Sam & Max Season 3 Episode 5: The City That Dares Not Sleep Review (PC)
Posted by Jim Cook, Aug 30, 2010 08:18
Sam & Max went through some big changes this season, aiming for near simultaneous release on multiple platforms (with an interface that clearly welcomed users on a variety of systems) while adding new game mechanics and running with some pretty strange ideas even by the series’ usual standards. While there have been a few mis-steps it has worked out pretty well overall, and now we’re at the season finale. It’s everything the end to a story should be, with excellent pacing, writing, and a general lack of any serious flaws.
Discussing these episodes is difficult since one has to avoid spoilers, but there is still plenty to talk about. As the previous episode might have suggested, this one is mostly Sam’s show and Max, while not wholly uninvolved, definitely takes a back seat. Fair’s fair; Max has been in the spotlight for much of the season. This places much more emphasis on conventional adventure play, seeking out items and talking with people to figure out what you need to do. There will be some times where supernatural solutions are involved, but for the most part this is a return to the sort of play style you saw in previous seasons... albeit very refined and laid out.
The writing brings most of the story threads from previous episodes together into an interesting whole, with some things going as you would expect while others are pretty impressive swerves. On the comedy side of things, Episode 5 is an oddity for the series in that very few of its jokes are side-splitting funny yet at the same time almost none of them fall flat or get run into the ground. Instead, you’re given lots of humor that ranges from being worth an amused smirk at the very least, and will draw plenty of short laughs on any other occasion. In other words, you will be consistently entertained.
Puzzle pacing deserves a special note here, as most of them are extremely intuitive. This doesn’t mean they’re easy, but rather they flow well; even your failures will usually give you some gradual clue as to what you did wrong and what you need to work on, leading up to that final "a-ha!" moment where you understand the solution. There are one or two brief segments that will require ’pixel hunting’ to find everything you need, but once you understand how those puzzles are laid out things will quickly come together, so it’s easily forgiven.
The voice acting is consistently solid and funny while the music is extremely good, even by the composer’s usual standards; expect the soundtrack to hit a wide range of tones and themes, and do it so well that you eagerly keep playing, sucked into the story at hand. Yes, that is strange praise to give for a very silly series like Sam & Max but the music this time around more than earns it. Given the sound (both voice and music) is one of the most important parts of a Sam & Max episode, this works out very well.
Rating: 0.0, votes: 0