After the superb first episode, the follow-up was always going to struggle to match it for quality. The first episode ended with a gruesome discovery in the basement of our heroes’ building, which leads the plot of the second to descend into a Day of the Tentacle-style time-bending farce.
The discovery of four reels of film reveals the story of the freelance detectives’ grandfathers, Sameth and Maximus, whose own adventure you get to control. Each reel can be played at any time, except the fourth one – the finale – which is saved until each of the other three have concluded.
The first reel sees the twosome attempting to win a competition for a trip to the titular Tomb and a search for an infamous treasure. The second is set in the Tomb itself and the third on the train back home. Puzzles are primarily related to flipping between the reels and using information discovered in one to solve problems in another. This can mean that clues from the future impact on puzzles and events in the past. But don’t worry: this is Sam & Max – things aren’t meant to make sense.
Things are a bit more challenging this time around because of the whole time travel aspect, but the chopping and changing of time lines can lead to things feeling a little disjointed at times, and while the re-introduction of old characters from Season 2 (Santa Claus, the elves, and the vampire Jurgen) is welcome, they don’t bring as many laughs as were in the previous episode.
The removal of the future vision psychic power, replaced with two very amusing alternatives – the Can O’ Nuts and the Ventriloquist’s Dummy – makes puzzle-solving less simplistic, leading you to keep thinking, “Could this problem be solved by squishing down into a very small tin can?” All adventure games could do with that question being asked.
The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is definitely one of Telltale’s best efforts and proves that this season’s first episode wasn’t a fluke. As irreverent and downright goofy as ever, with baby aviators, the use of mole hexes to solve puzzles, finding a cow to milk on a busy train and all sorts of other bizarre set pieces all contributing to just another day at the (century old) office. And milking cows is all you can ask for in an adventure game, really.
Jun 22, 2010