There are many animal duos in the gaming industry, but there aren’t many that come as close to my heart as Sam and Max, which is funny because up until now I’d never properly played through any of their games. Back when this Telltale series was originally released, I must have played through the demo of the first episode for hours and never got bored of it. I watched endless clips of the Telltale Poker games just to hear more from them, despite not knowing how to play poker. I watched clips from their television show on YouTube, and I was finally pushed into buying VR once I saw that they were getting a game there. I can’t for the life of me tell you why I like this pair so much, but when I saw that this remaster was coming out I knew I had to talk about it and finally experience it for myself.
I’m very glad I did because Sam and Max Save The World Remastered is fantastic fun and a really solid remaster of a game from two console generations ago.
Initially I didn’t really notice the upgrade that’s been done here, which is a credit to how great it looks. Beyond some occasional rough edges and textures, this could definitely pass for a modern game and runs pretty well too. It’s only when you look back at the original release that you see just how impressive the whole remaster is, because it is genuinely a night and day improvement across the board. That goes for the new music too, which is perfectly tuned to the experience.
For the uninitiated, Sam and Max are anthropomorphised freelance police that get called out to solve whacky crimes in a cartoonish world. The focus of the series as a whole is on outlandish humour and seeing how the pair manage to solve each mystery that they’re presented with. In Save the World, that focus is split up into six different episodes that are mostly self-contained, but all focus on hypnosis and end up tying into one another to form one bigger story.
If you’re hoping for a gripping narrative, that’s not really what Sam and Max Save The World Remastered is about. The mysteries are a lot of fun and provide interesting locations and setpieces for the adventure, but they still rely on contravencies and cartoon logic to get by for the sake of being funny. The only thing I’d call consistent is Sam and Max’s relationship with each other and the few recurring characters and just seeing how they all bounce off one another.
As you’d probably expect from the title characters, Sam and Max absolutely carry the adventures here. Sam’s overly long catchphrases and regular joe in a cartoon dog body attitude work fantastically with Max’s genuine psychosis and lack of morality. It’s the first point-and-click adventure where I didn’t mind clicking on everything just to hear the pair chat about asinine things.
Each mystery on its own isn’t particularly interesting, but the focus here is really on the comedy and I’d say it’s a pretty big success in that regard. I wasn’t laughing out loud all the time, but there were some really funny moments and the use of clever humour meant I was consistently smiling at what was happening on screen. There are a few duds and moments where the game prioritizes the humour over having a fun puzzle, but the whole journey was made worthwhile for me because of the stellar writing.
Beyond the humour, the main draw of Sam and Max Save The World Remastered is its point-and-click gameplay, and that’s the part that I’m slightly less enthused about. I enjoy the genre, but I think it’s reliant on the quality of its puzzles and how far the logic is stretched to figure things out. Sam and Max Save The World Remastered really walks the line there because it’s obviously more focused on cartoony humour and as such the logic isn’t always so obvious.
Characters will help you out a bit if you get stuck, but there were far too many times when the solution felt a bit too out of left-field. If you don’t mind using every item with stuff in the environment then it’s not a problem, but I found that after a while I wished things could be a bit simpler. Then again, I haven’t played too many titles in the point and click genre that don’t have this contrived sense of logic, so perhaps it’s incredibly fitting.
An element of the game that isn’t as excusable is the back-tracking and repetition. As much fun as it is to explore the environments, it’s really annoying to have to go back and forth between areas without some sort of map travel option. I liked seeing how things would change between episodes, but by the fifth time you’re going over to Bosco’s or Sybil’s, it can get a little bit old.
Saying that, I think that repetition is helped by the game’s episodic nature. Each episode can take between two and three hours to complete and that felt like a really nice way of playing. Playing an episode before bed was surprisingly relaxing, and I think that the repetition would really have set in if this had been one full adventure.
Seeing the work that’s been done to the first season of Sam and Max has me really hoping that Skunkape continues on to do the next two seasons, as I really do think that there’s a ton of potential there. Even if they don’t, Sam and Max Save The World Remastered is a fantastic reminder of the fun of the point-and-click genre and how beloved the titular duo really are.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Skunkape Games