If there is one thing Telltale has shown, it's that they can actually do episodic content the way it should be done. Sam and Max has been a success for them as they haven't kept people waiting and have really built the story well as time goes on. The latest in the series, "Abe Lincoln Must Die", takes a bit of a diversion from the first games based on user feedback. However, depending on your feeling towards adventure games, this is either a positive or negative effect. We actually found ourselves not liking this episode as much as the others and there are a few reasons why.
Abe Lincoln Must Die sees the president of the United States enacting a bunch of crazy laws while under hypnosis. Sam and Max obviously have to come to the rescue and that's pretty much all we can tell you about the story without getting into spoiler territory. One thing we will say is that the storyline does keep you going in the game it's just the execution of the other sections which has let the team down this time. Also, the humor in the game shines through a lot more and Telltale appear to be taking a lot more risks in the storyline and humor than the first few episodes because there is no doubt the pressure has been lifted now that the game is getting critical acclaim.
As expected Abe Lincoln Must Die is a fairly stock standard adventure game which takes Sam and Max through some age old mechanics of adventure games which in our opinion was a bit of a mistake. While the first few episodes were indeed very short, they were episodes and not full games which always left you wanting more - exactly what episodic content should do. With ALMD, Telltale has tried a more formulaic classic adventure game approach and you will find yourself getting quite bored at the amount of times you have to go from one area to another just to achieve a few tasks, especially when these few tasks could be all done at once with only one change of location required.
[img]samandmaxep4_pc_2[/img]Another thing which really stands out about ALMD in comparison to the first two episodes is that the puzzles seem a little more 'out there' this time around. No matter how good you think you are with adventure games, the puzzles in this title will challenge you. As we said earlier, whether this is a positive or a negative depends on your approach to adventure gaming. We didn't enjoy this one as much as the first two, but from an unbiased standpoint we can see why Telltale did this and can appreciate that it actually improves the game's standing in the adventure gaming genre.
This episode is also significantly longer than the others. Chances are you will generally get at least a few days to a week out of this one depending on how much you play and this is in direct response to the concern that the first two were short and finished too quickly and easily. One thing which also extends the length of the game is the fact that the puzzles are no longer conventional and require some lateral thinking.
Visually the game is extremely well done but it's once again hard to talk about this factor without spoiling some major surprises in the game. What we will say is the environments you visit are done in true Sam & Max style and you will find some truly hilarious moments throughout. This episode builds upon the first few and as you play through the season you begin to notice that characters and areas you have visited before make welcome come backs.
Sam and Max Abe Lincoln Must Die takes the series back to some familiar adventure gaming territory which is going to polarize people one way or another. It is definitely longer and more value for money than the first few, and it shows that the developers are starting to take risks. If this is an indication of how the season will close off, then it can only get better.