Sam & Max: Episode 203 - Night of the Raving Dead
Hot on the heels of their last crazy adventure comes Sam & Max - Night of the Raving Dead. Surprise! Zombies have a part to play in this one, with a dash of Dracula and Frankenstein's monster too, so it's fertile ground right from the word 'go'. Don't even think you've been there and done that. Well maybe you have as all the familiar props are there: the gloom, flashing lightning, a dark castle, coffins, stakes and holy water, but they're all given a good dose of the Sam & Max derisive treatment and intermingled with the usual social satire and jokes about just about everything!
Thinking back over all 9 episodes of both series thus far, it's difficult to say which is the funniest as there's very little between them. I thought the darker zombie theme worked a treat, but that could be because it's fresh in my mind. Really it's all going to depend on your sense of humour and there are some US-centric jokes that could curb the chuckles a bit for us 'foreigners'. But not to worry, even if you miss some (I know I do) the humour is so wide reaching there's sure to be something to take their place.
A large part of the story is told in flashback, and that works a treat too I thought. It opens with our intrepid duo about to meet their sticky end when Sam tells the story of their recent life that's flashing before his eyes. Then later on you'll have a chuckle as you revisit that scene and help Sam & Max wiggle out of what befalls them.
It's once again a self-contained story with a quick allusion to what has gone before to set the scene. Abe is back, and so is Sybil, and you'll recognise several other characters too. Bosco, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found, he's run away from 'THEM' and it's tantalizing to think that we might run into him in some future episode. The new kid on the block is the unholy Jurgen along with his gaggle of zombies. Jurgen plans to take over the world. He's 'cool', has a way with words, and is faster than a speeding bullet with his red, spiky hair and oversized nipple rings.
He can't fail to impress as he zaps around in a cartoon world that's suitably murky and includes a zombie disco where Sam & Max can get a little exercise. And you'll once again see the hometown street, which isn't murky of course, plus make a short trip to the W.A.R.P. TV Studio. The graphics are of the usual high standard with lots of animations and excellent voice acting. Ditto for the sound effects and background music.
Like the previous games in this series, Sam & Max - Night of the Raving Dead is a neatly put together adventure that is stamped by professionalism. There are always clues to point you in the right direction even if it's tricky getting there sometimes. Amongst the array of puzzles and conundrums is the compulsory driving challenge (again not too difficult), plus one challenge based on dialogue choices, and a selection of items to find and use. It's pretty obvious where you're going and what to do next but if in doubt you can again set the slider to get Max to dish out hints. He generally points you to the best location for moving forward and you take it from there, so he doesn't give too much away. It all fits together nicely although in the scheme of things I encountered one blot in the copybook when putting together the Frankenstein's monster. It was a little misleading with one item behaving at odds to the others. Luckily it didn't hold me up for long (maybe I did a bit of exra work) but it niggled just the same.
Sam & Max: Episode 203 Night of the Raving Dead is a reasonable length for this type of episodic game though I would have liked to have done more in the TV studio. It's the darkest of the series thus far but you'll be smiling rather than ducking under the desk or covering your eyes. I especially liked the quirky zombies and eventually getting to communicate with them. Another fun episode with a few good laughs.
Sam & Max: Episode 203 - Night of the Raving Dead is available for download through GameTap or through Telltale Games.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 2008.
All rights reserved.
Windows XP/Vista, 800MHz processor if using a video card with hardware T & L - 1.5GHz if using a video card without hardware T & L (1.5GHz recommended), 256MB RAM (512 recommended), 32MB 3D-accelerated video card (64MB recommended).