the entire trilogy of games on consoles, but also something new. Sam and Max are back, baby.