Thursday, April 24, 2008

The dog and rabbit "freelance police" team wraps up its second season with an extra-large helping of bizarre adventure. The usual pattern of a Sam & Max point-and-click game is to solve an initial set of three puzzles, thereby unlocking a final set of three new puzzles before the resolution. In this fifth installment, just when we think we're done, the adventure continues. After all, with a title like, "What's New, Beelzebub?", we should guess that a date with the big guy downstairs isn't going to be so straightforward to come back from and still look forward to a Season Three.

While the puzzles are still the mundane trial-and-error approach of applying different inventory objects to hotspots on the screen to see what works, it's the snappy dialogue among all the characters that drives the comedy forward. Apart from Sam & Max themselves, I especially like the 10-foot tall killer robot who philosophizes about life using only snippets of song lyrics from the '80s. And Tiny Timmy, the rat, whose every other utterance is *bleeped* out because he suffers from Tourette's syndrome. One of the puzzles actually involves finding a way to un*bleep* his dialogue because a vital clue gets *bleeped* out along with the rest of his profanities. Hilarious.

Although Episode Five can stand on its own, it'll make more sense having played the four episodes before. Episode Five ties up all the loose ends in this Second Season, including all the odd time-travel paradoxes scattered around the previous four episodes, and resolves every cliffhanger as well -- such as where the molten lava disappeared to when the volcano erupted in Episode Two. Also, all the characters from both Seasons show up in one way or another, with some eyebrow-raising developments to some of the characters as well.

However, not everyone will be able to stomach the themes of Episode Five as it goes all out to make light of our beliefs about the afterlife and the torments that await us there. Best to slap a "Not Easily Offended" label on the game as fair warning to those who might be. Then again, if you were easily offended, you probably wouldn't be playing Sam & Max anyway.

No comments: