Review – Sam & Max Episode 6: Bright Side of The Moon

Here it is, the final episode in the only episodic series that’s actually managed to do something with itself. Six games in as many months is something that Telltale Games should be proud of, but they get another pat on the back for doing such a good job. Season 1 was very much a learning experience, both for themselves and for the fans. Throughout the journey, Telltale has shown definite signs of listening to their audience and learning from their mistakes. Bright Side of the Moon fixes a lot of problems from past episodes, and is all-around the most solid effort of the six games. Funny, lengthy and fun to play, I was sad to see this one come to an end.

The first five episodes sometimes struggled with the balancing act of keeping the puzzles tough but not obtuse and also keeping the humor strong, all in a very tight timeframe. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, and ultimately Ep. 6 gets it down pat. The puzzles have the directness of the earlier episodes, but like the later installments, they aren’t always quite clear. This works so well because of the new hint system, which keeps track of what puzzles you have active and lets you ask Max for clues. These clues are just enough to point you in the right direction without spelling it out, and make the puzzles much more enjoyable. Even if I didn’t know what to do right off the bat, I always knew where to be, and that saved me from a lot of meaningless wandering. I hope to see this continue in future seasons, because I really believe they hit the jackpot. Definitely some of the most enjoyable puzzles in the whole season.

There’s an interview on 1up in which some of the Telltale developers claim one of their goals for Bright Side of the Moon was to make the whole thing “funnier” than before. I think the goal was certainly met. Some of it is due to simple changes like recording new jokes for some of the objects lying around the office and the street block. In general, the humor succeeds because it is less focused on a specific topic of parody. Ep. 6 brings almost every character from the past together, which means a lot of varied material to work with. It also helps that they’ve once again freshened up our pals Sybil and Bosco, both of which are in fine, ridiculous form. Their sheer absurdity this time around is enough to give everyone a laugh, and it just goes to show that you can have repetition in an episode without things getting stale, so long as it’s creative enough.

Finally, Bright Side of the Moon definitely feels longer than past installments. Length has never been a strict requirement for me when it comes to episodic content, but in this case it felt necessary in order to wrap the whole season up. We can say goodbye to all the folks we’ve met and finally finish off the case. When the credits rolled and the excellent end of season montage began, I was left wanting more, but at the same time I was certainly satisfied.

So the final question for Season 1 is this: what can we expect from future seasons of Sam and Max? If they follow Episode 6 at all, we may be in store for some of the best nuggets of gaming goodness every month. But it’s tough to say whether this will be the exception or the norm. Something gives me the feeling that there was an extra bit of effort put into this one in order to end the season with a bang. I also can’t say that I would expect this kind of content from every episode, considering how difficult it must be to crank these games out monthly. If this is the future, then we’re all in for a lot of treats. If not, I’ll still be playing each Season that comes out, and I hope you do too. Highs and lows aside, Sam and Max have given us some solid entertainment, and Episode 6 has me itching for more. If you haven’t tried these games out yet, Bright Side of the Moon may not be the best place to start. Then again, it’s so good that maybe it is.

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17 years ago

Nice to see this series getting it right. Reading your past reviews, this whole experiment really did sound like a TV show: a pretty good beginning with some clunkers in the middle and ending the whole thing with a bang. If they ever make a videogame series that is as fun to play as BSG is to watch, count me in.

17 years ago

I have to agree, I loved this episode, and I think they’re getting the series down pat by this point. I still found episode 3 to be funnier, but not by much, and the puzzles on this one were more satisfying and made more sense to me.