Sam & Max: The City That Dares Not Sleep

8.5 Overall Score

Written by on August 31, 2010 in

When we last left our dynamic duo they had fought valiantly against the dark forces bent on their city’s destruction only to have Max become an enormously tentacle and floppy-eared beast from another dimension.  The game’s narrator stands in his black and white Twilight Zone world once again to set the stage for the player.

In the last episode of this series developed by Telltale Games, Max is out of control, rampaging through the streets of the city while Sam tries to recruit colleagues from past episodes to help save his not so little buddy from the ultimate solution.  Secret Service Agent Superball, and now President, has given Sam an extremely short time to stop Max before he must deploy his destructive robot army to take Max down for good.  Sam’s search for help reintroduces the player to many of the characters from past episodes.

It is a desperate time and Sam takes some pretty desperate measures to ensure his partner’s survival.   Sam’s plan is to get Max to eat him and his heroic team.  Sam is determined to find a way to return Max to his hyperkinetic rabbit-like small self from the inside out.  He recruits two and a half brave adventurers for the mission to save Max:  Monsieur Papierwaite with Dr. Norrington protruding from his chest and a very pregnant Sybil Pandemik Lincoln (yes she is married to a statue of Abraham Lincoln, somehow).  Dr. Norrington’s knowledge of the Dark Dimension (being a former resident of the dimension that turned Max into current beastly self) and Sybil Pandemik’s endless resume of skills seem a well rounded team to save the day.   The fearless trio, plus one, travels throughout Max’s body to discover the source of his transformation, find a way to control the creature, and (finally) find a way to return Max to his former self.

The heroes race to the rescue to the distorted guitar music with bold typeface text introducing each character as they head, literally, into the belly of the beast.  It is a title sequence straight from classic cop drama shows of the 70’s like Streets of San Francisco. It is a tribute to the music, dialog and even the strange fashion sense of the 70’s.  Momma Bosco may be a scientific genius but that does not stop her from sporting her sassy sense of style inspired by films like Foxy Brown.  Even the extremely pregnant Sybil Pandemik does not miss a chance to save the day in a red leather catsuit.  It is an explosion of 70’s goodness and there are many characters going along for the groovy ride.  Among the  characters from past episodes making cameo appearances in the game are:  Sal (the Cockroach), Grandpa Stinky, Girl Stinky, General Skun Kape, Space Apes, Abe Lincoln (the giant stone Memorial himself), and the list goes on.  Even Satan makes an appearance as he attempts to repair the public relations nightmare of a giant Max destroying the city.  Sam & Max enthusiasts will love seeing all the character’s as they play their part in the adventure but those new to the series need not worry about being confused by the parade of guest stars.  Each character is introduced and their role in the series is explained.

There is nothing new in the gameplay of this episode from any of the previous Sam& Max episodes.  The genius is in the story.  It is still a point and click adventure with dialog choices to help guide the player along in the game.  There are a series of puzzles that the player must figure out so they can progress in the game.  The player may get stuck on how best to accomplish each puzzle’s goal.  If that happens, the player can set the amount and detail of hints given in the characters’ dialog in the options menu.  The higher the hint level, the more obvious the clues will be.  This series is a very linear game style.  If the player has not accomplished all of the goals for each level the player will not be allowed to move on.  If one thinks that will stifle the flow of the game I would argue that this is only a part of the story.  Where this series shines is the dialog the witty details that sparkle and make the player chuckle.  This is a game that is not afraid to laugh at itself and the film and TV genres that inspire it.  This final episode contains a few clever twists to keep the player interested in discovering exactly who is behind all the chaos.  I enjoyed who the evil mastermind turned out to be.  I can’t say any more without giving something away.  I will say that this is an epic adventure and I, for one, enjoyed the game’s resolution.  Will Sam be able to save his partner in time?  Will Max spend an eternity trapped in the body of an enormous squid-like creature?  Is there a doctor on call that knows who to deliver a statuesque baby of monumental proportions?   Stay tuned for the entire roll of credits to find the answers to some or none of these important questions.

A copy of Sam & Max: The City That Dares Not Sleep was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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