Sam & Max - Culture Shock is the first installment in a series of episodic adventure games based on the popular comic book characters. The downloadable episodes are available to Windows users from Telltale Games. Set in New York City and starring the anthropomorphic dog Sam and his hyperactive rabbit partner Max, the pair of freelance police investigate crimes in the name of, well, boredom. There's no shortage of wit in this game and you can expect to laugh on more than one occasion.
After recovering their stolen phone from a no-good rat (literally, a rat took it), Sam and Max discover that a group of former child stars have been committing crimes around town. The little vandals are relentlessly promoting ocular fitness guru Brady Culture and his eye exercise videos. But why? After stopping by a psychotherapy clinic/tattoo parlor and Bosco's Inconvenience store, Sam and Max begin to unravel the mysterious mystery behind the strange happenings.
Sam & Max - Culture Shock is an extraordinarily classy and humorous game. The visuals look like they were culled from the pages of a comic book yet still have a fluid 3D feel. The interface is pleasingly simple: just point-and-click, no icons or cursor changes to worry about. It all boils down to a game that is largely dialogue driven with a few adventure-style puzzles patched in to keep things moving along.
Analysis: Modern-made adventure games are usually a hit or miss for me. Some are wonderfully imaginative, deep, thoughtful or just plain engaging, while others miss the mark entirely. Sam & Max - Culture Shock is easily one of the best adventure games I've played this year, largely due to the extreme dose of wit injected into each and every scene. Conversations with characters are hilarious and I found myself investigating every branch of the dialogue tree just to see what crazy things would pop up next. Roughly 90% of what you examine in the game is just for fun, but I was clicking on everything I could to see what Sam and Max had to say.
Sam & Max - Culture Shock offers great dialogue, excellent voice acting and more humor than you can shake a long thin piece of wood at. The final product is worth its weight in rabbit fur. Maybe even more. Future episodes will be released each month, so keep an eye out for more adventuring goodness.
Cheers to Gino for reminding us about this one!