Telltale Games have really done a great job with the Sam & Max episodes released so far. Not only have they captured the much loved feel and
flavour of this freelance police duo so well, but they've really breathed life into the Sam & Max franchise thanks to incredible variation from
episode to episode when it comes to the environments and situations gamers will have to solve their way out of. Whether it's on the Moon to stop a cult
leader, in Cyberspace to stop a corruptive videogame,
on Easter Island to prevent a volcano, or any of the other settings featured in the 8 episodes so far, Telltale have had little issue translating the same
fun Sam & Max gameplay across all sorts of storylines while at the same time keeping the experience fresh. You can really tell these guys are
having fun with this series.
And I'm sure the latest episode to see release, Season 2 Episode 3: Night of the Raving Dead, must have been particularly fun for them to work on.
This episode, as the title eludes to, dumps Sam and Max in the middle of a zombie crisis, which leads all the way back to a spooky castle/rave night club in
Germany owned by a flamboyant and trend following vampire lord who has an evil plan to execute. You know, the usual. Of course, much hilarity ensues,
but this time, Sam and Max find themselves in
some far more deadly serious situations.
For those that have played one of the recent Sam & Max episodes, Night of the Raving Dead is not going to offer much in the way of new
concepts. The same basic premise is obviously deployed yet again, which means solving puzzles to advance the storyline, and taking in the humor and fun
the game has to offer on the way. Back again is the hint system we've seen since the first episode in Season 2, but that's to be expected as it appears to be
a fixture in the series now, and that's definitely
a good thing because like the previous two episodes, it really is implemented brilliantly in Night of the Raving Dead, allowing over-thinkers when the
puzzle is simple (such as myself) and
under-thinkers when the puzzle is more complex (yeah, that too) to play the game without having to scramble to an online walkthrough every 10 minutes,
while at the same time not making solutions too obvious. This is because Max, the verbal outlet of the hint system, never gives the whole solution to any
away. Telltale have made sure to record multiple phrases Max says as hints for most of the game's major puzzle situations and even if they directly
contribute to your completion of a puzzle, you never really feel robbed of the satisfaction often felt when solving problems in adventure games. Of
course, for the more skilled and savvy, the hint system can be turned off completely.
One slight shift in Night of the Raving Dead's gameplay that many will notice however is this time around, more logic seems to be required
when solving the puzzles and problems that the game presents. The Sam & Max series so far has swung back and forth here and there in this regard -
between more logical gameplay and more random gameplay - and this episode definitely seems to tilt towards the former. Many of the puzzles you will be doing
in this episode are indeed comparable to
putting a puzzle together - as in you have all you need in front of you, you just need to put it together right. Personally, I like this approach better
than the more random, far out there thinking some of the episodes have required. Now, that's not to say Night of the Raving Dead is completely without
the patented Sam & Max quirky charm, but lets just say there probably won't be many times in this episode you'll still
be scratching your head in confusion after a puzzle is done.
Even though there really isn't any direct cross over of storyline from episode to episode per se, Night of the Raving Dead is naturally best played
after already playing the previous episodes, which is something I say in all of these Sam & Max episode reviews, but this time it really is quite
vital. This is because much of the storyline this time around actually references the storyline in Episode 2 of Season 1, or 'Situation: Comedy' as it
was titled, not to mention a selection of
reappearances by various characters from various episodes.
I really liked this episode. I may go as far to say it was my favorite yet. The jokes seemed to be coming thick and fast, and the puzzles and problem
solving situations just seemed to have more thought and effort put in than some of the previous episodes. The horror/zombie genre was begging to be done by
Telltale with Sam & Max and they have done it very well with Night of the Raving Dead. Like all episodes, but particularly with this one,
Night of the Raving Dead can't be fully enjoyed
without having played the prior episodes, so if you've yet to latch on to this great adventure gaming series, I'd get right on that. For those who already
are enjoying the series, this latest episode is obviously a no brainer to get, and as I said, I reckon it's the best one yet.
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