Sam & Max 204: Chariots of the Dogs Review (PC)

Anyone who has read my previous reviews knows that I’m a big fan of the Sam and Max games. In fact I think my reply when my editor mentioned that a new one was ready for review was along the lines of ‘mine, mine, mine.’

Breaking and entering!


Chariots of the Dogs represents the tenth episode for the dynamic duo since TellTale games took the reigns and started Season 1 last year. If you’re seriously interested in the history of Sam and Max and the previous episodes head back to the previous reviews since I’m starting to sound like a broken record repeating said history. Though a bit of repetition might be appropriate considering the nature of Chariots of the Dogs which starts as a story of alien abduction and ends up in a romp through time as only Sam and Max could do it. Naw…forward for us.

Chariots of the Dogs picks up right where Night of the Raving Dead left off with Flint Paper explaining the disappearance of Bosco, the rather neurotic owner of the inconvenience shop, and asking for help. Even before the credits roll Sam and Max shoot their way into the shop, defeat a laser grid, complete every child’s favorite science project and get abducted by aliens in the process. Just another day for the dog and hyper kinetic rabbity thing!

As in previous episodes Chariots of the Dogs shines in most of its technical aspects. The graphics continue to carry the flavor of the series with smooth animation and effects, presenting both old characters and new in a loving comic book style. The background music track is well done and mood setting without being overt or obnoxious and the voice acting, as always, rocks.

From a puzzle point of view the level of difficulty is about right. Most of the clues to what I needed were pretty plain and I only got caught up a time or two before I figured out what needed to happen next. There weren’t any mini games in this offering, and while I missed the car the change up was nice too. Die hard adventure gamers may still find the puzzles lacking, but taken within the context of the Sam and Max universe they’re well balanced.

Awww…like mother like test tube son.

The real Stinky! We’ve missed him.

Now, the story and gameplay pros and cons that really struck me:

The biggest pro is the way Chariots of the Dogs connects themes, characters, storylines and gags from both Seasons one and two. We revisit familiar areas, such as the oval office, that we’ve not seen in several episodes and get glimpses into the past of locals such as Stinky’s even meeting the original Stinky. These were fun, particularly because most of the travel was all done through a time traveling elevator, an obvious nod to classics such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Dr. Who. Chariots of the Dogs also ends on a cliffhanger as to the fate of our adventuring pair and has a fun end scene after the credits. Hang around to read the list of TellTale pets and see where the universe began.

The con with this episode was in the humor. I generally love Sam and Max style humor. It’s irreverent, culturally relevant and can be taken on many levels. In Chariots of the Dogs there were several times that I felt like I was hanging out with a bunch of fifteen year old boys. Not to say that there weren’t some very clever moments, in puzzles, gags and gameplay, but spelling out ‘boobies’ on a keypad and the innuendo jokes about baby making were lame and broke me out of the game and into groaning. The language is also coarser in this episode which felt like a cop out, being crude instead of clever. I’ve come to expect more from the writing, no matter how bizarre the Sam and Max situations.

So this is what a space ship looks like…

You’d think it’d creep Sam and Max out to keep meeting themselves.

Overall I have no regrets about my time with Sam and Max and am looking forward to the Season Finale next month. I just hope the writers can keep dishing up what I, and I suspect others, have come to expect from their wit. It’s a rough job…but that’s why they make the big bucks, right?

Top Gaming Moment: Heh…I like Bosco the cow-man… It’s just so ironic.