I’ve been very negative of episodic games before, mostly because I don’t want video games to turn into soap opera stories that string you along forever because they want to keep selling you games. This was a real concern with Dreamfall, which brought the tale to a gut-wrenching low and then abandoned the player without any assurance that a sequel would be made.
(The jury is still out for me on Half-Life 2. I thought the ending to the game itself was a cheap cliffhanger, the opening of Episode 1 was a deus ex machina, and that episode ended in a cliffhanger as well. I’m not crazy about this, but unlike Dreamfall Half-Life is more than just the story. It has fantastic gameplay to back up the story. I’m ready to forgive Valve’s cliffhanger excesses if they can bring Episode 3 to a satisfying close.)
|Sam & Max, freelance police.|
Sam and Max are “freelance police”. Sam is a Humphrey Bogart-ish dog. Max is his insane saw-toothed bunny rabbit sidekick. The two of them inhabit a world otherwise populated by humans who don’t seem to question the existence of a Dog & Rabbit freelance police team. This is modern adventure gaming at its best: Click on stuff, listen to the funny dialog, pick up everything that isn’t nailed down, solve puzzles, and watch the surreal events unfold.
I can’t sum up the plot in any meaningful way. It’s just too strange. Episode 4 is titled Abe Lincoln Must Die! and indeed you do meet Abe Lincoln, visit the White House, and sucker-punch the President of the United States. (Sort of.) The game steers clear of partisan politicial humor and aims for more universal themes like “the government wastes a lot of money” and “politicians are liars”. This is a smart move not just because it appeals to people all over the political spectrum, but because the more specific, headline-driven humor tends to age poorly and quickly. The game got me to laugh a number of times.
You can get the full game here. On the right you can see a big green button for “Get the free DEMO”, and just to the left of that is a link to “buy” the full game for $0.00. Yes I realize that is strange. No, I don’t know why it’s like that.
It’s nice to see adventure games thriving again. I’m sorry I didn’t check out this franchise sooner. Great stuff.
Push the Button!
Scenes from Half-Life 2:Episode 2, showing Gordon Freeman being a jerk.
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