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Sam & Max Episode 203: Night of the Raving Dead
Review By: Jared Black
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Genre: Adventure
ESRB: Teen
# Of Players: 1
Online Play: No
Accessories: Premieres on GameTap, with a worldwide release the following day via Telltale Games
Buy Now: Buy Sam & Max Episode 203: Night of the Raving Dead at Amazon.com!

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When we last left our intrepid heroes, Sam & Max were busy saving the inhabitants of Easter Island from certain igneous doom. Having successfully conquered that threat, they return home to find that their neighborhood has been overrun with…z...z…z…zombies! Sam will have no part in that of course (although Max seems relatively OK with it), especially after one steals Jesse James’ hand right out of their office and they get a call from the commish asking for assistance. So the duo sets off to find the mysterious Zombie Factory in Stuttgart, Germany, and put a stop to it once and for all.

Perhaps I should back up however, because the game actually begins with the boys facing certain death in a spiky soul-crushing device of doom. At the controls is a fey Euro-trash emo vampire named Jurgen, with doorknockers pierced to his nipples and a really bad gap in his fangs. But before they can presumably meet their fate, we first flashback to play roughly 2/3rd of the story, which illustrates just how they got themselves in such a mess in the first place.

Sam & Max Episode 203: Night of the Raving Dead

Character-wise, Night of the Raving Dead fares much better than Moai Better Blues. Although Bosco is nowhere to be found (but at least we find out why…kinda), Flint Paper finally comes into his own for the first time this season and Sybil plays a hilarious and integral role in the storyline after largely (and literally) sitting the last one out. Jurgen and his “army” of zombies are actually funnier than Santa and his elves from Ice Station Santa, and several appearances from characters from last season all play an important and hilarious role.

Most hilarious is Telltale’s stab at the TV sitcom, as Sam & Max make their on-screen debut in Midtown Cowboys. Philo Pennyworth returns as a self-important actor (and also chicken), who talks about cherishing the industry but will sell out and promote any product placed in front of him. As an influential TV program (it’s big in Germany) the “episodes” they film are integral to the overall storyline, and parody the very worst TV has to offer perfectly. There are also hilarious stabs at the video game world, with John Romero and Resident Evil catching the worst of it.

As far as the puzzles are concerned, much like Moai Better Blues they’re easier than they were in Ice Station Santa, save for the last 30 minutes or so when there are a couple of puzzles that are fairly challenging. In particular, the final boss fight is fairly confusing at first, but simply eliminating all of the different options available eventually leads the player to the right solution. On the whole though, Night of the Raving Dead strikes just the right balance in terms of challenge and fetch quests, never overwhelming the player but ending with a satisfying sense of accomplishment nevertheless.

Bottom Line:

Telltale Games had me at “Euro-trash emo vampire with an undead army” and then took it much further with Sybil’s prominent (and hilarious) role and a cliffhanger ending that’s actually tolerable because the next episode is just a month away. Telltale is single-handedly resurrecting both the idea of episodic gaming and the adventure genre itself, and I can’t wait to see how this season ends.

Pros:Cons:Final Score:
  • Another excellent installment of gaming’s best episodic franchise.
  • Several supporting characters from last year return in meaningful roles, and none of them throw up a relative comedy stinkbomb like the babies did in Moai Better Blues.
  • An even and inviting difficulty level keeps the laughs a’comin’ without feeling too easy.
  • The last 30 minutes or so bog down with a couple of head-scratching puzzles that make little logical sense.
9.0
1

Posted: 2008-03-13 13:07:44 PST