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Friday | December 9, 2016
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Sam and Max S2 Ep4

Sam and Max S2 Ep4

Even though I have only started reviewing for Gaming Heaven in the last couple of months I have been a huge follower of the Sam and Max PC games, the sense of humor combined with the wonderful voice acting always have had me chuckling in laughter.

Chariot Of The Dogs is the latest in the long line of game shorts released for the PC and it focuses on the missing store clerk Bosco. I missed him from the last game so before I even started playing I knew this would be a great addition to the series. I am glad I was not wrong because this game is absolutely brilliant and is laced with the satire we all expect from the Sam and Max games.

The main crux of the storyline involves Sam and Max’s attempts to rescue Bosco from the hands of the evil T-H-E-M, only previously detailed in the paranoid rantings of Bosco himself. Seemingly he wasn’t so paranoid and delusional after all !

There is plenty of travelling to the past and the future in this game and you get to see younger and older versions of the characters introduced in prior games from the series, and amusingly you get to meet parents of some of the regulars also. It is hard to review this game without waxing lyrical about key elements in the game but I fear these would ruin the overall experience for those of you intent on buying it, so I will do my best to be as coy as possible. One of the greatest performances in the game is from future Sam, who now clearly has alzheimers and without a doubt his scripting in this episode is the best yet.

There are new characters in the game and they fit in well with the overall series design. I would go as far to say this is my favourite episode of the series due in particular to the razor sharp dialogue, always a mainstay of the games. I am amazed that there is no sign of the series becoming stale either, particularly when the storyline is so creative and inventive. The future and past selves certainly expand upon the characters personalities and add even more depth.

As you solve puzzles in Chariot of the Dogs each of these progresses the path for Bosco’s eventual escape. The puzzles this time around seem to be less guesswork and more logical thinking and I couldn’t help but notice this, so I am sure it is intentional. This makes the story much more enjoyable to watch (and play) and certainly the sense of completing something is very rewarding. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t used an online guide to help me out of a particularly confusing section of one of the Sam and Max titles, but with the latest iteration I didn’t need to consult any guides for a push in the right direction. The game cohesion this time around has stepped up a notch, and for the better.

This is however not to say that every puzzle in the game will be child’s play to beat, there are a few of them which are rather difficult, but it is more a case of not knowing how to solve it but working out how to approach it, rather than being totally clueless. Some complainers of this series have moaned about the fact that there is always too much backtracking and it seems the game developers have been listening because with the aid of time travel there is now NO backtracking required at all.

After rescuing Rosco the plot takes another twist and he gets captured again from T-H-E-M, these guys just won’t give up! I am aware this sounds tedious in a text review however if you do pick this game up to play you should be (like me) in hysterics when it happens. It is not often I laugh out loud when playing a computer game (well not for the right reasons anyway) so I will take that as a good sign of a strong script. There is even a musical piece included which I thought was great. I am not a big fan of musical skits in movies, tv shows or games, however with the witty humor lacing the lyrics it would be hard to dislike.

As usual the voice acting is top notch and is something we hope will never change and these performances are the whole backbone for the game, they never fail to disappoint. The music is also very professionally handled, even more so than before and perhaps the makers have a little more budget to work with now, due to the series success across the globe.

The graphics are very stylish and obviously they aren’t going to be stressing the shader effects of your shiny 3870 or 8800 series graphics card, but they work wonderfully within the surreal cartoon style environment.

The sucker punch is the storyline, it ties everything together, even going back as far to the first season to work in a funny Back To The Future way. The problem is if I explain just how well this works it will ruin the game for everyone reading this, so I need to be unfortunately rather vague. I will just say that T-H-E-M are not who you might think they are, and their identity is quite startling!

Chariots of the Dogs is another strong showing in the witty and wacky world of Sam and Max. The script is very strong and the sense of humor has lost none of the edge over the years. The time travelling aspect is hilarious and brings a new dimension (no pun intended) to the series. Fantastic voice acting, cute and sharp graphic design as well as some of the best storytelling in the modern PC world, make this a no-miss PC bargain ($8.95 online). While you are at it, do yourself a favor and pick up the rest of the series.

Gameplay
88/100
Funny, and cleverly designed puzzles make this a joy to play and fun to watch to !
Graphics
82/100
Perfect for the genre and very well designed. Will run like a charm on older hardware as well.
Sound
90/100
Hard to fault the voice acting and the music. Top job.
Value
93/100
$8.95 for a game of this quality? Bargain
Overall
(not an average)
88/100
One of the best games in this long standing series. They are all great, this one is the cream of the crop.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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