After the shakeup of Telltale Games closing their doors, their entire back-catalog was thrown into limbo. That’s when Telltale co-founder Dan Conners created Skunkape Games and grabbed the rights to Sam & Max and fully remastered their first Telltale season, Sam & Max Save the World. The freelance police are back in action after 10 years off in this modern throwback.
The graphic overhaul of Sam & Max Save the World Remastered makes the game feel more modernized without losing any of its charm. Some edges get smoothed out and the lighting is more dynamic, which really makes the game’s cartoon graphics really pop. Performance wise, Sam & Max ran consistently on a docked Switch with no noticeable framerate drops or glitching, which had been a large point of criticism in the later Telltale Games series.
The world of Sam & Max is vibrant, stylized, and ever changing. The main area with Sam & Max’s office is in every episode, but the other shops on the street change from episode to episode to keep it fresh. Each episode also features a case that offers new areas to explore such as the White House and a completely digital world.
Despite the graphics being revitalized enough to keep up with current expectations, the writing tends to show its age. Whether it’s taking swipes at Keanu Reeves for bad acting, references to Ralph Nader and Pat Robertson, a pun based on popular 90’s home workout Tae Bo, even mentioning Tivo! The younger crowd might have to hit google for answers, but if you’re an older gamer these references automatically make you realize time is fleeting and middle age is nigh.
While most of the later titles in Telltale’s catalog were player-choice driven narratives, Sam & Max Save the World is a much more straightforward point and click adventure. The player guides the freelance police duo through 6 episodes worth of cases that feature brainwashed former child actors, VR gaming gone awry, and navigating the reality tv show circuit.
All of these episodes tie together to a greater mystery, however Sam & Max Save the World doesn’t offer much in terms of a cohesive story arc. Some cases the pair work on are only partially, and sometimes lazily, tied to the framing device and letting the game get by with some loose logic is necessary.
However, as a wise person once said, it’s about the journey. Letting your mind adjust to cartoon logic to figure out how to get by obstacles is just plain fun. On top of that, the characters of Sam and Max are incredibly entertaining and packed full of quips that can make even a stone faced sourpuss crack a smile. This is one of the rare comedic games that actually had me laughing throughout.
There’s not much in terms of challenge in Sam & Max Save the World Remastered’s puzzles, the biggest challenge in them was that some required a lot of running back and forth. In one episode one of the puzzles had me run back and forth between 2 buildings about 4 times. Thankfully the load screens are fairly quick and softens the blow of trekking back and forth to get the right items.
Ultimately the fresh coat of paint does this game wonders and just seeing the way Sam and Max play off each other is brilliant. However there are some design choices that show their age more than the time Max asks Sam to tivo the Dukes of Hazzard while they’re in a Chuck E Cheese parody arcade.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
The Freelance Police are back in action
Sam & Max are back after a decade on the bench. The majority of this game’s charm still holds up, but some of the design decisions show through in monotonous ways.