GamingReview: Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space

Review: Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space

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Dialing up the weirdness to eleven, Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space (a remaster of a ports of Sam & Max Season 2, originally released on PC in 2008) takes the concept of the prior entries in the series and provides an even more bizarre spin on it, with cultural references galore that looks for more situational irony than it does traditional laughs.

It might just be a consequence of trying to keep the comedy adventure series from becoming stale, but by making the game so bizarre, the game’s point-and-click mechanics make far less logical sense, frustrating the player as you feel you the need to combine every possible object just to find the correct solution. As a result, the joy of solving the puzzles is not the same as it was in Sam & Max: Save the World, and is further compounded by a lacklustre cast of new characters, leaving the two protagonists to carry the load.

Figured out which point of interest is the relevant one yet? Errrrr……

This isn’t to say that the story falls flat, but the cultural grabs feel like cheap pops that are either overly-cliched or outdated, and even similar banter between Sam and Max can feel repetitive from the 15+ hour adventures, especially if you play the remasters back-to-back.

It results in chapters 1-5 being as inconsistent as they are weird, and is almost as if the game wants to parody every single culturally-significant fictional character known to the western world, but most of the jokes surrounding them are surface-level and are more about subverting your expectation of the characters in their immediate introductions, and anything amusing that comes from the scenario seems to arise despite their inclusion.  

Santa, Satan and Dracula as well as dated cultural references like an 80s lyric-spewing robot, Jimmy Hoffa and D.B. Cooper feature for momentary laughs, and the occasional intriguing puzzle, but mostly leaves a gaping hole for character depth. 

When they are given enough time to develop, said cliches can become a decent member of the cast – such as the Frankenstein robot – but for the most part, the new characters aren’t given enough depth to connect with the oversized Dog and Rabbit, and due to that, those particular chapters don’t feel anything more than a grand set-up for the puzzles.  

This isn’t true of all the chapters, however, as chapter 4 uses time travel and connects an interwoven story from previous chapters, unveiling reasons for seemingly unimportant actions, giving existing characters some backstory and making the overall plot richer.  

A time travelling elevator that will take you to many places unknown, and some known.

Although difficult to solve, the puzzles are often well-constructed – both individually and as a concept for the entire chapter. Whether it is timing the firing of a cannon, to load up a toy plane that you then must drop appropriately on an enemy’s head or changing the body part of a Frankenstein robot in order to answer questions correctly in a dating contest, there is always an amusing mix, keeping you on toes throughout.  

He’s alive alright.

Essentially, this is the same gameplay format from Save the World, and while it is a good blueprint to work from, there are very few changes from its predecessor – limited to providing clues when you are stuck and better mechanics for minigames – and the gameplay itself is largely the same, wasting opportunities to extend amusing mechanics such as controlling building-high robots and a boxing minigame. Furthemore, the remaster – much like its predecessor – offers little that previous ports haven’t already, but despite this, it doesn’t lessen my appetite for a remastered version of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse.

Sam & Max: Beyond Space and Time tries to be too clever for its own good, expecting the player to follow long-winded and sometimes-incomprehensible logic of its puzzles, and with its dated references and cliched characters, although this entry might still be enjoyable, it is one of the less memorable Sam and Max entries.

SUMMARY

+ Trademark Sam and Max humour is still there
+ Interwoven time travel concept is really quite clever
- Puzzles are difficult to decipher
- Cliched characters. If I see Santa in an another video game, I'm gonna.....
- Outdated references. Think of the kids, somebody think of the kids....
- The remaster offers few additions and changes

Played on PS4. Available on Nintendo Switch, X-box systems and Windows.
Alex Chessun
Alex Chessun
Currently obsessed with the Yakuza series (minus no.7), Alex is an avid fan of immersive Open World games, quick pick-up-and-play arcade experiences and pretty much anything else good. He also desperately wants Shenmue 4 to happen - a lot.

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+ Trademark Sam and Max humour is still there <br/> + Interwoven time travel concept is really quite clever <br/> - Puzzles are difficult to decipher <br/> - Cliched characters. If I see Santa in an another video game, I'm gonna..... <br/> - Outdated references. Think of the kids, somebody think of the kids.... <br/> - The remaster offers few additions and changes <br/> <br/> Played on PS4. Available on Nintendo Switch, X-box systems and Windows.Review: Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space