"Let's get the forewarning over with now: if you've not been playing Season 2, then the end chapter is not the place to start. In fact, you shouldn't really be reading this: I just spoiled the ending of 203 by revealing the death of the villain."
What can I say about Sam & Max: 205 that I’ve not said a dozen times? Well, nothing, but that’s never stopped me before.
What’s New, Beelzebub? does everything I’ve already mentioned in the dozen or so reviews I've written for earlier chapters of the episodic series. There are still limited locations to explore, some of the cast’s appeal is starting to wane from over exposure and some of the puzzles are still the wrong side of ‘too easy’. And yet I still love the games -- and, specifically, this episode -- regardless.
This time the pair's now-obligatory change of scenery has them go to Hell. Note the capital ‘H’. It designates the actual place, not a colourful euphemism for everyday misery. I'm bound to end up there for the crime of awful puns, if nothing else.
It was bound to happen, really, and in the deepest pits of despair they find that Hell is a lot more corporate than biblical references would have you believe. The pits of spluttering sulphur are merely a backdrop for a sterile, air-conditioned office housing a spacious reception area (manned by Sam & Max: 203's lead nemesis, Jurgen) and a cramped office in the back where dispatched villains crunch numbers rather than sinners.
Let's get the forewarning over with now: if you've not been playing Season 2, then the end chapter is not the place to start. In fact, you shouldn't really be reading this: I just spoiled the ending of 203 by revealing the death of the villain.
But for those that have been keeping pace with the series, then you'll be pleased to hear that 205 is a fantastic wrap-up for Telltale's second season of surreal sleuthing that builds perfectly upon all the lose ends the series has left flapping since the dog and rabbity-thing duo overthrew Brady Culture all the way back in Episode 1. Even Brady himself proudly sits in his cubicle in Hell, boasting about how he worked his way up from an office temp to full time.
What's New, Beelzebub? brings conclusions for nearly every question ever asked, and manages to bring in every character the eleven-strong episodes have ever housed, even if it's only in a purely cameo role. But it's very much appreciated -- especially when the lesser-known members are made fun of. While wandering through their own reserved wing of Hell (put aside for everyone the pair have killed, knowingly or not, throughout their adventures) Sam comments how surprised he is that they'd not come across any of the Toy Mafia they blew up back in episode 103. Max shrugs and informs him that they weren't popular enough while Agent Chuckles wanders though the office towards the water cooler.
Mr Spatula lives in the water cooler. He's still really angry at you.
The best thing about 205 is its attention to detail. There’s little touches made throughout that, while completely meaningless to the average Joe, are instantly recognisable to those who have played through Sam & Max’s new-age offerings, and it’s hugely appreciated. I’ve always loved how Telltale have refused to reset their newest episodes and/or seasons and continue things such as Max’s presidency, that many thought would be quietly forgotten. These things never are; they’re built upon and referenced in witty little paraphernalia and spoken item descriptions, be it the Max Impeachment Weekly magazine or the sock-crown on the hat-rack.
Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about really should do yourself a favour and catch up with those of us that do. You’re missing out on a fantastic series of games that have just been blessed with one extremely well-produced conclusion.
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