By Evan Goldaper
It’s the final challenge of the first chapter. Armed only with a metal strainer, you’ve got to stop an insane actor from using a pipe organ to hypnotize the world, starting with former child stars. What should you do?
The amazing thing about Sam and Max Save the World is that it only gets more bizarre and enjoyable from there. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a game about two freelance police officers: Sam, a talking dog in a suit, and Max, his deviously violent rabbit sidekick. Together, they have to save the world (as the title clearly states) from a variety of hypnotism and brainwashing-related mysteries. Though it was originally released in a monthly episodic format back in 2006 and 2007, it has been completed and is now essentially one complete full-length title.
The game is a rare thing—it has genuinely good writing. Of course, that’s vital for any point-and-click adventure, but the sheer quality of the dialogue and voice acting was surprising. I can’t think of any other video game this funny; the quality is on par with many cartoons. Sam’s deadpan is the perfect counter to Max’s insane ranting, turning even the usually dull observational banter that characterizes the genre into comedy gold. Even background characters are memorable; there weren’t any who I dreaded having to talk to, even repeatedly.
Point-and-click games aren’t without their caveats, though. Many people fear that games like this will be mostly dialogue rather than gameplay. That’s not completely incorrect—at times, I did feel more like I was watching than playing, but never for very long. There are clever, consistently surprising puzzles throughout, and these challenges grow quite difficult by the game’s end. With that said, none of them are impossible, and all of them are very satisfying when completed.
Simply put, everyone should at least give Sam and Max Save the World a try. On Telltale Games’ website, a little less than 30 dollars will get you the entire game, and doubters can download demos of any chapter or the entirety of Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die!, which amounts to one-sixth of the game, for free.
It’s worth a shot. After all, those child stars aren’t going to defeat themselves.