The beauty of the video games market today is the sheer diversity of the characters that star in them. Some of these manage to capture the attention of players almost straight away. Despite only starring in a small number of adventures, Sam & Max commanded a dedicated following of fans as soon as they entered into the virtual world.

Believe it or not, Sam & Max have been around in one form or another for well over 30 years. Originally introduced to the world via a series of comics, the irreverent dog and rabbit duo have been solving cases in the video game world since 1993. However, it’s only more recently that they have made something of a comeback.

Last year the first season of episodes, Sam & Max: Save the World, were remastered and brought bang up to date. It hasn’t taken long, but Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space sees the same treatment given to the second season of adventures.

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Both characters go by the title of “freelance police”, and despite seeking to uphold the law and solve cases, they generally leave chaos in their wake. Sam is a calm, considered six foot dog in a suit and fedora who has a nose for justice, whilst Max is a small hyperactive rabbit who favours the more direct approach. And by that I mean he’s somewhat maniacal and obsessed with guns. Together they make a rather wonderful, madcap comedy duo who may have more between them than meets the eye. You’ll be rooting for them to succeed from the very start, despite their rather unorthodox methods.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space consists of five episodes that were originally released separately. The first is centred around a gun toting, paranoid Santa Claus which is perfect timing for Christmas. Before long, you’re back on the familiar street where your office lies, whilst an exotic island, alien spaceship and a zombie disco hosted in a German castle await you. All episodes are interconnected, and each is more bizarre than the last. There are several brilliant moments, such as figuring out the lyrics to an incantation song or building a monster who is perfect dating material. It’s an utterly intriguing and fascinating world to explore.

Each episode and it’s characters are brilliantly written. You’ll meet Stinky the restaurant owner who raises many questions about how she came to run the joint, Sybil who is unlucky in love and Jurgen the Eurotrash vampire to name but a few. A wicked sense of humour runs through Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space and it’s rammed with pop culture riffs (a personal highlight being the “torture me elmer” doll) whilst being very self-aware at the same time. 

What results is a genuinely funny adventure populated with charming characters who are brilliantly voiced, meaning you’ll want to interact with them all. You’ll have several options for discussion with the main cast, and at times you’ll be able to switch between Sam & Max to engineer a specific outcome. It’s honestly worth working through every single line of dialogue as they don’t disappoint.

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The graphic adventure unfolds with a point and click gameplay mechanic for interacting with objects and characters. As detectives, your role is to take on several strange cases, question a number of new and returning characters, hunt for items and then figure out how to use them to gather more clues in order to solve the mystery. 

You can highlight all the points of interest, if you wish to explore every possible avenue for clues. It’s fairly easy to cycle through them and select the point you wish to interact with, which is good news as you’ll be doing that most of the time. The only issue I encountered was Sam sometimes walking around characters in a circular motion when commanding him to interact with them, rather than heading directly over.

At certain points, the gameplay will flip and you’ll be thrown into a mini-game style challenge, such as balancing a drinks tray whilst standing on a bucking surfboard or spinning the decks at a zombie disco. If you get bored, you can head back to the office for a game of Whack-a-Mole or take your car out for a spin. You’ll never guess exactly what’s coming next, and that’s a wonderful part of the experience.

As lovingly crafted as the universe of Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space is, each case is relatively straight forward. It will take you roughly two hours per episode to complete, by deducing which items need to be used and when. You can, of course, choose to press on with the task at hand but then you’ll be missing out on so much more.

It may well be me, but at certain points I found it a little difficult to figure out what to do to proceed. Logic prevailed for the most part, but at times you would need to speak to someone, or use an item that felt a little arbitrary and didn’t necessarily make sense. This was only occasionally, and provided  a few bumps in a game that otherwise flows very well. You can chat to Max for some insight in where to head next, which may help you figure it out.

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So far, most of what I’ve covered is more or less as it was in the original game. The big difference in this remaster is the presentation. The HD visuals look much better, and vibrant, than the originals. I still love the animated intros, and Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space also comes with improved lip-sync animation and cinematography. Developers Skunkape Games have also included eight new tracks recorded by live jazz musicians to breathe new life into the game. 

This remaster is purely cosmetic and those with gameplay criticisms will see the same issues here, despite them being relatively minor in my humble opinion. That’s not to say that Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space isn’t still a brilliant game, it just feels like a missed opportunity to fine tune it into an outstanding one. At £16.74 however, it’s very difficult to complain.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space remains a charming, funny and downright weird adventure, many years after the original release. Despite a few niggles, the new polish means there’s never been a better time to dust off your magnifying glass and attempt to crack the case.

Go Beyond Time and Space with Sam & Max from the Xbox Store

The beauty of the video games market today is the sheer diversity of the characters that star in them. Some of these manage to capture the attention of players almost straight away. Despite only starring in a small number of adventures, Sam & Max commanded a dedicated following of fans as soon as they entered into the virtual world. Believe it or not, Sam & Max have been around in one form or another for well over 30 years. Originally introduced to the world via a series of comics, the irreverent dog and rabbit duo have been solving cases in…

Pros:

  • Looks and sounds great
  • Great value bundle
  • Fantastic story and cast of characters
  • Controls well on the whole

Cons:

  • Pure guesswork required at times to proceed
  • Improvements are purely cosmetic

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Skunkape Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date -8 Nov 2021
  • Launch price from - £16.74
TXH Score

4/5

Pros:

  • Looks and sounds great
  • Great value bundle
  • Fantastic story and cast of characters
  • Controls well on the whole

Cons:

  • Pure guesswork required at times to proceed
  • Improvements are purely cosmetic

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Skunkape Games
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  • Version reviewed - Xbox One on Xbox Series X
  • Release date -8 Nov 2021
  • Launch price from - £16.74

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