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Game: Sam & Max Season 1 Episode 5: Reality 2.0
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Year: 2007
Reviewed: 2008
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

Latest Sam and Max game. Episodic. Fifth episode. Monthly releases. Adventure game. You know all this stuff so I’ll skip it and save myself the incredible effort of writing a few lines. Reality 2.0 puts Sam and Max against their greatest opponent yet, the internet. It turns out that the internet is actually female and has a weird green digital feminine face which talks. Not only that, but it turns out that she is trying to hypnotise everyone to keep them in a virtual world, the new superior Reality 2.0. Thankfully, due to the lead characters’ convenient resistance to hypnotism, they can go in and try to find a way to shut it down. Of course, they’ll first have to try and find a way in.

Sam and Max S1E5 Internet
If only the internet really looked like this…

Reality 2.0 continues the improvements started with the previous episode. One complaint that some players had about earlier episodes was that in the standard locations that appear in every game, the descriptions of items were nearly all the same. I didn’t mind this too much, since each episode is really just another part of the same game, but it’s nice that they’ve taken the player feedback into consideration and now all the items have brand new descriptions and some new jokes associated with them. And then you get to explore the new digital Reality 2.0 versions of all the locations.

As always, the puzzles are interesting, and again, are slightly more challenging than in the first three episodes. They also have a slightly different feel to them, since for the second half of the game they mostly involve manipulating the digital world in various ways in order to achieve your goals. It’s this virtual reality that is the focal point of the game, and it’s very well realised. The world is rendered in a TRON-like style and is packed full of references to and jokes about other games and internet features. There’s probably more jokes crammed into each scene here than any of the games so far, and that’s saying something. All the usual computer terminology turns up with a bizarre visual representation, such as huge fiery walls blocking the way and road signs with computer error messages. There’s even a section with a spoof of the Final Fantasy style combat system, though you win the fight through trickery rather than force.

Sam and Max S1E5 Firewall
I can’t imagine what this could be…

*Slight spoiler warning for following paragraph*
Then we get the ending of the game, which manages to be one of the funniest moments in the series so far. Having succeeded in shutting down Reality 2.0, everything goes black for a while before Reality 1.5 boots up, and we enter a deteriorating text adventure version of the world. It’s still played with the mouse, with Sam and Max standing in the lower part of the screen and you choosing options from a menu using the usual conversation menu system. All the things you try result in amusing comments and jokes about the usual conventions of interactive fiction. It’s such a funny, unusual idea that just emphasises the amount of imagination put into the series compared to most modern adventure games.
*End of slight spoiler warning*

Overall, Reality 2.0 continues the series well, being at least as good as, if not better than, Abe Lincoln Must Die! The only down side is that I was unfortunate enough to encounter the first bug in the whole series, where a section involving choosing colours to paint your car didn’t actually display any of the colours chosen, instead leaving your car black and white. The game still acted as though your car had changed colour though, but something was obviously wrong when it didn’t visibly change. But a single bug in five episodes is fairly good compared to most games, and it wasn’t a big issue. Reality 2.0 is still a very good game, and worth playing for any adventure fan.

Save System Review: As usual, save anywhere and autosave. And this time, a single save point to go with it.
Graphics: Same as before, as expected. The virtual world also has a nice TRON-style look to it.
Sound: Once again, the sound is first rate, with good voice acting and a great soundtrack.
Bugs: Just the one bug mentioned above, the first I’ve found in the entire series.
Gameplay: The puzzles are quite easy but more challenging than the first few episodes, and are always fun to solve.
Storyline/Dialogue: The storyline is basic but is a good way of setting up the puzzles, which fit well into the environments. The dialogue is very funny, continuing the improvements from the previous episode.

Arbitrary Final Score: 4 stars

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