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Sam & Max: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak (PC) artwork

Sam & Max: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak (PC) review


"Forget about this shaping up to be the best Sam & Max season yet: this is shaping up to be the best thing Telltale have produces thus far."



When the start of Telltaleís third series of Sam & Max hit my review pile, I was dutifully impressed. The writing was as hilarious as ever, the puzzles had been given an extra layer of challenge previous entries had lacked, and the entire thing had been pounded into a stumbling sense of insanity and surrealism. The game raised Max from the unenviable role of useless sidekick good for only bouts of comedic relief and gave the shark-toothed rabbity-thing a new sense of purpose by bequeathing him psychic powers and a new first-person viewed outlook to the game. The Penal Zone faced the pair off against a space-conquering ape chasing after the Devilís Toybox and all the toys inside. These toys granted the owner magical powers and, as such, threw both Sam and Max around the episode like rag dolls in a washer. Anyone expecting the ride to be smoother in The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is quickly proven wrong.

Stuck in the same cobwebbed boiler room the last chapter left them, Sam & Max are confronted with an eerie, macabre glimpse at the past when they discover two skeletal frames with more than a passing resemblance to themselves. Further searching leads to the discovery of an ancient reel-loaded film projector. Itís through this medium that the game plays out; itís a recording of the pairís ancestors, Sameth and Maximus, and their eventual excavation of the Egyptian tomb of Sammun-Mak.

To this end, Telltale once again play havoc with the timeline. If the pair get stuck in one section of the story, the player can simply switch reels, fast-forwarding or rewinding the plot at will, to try and find the answer somewhere else. When Baby Amelia Earhartís excitable nature keeps landing you in trouble, a jump forward might find help you discover the best way to calm her down. When a magical toy is being held hostage by a bunch of underpaid and overworked elves living in the slums, perhaps a jaunt backwards in time might find something you can use to barter with.

The chaotic pace of a game bitch-slapping a continuous time-line is brilliantly in keeping with Sam & Maxís unpredictable sense of humour. There are still control issues in how the game insists upon an uncomfortable mouse-drag/WASD set-up to move around (a set-up vital for its iPad port) but it manages to pick up pace from what was already a fantastic start. Itís worth noting that, back in the founding chapters of Telltaleís reinvention of Sam & Max, one of the biggest complaints levelled at the episodic series was the constant rehashing of backdrops. The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is a game built completely off totally original locations.

This doesnít stop the game from chucking in characters from previous seasons to give those who have been along for the entire ride something new to chuckle at. You even get the origins of Episode 203: Night of the Raving DeadĎs excellent villain and how he joined the ranks of the undead to begin with. Forget about this shaping up to be the best Sam & Max season yet: this is shaping up to be the best thing Telltale have produced thus far.

Rating: 9/10

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 30, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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wolfqueen001 posted June 15, 2010:

This is nice for a review of a game in a long-standing series such as this, especially since these are exceptionally hard to write. You're getting the essentials out in each installment, and at this point, that's probably what matters most since those reading reviews of these recent games, they'll be more interested in that. I'm also glad you don't seem to have gotten tired of it already, heheh.

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