Sam & Max: Episode 204 - Chariots of the Dogs Review

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Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games


Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 800 MHz Processor, 256 MB RAM, 32 MB video card, Windows XP or more recent operating system

Bosco, the paranoid and surly proprietor of Bosco's Inconvenience recently disappeared, and it looks like he's gone a lot further than just some secret hidey-hole. Working with their neighbor and private dick Flint Paper to locate Bosco, Sam & Max stumble upon a secret so large it might lead to the true identity of "T-H-E-M"!

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


Just in case the Moai heads and Bermuda Triangles from Episode 203 didn't tip you off, Chariots of the Dogs' Erich von Daeniken reference should let you know that the Freelance Police's latest misadventures involve a space ship. Little did we know that Bosco's seeming paranoid delusions are grounded in reality, even if it is a reality tied to the men in gigantic hats that have made such mysterious cameos in the earlier episodes this season.

The real brilliance of Chariots of the Dogs is the way everything so carefully ties in to earlier Season 2 episodes. Certainly, the conclusion of Season 1 nicely resolved the season's plot elements, but carefully considered character cameos and cunningly concealed props have all lead up to events of Chariots of the Dogs, making the experience all the more satisfying. Even that one extraneous item in Night of the Raving Dead that just seemed like a clever reference now plays a critical role.

To set things right (and recover Bosco), Sam and Max will have to travel through the time stream, Bill & Ted style, in a plot that cleverly reuses past locations in a way that makes both the locations and familiar characters seem fresh and new. Not only is time travel considerably easier than walking from place to place (or even driving the unbelievably fast and sometimes extra-atmospheric DeSoto), Chariots of the Dogs lets players encounter entirely new locations and characters. Finally, I got to see the inside of Bosco's bathroom (that Whizzer had visited oh-so-many times), met the original Stinky and even got to cry over spilt milk.

Chariots of the Dogs really becomes laugh-out-loud funny when you learn how birthdays are inextricably tied to the time stream, and discover that the birthday moments from previous episodes aren't just a non-sequitor or running gag. Too bad cultural stereotypes can't have birthdays of their own.

For me, the puzzles in Chariots of the Dogs hit just the right balance. They were satisfying to solve, but none were so difficult that they gave me much pause. In every case, there was plenty of information hinting at the solutions without most puzzles being telegraphed or too obvious. Chariots of the Dogs offers more than enough play time for the price – the only unsatisfying thing about Chariots of the Dogs is the painful cliff-hanger at the end. Until now, Sam & Max episodes have been good about resolving something while building to the season finale. Chariots of the Dogs sets gamers up for the Season Two finale next month, but really left me hanging. If you do play this one, make sure you at least stay tuned until after the credits.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on March 13, 2008 12:31 AM.

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