So, what can you do with $5 these days? Get a Happy Meal, or a footlong sub. Take a ride on a mass transit people-mover. Put just over a gallon of gasoline in your car.
Or, get yourself lots, and I mean lots, of entertainment.
On the surface, Poker Night at the Inventory sounds like something thought up as a cute little “what if” scenario. Simply, this is bunch of Internet favorites gathered together to play some no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em in a private, semi-secret club established as a holdout first against Prohibition, then the idea of games becoming shunned or banned. While some of us might simply sit around drinking and talking about how such a scenario might play out, Telltale Games took a break from their succession of point-and-click adventure entries that breathed new life into some neglected LucasArts franchises and made the scenario happen. It’s now available on Steam, and the results are simple, addictive and hilarious.
They saved you a seat.
The characters are, as I said, favorites of the Internet. First is Max, of the Sam & Max Freelance Police. Of the two, Max has always been the unhinged one. His tendency is to solve his problems with violence. The rabbit from Monty Python & the Holy Grail has nothing on the lagomorph, since the furry little slayer of knights never ran off at the mouth about how much he enjoys the taste of kneecaps. He’s here thanks to Telltale Games bringing him and his big canine partner back from the grave LucasArts dug for them in the 90s.
Next is StrongBad, of Homestar Runner. He first appeared courtesy of TellTale in his Cool Game for Attractive People. Apparently the only thing he got out of the game’s designers was “a recommendation for a cool hang-out.” He’s the shortest player at the table, but do not judge him by his size. Or the fact that he can hold his cards quite well despite the boxing gloves.
Taking a break from crushing tiny baby-men with bare hands, the Heavy of Team RED came to the Inventory after the Engineer showed him where it was. Apparently, destroying opponents in games of poker is just as satisfying as mowing them down with Sasha. Not only does he bring his distinctive voice and imposing presence, the Heavy also shares quite a bit about himself. You may just find out what his favorite movies are.
Last but certainly not least, Tycho of Penny Arcade may seem to be the most reasonable one at the table, but don’t be fooled. He brings not only his trusty 20-sided die but also portents of doom and his rapier-sharp rapid-fire wit. He rounds out your opponents nicely.
The dialog and interactions in this game are fantastic. They alone are worth the price of admission. And, really, they’re what you’re paying for. As a representation of Texas Hold ‘Em goes, it’s not going to set the world on fire. Max might, though, if I don’t wrap this review up quickly.
In contrast to a lot of Steam titles available, this is a relaxing and fun little enterprise. One-liners whip across the table as your opponents taunt one another and call you out to match their bets. Even when you’re not playing, say for example after Strong Bad went all in on what seemed to be a weak flop only to pull a flush out of his mask, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. There’s hours of entertainment here, and for $5 on Steam, you can’t ask for more and might expect much less. Poker Night at the Inventory is packed to the brim with more than you’d think, from fantastic dialog to Team Fortress 2 unlockables, and is worth every penny.