Game: Sam & Max Season 1 Episode 4: Abe Lincoln Must Die!
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Year: 2007
Reviewed: 2008
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

A month later and another Sam and Max game. It’s the fourth of the episodic series, blah blah, featuring Sam and Max, etc, etc. See the earlier reviews if you want a vague idea of the series as a whole because I can’t be bothered going over it all again. Anyway, this time the pair discover the President has been hypnotised and set out to save him in the way they always stop hypnosis: by punching him in the face while wearing a huge boxing glove. However, things move on from there, and Max ends up running for president and finally having to try to stop a giant statue reincarnation of Abraham Lincoln from rampaging through the city. As you can tell, it’s a fairly realistic game.

Sam and Max S1E4 White House
You are standing in front of a white house. The original Zork enters the graphical era.

The quality in writing has been increasing from game to game in this series so far, but it’s with this episode that it stops taking small steps forward and moves on to the giant leaps. This game is funnier, with better jokes through the whole game, more interesting situations that feel more like what you expect from Sam and Max than the last couple of episodes have been, and just general improvements all around. The setting is obviously more political than the games ever have been before, and there’s some genuine political satire in there. The revelations about the president and the campaign to get Max elected in particular might seem completely insane, but they’re also well realised parodies of the real events and of political manipulation. Don’t worry though, the game is also still full of the usual Sam and Max style hilariously bizarre humour, and Max’s violent tendencies make him a believable president of America.

It’s not just the writing that has reached a new high though. A lot more work seems to have been put into the puzzles this time around. While they’re still fairly easy, they do take a bit more thought than they did before, and feel like they’re integrated properly into the plot this time rather than just being there for the sake of adding puzzles. The goals are always clear, since they’re pretty much stated in the description of the plot at the start of this review. You always know what you’re trying to achieve. And while the puzzles fit into the plot better, they’re still as inventive as ever. You even get to start a war between North and South Dakota (and a newly formed West Dakota), run by those annoying gits the Soda Poppers.

Sam and Max S1E4 President
Max might not seem like the ideal president, but things look differently when you consider the alternatives…

The voice acting is first rate once again, with the actors now fitting their roles perfectly. Special mention has to go to the music, which has been wonderful throughout the whole series, and this game is no exception. The soundtrack fits the themes of the game. But best of all, at one point you get a big satirical Busby Berkeley style musical sequence with a secret agent singing about how wonderful war is. It’s a fantastic scene that seems to come from nowhere, and continues the trend of funny songs integrated into the plot, like the Mafia free song from the last episode.

All this leads to the conclusion that Abe Lincoln Must Die! is easily the best game in Season One so far, and is highly recommended. And what’s more, it’s the episode that they’ve chosen to release completely free. And although all the episodes put together do tell an ongoing story, each one also works as a self-contained game. It can be downloaded at a cost of £0, or if you’re American, $0, from the official website http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax, or through Steam if you have it.

Save System Review: Save anywhere, autosaves, same system as before, it hasn’t been sabotaged.
Graphics: The same brilliant cartoon style graphics.
Sound: Spectacular soundtrack and great voice acting, some of the best sound around.
Bugs: Again, just the one, of the insect variety.
Gameplay: Much improved from before, the puzzles are still fairly easy but require more thought than before and are fitted into the game world better.
Storyline/Dialogue: The dialogue is sharp and witty and the storyline is actually interesting this time round in its own right rather than feeling like filler material as Episode 3 did.

Arbitrary Final Score: 4 stars

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