Sam & Max Save the World is Telltale Games' first episodic series and a revival of the Sam & Max franchise in classic point-and-click style.
Sam & Max is a point-and-click adventure, which for those unfamiliar with the genre basically means that you point your cursor at objects and interact with them. The interface is very simple - you click on an object, and sometimes you are able to add that item to your inventory to use it later on. You can also interact with people, and you get to choose your dialogue from a list of options. By using items in your inventory and by selecting the proper dialogue options, you can solve puzzles that stand in your way and advance the story line.
Anyone who played any of the classic Lucasarts point-and-click adventures of the 90's will find that the genre's gameplay really hasn't changed at all.
Sam (a dog) and Max (a rabbity thing) are freelance detectives that solve cases given to them by the Commissioner. Instead of solving actual crimes, Sam & Max always seem to get caught up in wild and bizarre adventures that can only be solved with creative and equally bizarre solutions.
As the game is episodic, there's actually six different stories that all tie in with one another at the end. Without giving too much of the plot away, Sam & Max must uncover a deep reaching conspiracy to hypnotize the citizens of the US using everything from evil teddy bears to workout videos and the internet.
Normally my reviews just focus on a game's story, but humor is such a huge part of the Sam and Max franchise that we have to look at it as well. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed with the quality and creativity of both the story and humor. It's inevitable to compare this new episodic release with the original game, Sam & Max Hit the Road - a cult classic, but even judging this on it's own, it falls somewhat flat. The story elements between the episodes feel forced and disjointed, and although the humor does deliver at times, especially in dialogue between Sam and Max, much of the other dialogue between characters fails to amuse or even ventures into the dreaded "annoying" category at times. The telling thing for me was that I actually considered skipping through some of the dialogue at times, which isn't a good thing when your game depends on dialogue for most of the humor.
Sam & Max Save the World is a 3D adventure, and this is a good move for the franchise, but the graphics truly are lacking. The character and object models look amateurish for the most part, and they’re also lacking realistic looking textures. I understand the need to keep the world looking cartoony, and I also understand that this was initially a PC/WiiWare release, but for an XBLA title, the graphics are not up to par.
The voice acting for Sam and Max themselves is excellent, but unfortunately this is not the case for all the other characters in the world that you’re forced to interact with. I’ll also note that although it’s not a big problem, I encountered a bug on numerous occasions that results in the last few syllables of a line of dialogue being cut off.
Sam & Max costs $20, which is a fair amount for an XBLA title, but is it worth it? You get six episodes, which in my experience each took around 3 to 4 hours to beat, so you’re looking at probably over 20 hours of gameplay if you take your time to enjoy the world. It doesn’t have a lot of replay value if you take your time exploring on your first play through, but all in all, I think Sam & Max is fairly priced.
Very straightforward achievements, the vast majority for beating the episodes and performing auxiliary actions through the episodes. Let’s be honest though, if you’re playing this game for the achievements, you’re approaching Sam & Max with the wrong attitude.
Sam & Max is a valiant effort at trying to revive a classic franchise and a dead genre. But does it succeed? Unfortunately, the game falls just short in a few categories, including graphics and the key humor component, and it’s my opinion that although Sam & Max Save the World will entertain old fans of the series, it probably won’t convert any new players to the genre.