Sam and Max Beyond Time and Space - Xbox Live Arcade

I don’t think anyone at this point would deny that Telltale has pretty much mastered the adventure game. Between Sam and Max, Wallace and Gromit, Tales of Monkey Island and of course Strong Bad (a personal favourite of mine) these guys have proven time and time again they know exactly what they’re doing. Not only that but they’re ridiculously good at sticking to the monthly episode concept (except where is my episode 2 of W&G on XBLA?! L) which has to be admired.

I really enjoyed the first Sam and Max game, which I actually played through on the Wii. I was more than ready to dive into Season 2 and am now here to tell all of you my thoughts.

I’ll be honest and say that Season 1 was my first exposure to the characters of Sam and Max. I knew of them, having friends who adored both Hit the Road and the cartoon show. In fact my fiancée loved Hit the Road so much that I basically bought Season 1 for her. I immediately got the appeal however and was looking forward to playing some more.

Well Season 2 is here (well on Xbox Live anyway, PC gamers have had this for about two years now…bastards) and I must say, I enjoyed this one even more than the first.

I will get my one gripe out of the way early so that we can move right on with the good stuff. Controlling the game with the 360 controller can definitely be cumbersome. The developers do everything they can but no matter what way you look at it this type of game is not really meant to be played with a standard controller. It certainly doesn’t break the game by any means, it’s just something you have to get used to in order to really enjoy it.

Alright we got that out of the way, let’s get to the positives. I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that the game is really funny. However I will take that a step further and say this could be the funniest Telltale release I’ve played through yet. That’s not easy for me to say either. That’s the equivalent of choosing a favourite child to me. But there you have it.

The first game was funny, but I found that it didn’t quite hit its stride until a few episodes in. This game starts a full out assault on the funny bone as soon as you start playing the first episode.

The writing is top-notch in every aspect. Each character, no matter how secondary, are developed and given tons of funny dialogue. This is the kind of game where you want to take your time and talk to everyone because you don’t want to miss out on any of the funny. Thankfully they also got great voice acting to support it otherwise it would run the risk of all falling flat.

One feature of adventure games I always look for is whether or not they have found the “happy medium” with their puzzles. This of course means finding that perfect balance in the puzzles so that they still make you think, but aren’t completely arbitrary solutions that you never would have thought of normally. See my review of Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 1 for some more insight on this.

Thankfully Sam and Max finds that balance. You will get stuck but when you figure out the answer it usually makes absolute sense. There’s no “use the bucket to eat the lion” kind of gibberish in the puzzle solving and thank god for that.

The game contains five chapters, each of which will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours to beat. When you do the math, that’s a hell of a lot of content for only 20 bucks. Two people can barely dine at McDonald’s for that much, and even so you won’t be getting 15 hours out of that, even including the vomiting.

When you beat all the episodes there isn’t much incentive to come back but who cares?! You still get a ton of gameplay for what you pay. Let’s get past the whole “but it’s 20 dollars for a downloadable game” crap and just embrace this.

Seriously people, check this one out.