Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sam and Max: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak

The second chapter of Sam and Max's third season is possibly the most inspired in the series. It all stems from the premise, which is rather brilliant. At the end of the first episode, Sam and Max discover what appears to be their own skeletons locked in a struggle, but they soon learn it's a couple of their ancestors, Sameth and Maximus, and find a series of films detailing their exploits along with a projector. Thus the game introduces its central conceit: you must play as Sameth and Maximus within these different film reels to discover the secret behind their deaths. But you can't just do it chronologically - you'll need information from one reel to get past an obstacle in another. What results is the largest causality loop I've ever seen. The characters will be unable to remember what they did earlier in the story until you experience it yourself, and get past tricky situations using knowledge they won't learn until later on. It makes no sense and it's a ton of fun.

Without the goofy central mechanic, it would still be a pretty good episode of Sam and Max. It's a classic adventure story, as you solve a riddle, ride a couple trains filled with people out to get you, and explore an ancient Egyptian tomb. There's a lot of messing with mole people and curses and accusations and fun stuff like that. It looks as nice as the first chapter, and the voice acting is still solid, helping the comedy along. The puzzles actually aren't that different from a normal episode if you just think of the different time periods as different locations, but they're still good for the series. Maximus has a totally different set of psychic toys to work with than Max did in the first episode, providing a different set of challenges. I've already played the next two chapters and didn't like them quite as much as the first two, but it's still been a stellar season for the crime fighting anthropomorphic duo.

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