|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Telltale Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Telltale Games/GameTap||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
A fair share of bizarre plot twists are revealed in Chariots of the Dogs, and it draws some unexpectedly delightful connections between different characters and occurrences from past episodes. While some episodes stand-alone in their ability to let players drop-in with little prior knowledge of the series, this is one where it's pretty important to have played the past games first in order to keep up with the wild action and plot developments. Among the many strange run-ins, you'll find out who originally programmed Bluster Blaster, get a chance to meet Bosco's mom (it turns out he's a test-tube baby after all), visit with the original Stinky, and hangout with the doppelganger Sam and Max from the past, present, and future. More importantly, the veil will be pulled back to finally reveal the identity and nature of "T-H-E-M." Without spoiling the surprise in store for players, and it's a big one, let's just say the identity of "T-H-E-M" could not be more ridiculous, funny, or better imagined. Kudos to the writers at Telltale; you've outdone yourselves.
The puzzles in Chariots of the Dogs aren't quite as tough as the past few episodes in the season, but they're slightly more entertaining and interesting this time around. This is largely due to the Back To The Future-style time travel mechanic injecting some interesting changes in how players will have to approach gameplay. Moving back and forth between the past, present, and future, it's possible to make some minor (and major) adjustments in the past that show up in the present and future. This comes into play frequently in attempting to solve the game's puzzles. You'll also find yourself warping back and forth to undo some of the temporal anomalies Sam and Max unwittingly cause as a result. While past episodes included a handful of simple mini-games, there's really no need for them in Chariots of the Dogs since it's such a solid episode. Treasuring hunting for new characters scans to use in the elevator sort of feels like a mini-game on its own.
As we previously mentioned, controls and visuals are the about same as they have been since the series began. The point-and-click interface is uncomplicated and easy to use. There has really been no need to change them aside from adding a run feature and a few minor tweaks which where done at the start of the second season. As always, the jazzy soundtrack is quite good and the voice-acting continues to impress. The cheesy 80s action metal tune on the jukebox in Stinky's is hilarious.
Chariots of the Dogs continues on in the same clever, funny, and endearing way as past cases, and it's one of the better entries in the series. If the unveiling of "T-H-E-M" isn't crazy enough for players, the episode wraps up with another exciting cliffhanger ending - big shocker. It's a to-be-continued conclusion that will leave you anxiously wondering exactly how the next episode will be pulled off. This one might be hard to top, but we can undoubtedly expect the quality zaniness will continue.
CCC Staff Contributor