Poker Night at the Inventory Review: Cheaper and Funnier Than Vegas

We’ve had a lot of debates this year about the value of your gaming dollar. I can’t say for sure that the game behind Poker Night at the Inventory is technically worth charging for when other games include it within their larger game for free. I can say if you have no interest in poker whatsoever, but a slight appreciation for any/all of the humor in Sam & Max, Homestar Runner, Team Fortress 2, or Penny Arcade that Poker Night at the Inventory will be its $5 price tag before you lose your first hand.

The Poker Night Crew

These guys hang out all of the time

Telltale Games is best known for recently bringing back adventure games in tasty bite-sized episodes. Reviving series like Sam & Max, and Monkey Island and adding to the worlds of Homestar Runner and Back to the Future is a feat any gamer can appreciate. Why they decided to suddenly make a poker game starring the most random combination of video game characters possible, is beyond anyone’s understanding. It has been said that licensing for Max, Strong Bad, The Heavy, and Tycho took more lawyers than designers required to make the game. Baffling as it all may be, they are here to play poker.

That’s one way to learn poker

Ironically, I had never even tried to seriously play poker until my recent run through of Red Dead Redemption. It only seemed fitting that the rest of my beginning poker lessons be taught to me by video game characters. The poker game itself won’t surprise anyone, it’s classic and competent Texas Hold ‘Em. Don’t expect a tutorial either, aside from a guide to the values of the possible poker hands, if you’ll like me you’ll be learning by losing.

Poker Night with The Heavy

Not his most intimidating weapon

Luckily, the real draw at the Inventory are the characters themselves. There’s plenty of idle banter and one-liners to keep you going through several hands. You can adjust how chatty everyone is through the settings in the main menu. Each character has a few different skits when they bust out, and engage in one-on-one conversations throughout the match. The writing is just as witty as any other Telltale game and successfully blends the crazy origins of this strange cast. Chances are you already know whether or not you enjoy these characters, and fans will not be disappointed.

$5 of comedy plus a free card game

It’s hard to be critical of such a harmless and inexpensive game. The poker gets the job done, and there’s plenty of dialog to spare before it gets repetitive. I’ve spent twice as much on movie tickets with a lot less laughs to show for it. You may look at Poker Night at the Inventory and ask, “Why?” When the real question is, “Why not?”


Giant Bomb (images)