Sam and Max are now into their fourth episode – Sam and Max: Abe Lincoln Must Die!. Those that have been following the series should know what to expect by now: lovable Sam and Max quipping at each other and to others about every culturally significant and current topic under the sun as they make their way through yet another variety of puzzles which are, again, mostly conversation-driven. Thankfully, the dialogue in this series has been so robust, it alone is reason enough to keep gamers coming back, and this latest episode is no different, though perhaps a bit better.
The only real complaint I’ve had regarding the previous episodes has been that the puzzles were relatively easy and that the game is fairly repetitive in some respects. This fourth episode tries to distance itself from that somewhat by beginning at the White House itself, but it is a short-lived glee, unfortunately, as this episode still requires players to drive back toward their office and interact with Bosco and Sybil. Nothing against these characters, but it is getting tiresome that they are so often integral to the puzzles, but often have little to do with the plot. Without spoiling, though, fans should enjoy their involvement this time around, and even through my general unwillingness to entertain their antics again, I felt their inclusion this time around to be a bit more respectable. Oddly, though, the office itself plays more of a role than in previous episodes.
I suppose that is understandable at this point as, though the episodes certainly work individually, the puzzles do occasionally rely on knowledge of the previous episodes (and there really isn’t much of a reason to not have played the earlier episodes anyway). This six-episode season has a common arc running through it, and though each episode is self-contained, items discovered in a previous episode often carry over to the next. The bug (literal and in the spytronics sense) is perhaps my favorite and the way it is used in this episode just adds to the hilarity.
Overall, there’s not much new to say about the series: it is classic Sam and Max. Abe Lincoln Must Die! strikes all the right chords, and tickles the funny-bone expertly. For fans, this episode will probably be your favorite. New folk that just want to try the series out might want to start here as it is the best example of this season. It does make me wish for a new venue – the distortion of the White House, and the colossal Abe Lincoln statue that Max must campaign against (yes, indeed), are novelties that Purcell and company are expert at.