During Gamescom 2020's Opening Night Live on August 27, a tease for a new VR game starring the comic adventure game duo Sam and Max debuted. While the initial announcement was light on details, we've since then learned more about Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual from IGN's Gamescom Opening Night Live post-show and an official press release.
Here's what we know about the VR game so far, including the release window, story, and whether or not the franchise's classic voice actors and creators are returning.
When is the Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual release date?
For now, we just know that Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual will be released sometime in "the first half of 2021," according to the press release revealing the game. No specific date was given, but this obviously means that it will be released sometime before July 2021.
Is there a Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual trailer?
Yes. While the trailer shown during Gamescom Opening Night Live was short and teased a larger reveal later, the full trailer for Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual was uploaded to IGN's YouTube account later that day. It's a funny trailer, and it gives us a better idea of the game's premise, gameplay, and voice cast.
Is Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual a VR game?
As we've mentioned, Sam and Max: this Time It's Virtual is indeed a VR-exclusive game, which is a first for the series. When it comes to specific VR platforms, none were mentioned. That means it will probably be available on every major VR platform: Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive, Valve Index, and PlayStation VR. We probably don't have to worry about it being exclusive to a single platform like Astro Bot: Rescue Mission or Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond.
What is Sam and Max?
Sam & Max is a classic franchise, albeit one that hasn't seen much action in recent years. It was created by Steve Purcell in 1987 as a comic book. It stars the titular dog (Sam) and bunny (Max) private investigator duo known as they solve crimes around New York City. It was a consistently funny and lighthearted series that reached the height of its popularity in the 1990s thanks to LucasArts games like Sam & Max: Hit the Road, more comics, and even an animated series on Fox.
The characters became less popular in the 21st century, however, but we still got several great adventure titles from Telltale Games like Sam & Max Save the World. But we haven't seen Sam or Max in a major video game role since 2010's Poker Night at the Inventory, which crossed over with games like Team Fortress 2.
Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual is the pair's grand return to gaming, and it seems to be in good hands.
Is the series' creator working on Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual?
As LucasArts and Telltale Games have both been shut down since working on Sam and Max, the game is now in the hands of a new developer: HappyGiant. This studio has mainly worked on AR and VR games like Untamed ARena, but Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual is definitely the studio's highest-profile game yet.
We don't have to worry about it losing the charm of the originals though, as creator Steve Purcell is consulting on this new game.
"Decades ahead of the curve, we spoofed what Sam & Max VR might be like. Now, finally we can really step into their world," Purcell said in a press release. "HappyGiant is doing an amazing job capturing the flavor of Sam & Max’s bizarre universe. After drawing these characters for so long, it’s mind-blowing to finally walk through the door and actually interact with Sam & Max in VR."
Bay Area Sound, Concept Artist Peter Chan, and writer and designer Mike Stemmle are all also returning to the series for this project.
Who voices Sam and Max in This Time It's Virtual?
Developers aren't the only Sam & Max veterans returning for This Time It's Virtual. HappyGiant has confirmed that David Nowlin will still voice Sam and Dave Boat is once again voicing Max. These are the actors that recorded lines for the characters them in Telltale's games, so the voices in the reveal should sound familiar to fans of the franchise.
What is Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual about?
In Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual, players take the role of a new recruit for the "Freelance Police," the official name for their business. "As a new cadet, the player will be put through a series of graded courses set up by the duo inside an abandoned theme park, which probably harbors a dark and dangerous secret," a press release reads. "As players progress, they'll put their new skills to the test in Sam & Max's neighborhood, as well as other locales that defy description."
This playing as an observer premise is fairly cliche for VR games, with Star Wars: Vader Immortal and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality taking similar approaches. It allows players to meet classic characters instead of just playing as them.
What is Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual gameplay like?
The gameplay of Sam and Max: This Time It's Virtual also seems like it will be more similar to a game like Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality than L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files. As a new recruit, players will have to complete various training challenges around Sam and Max's neighborhood and a local theme park before actually helping them take down some bad guys.
In the reveal trailer, we see the player messing around in Sam and Max's office, shooting bugs with a gun, and throwing Max at a wall. A task list that can be seen in one of the game's screenshots also includes quests like getting Sam lunch and coffee or punching an inflatable clown that's in the Freelance Police's office.
The main draw of this game will be meeting Sam and Max in VR — that's something we are definitely looking forward to.
Sam & Max: This Time It's Virtual will be released for VR platforms in 2021.