Poker Night at the Inventory Review

Stop me if you’ve heard this one… A rabbit, a wrestler, a Russian merc and a slacker walk into a bar. No?

Well, Poker Night at the Inventory, the celebrity poker game from Telltale games features an interesting cast of video game characters including Max from Steve Percell’s Freelance Police, Homestar Runner’s Strong Bad, The Heavy from TF2 and Penny Arcade’s resident smart ass – Tycho Brahe as players in the most interesting game of Texas Hold’em you’re likely to find for $5.

Poker Night at the Inventory is the epitome of a casual game. It’s low on gameplay features aside from its core – a single game of Poker, but it’s remarkable less for the game and more for the atmosphere created by the cast of misfits you play it with. The player is a faceless victim in a verbal war of the worlds as the colorful characters around the table spout off insults, comment on their playing and every once in a while say something very off the wall and surprising.


Poker Night at the Inventory (PC [Reviewed])
Developer: Telltale Games
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: November 22, 2010
MSRP: $4.99

Telltale delivers a workable poker game under here. While it is mostly no frills it is definitely a competent title. The graphics are nice and the company manages to maintain the distinct visual style established in the games of thee lead characters, including a cell-shaded Tycho.

The banter between your opponents at the table is really what will keep you playing Poker Night if you’re not a card game fanatic. Strong Bad and Max often surprised me during play with some of their commentary – especially the odd or seemingly random comments made based upon either the hand they held or the way you were playing.

You start with $10,000 to bet with one character always offering up collateral in the form of unlocakble items for Team Fortress 2. The stakes of the poker game are reasonable and you can actually be completely pushed out of the game in two or three hands if you’re not careful. Luckily even if you tap out of the initial pot you can opt to listen to the other characters continue their match to listen to the unique dialog.

As you might expect the recorded dialog does repeat from time to time. Telltale was prepared for this however by allowing you to disable the color comments and just play through with some pointed dialog on. Even with the limited library of outbursts I found the game did a good job of not repeating the same random line ad nauseam.

The Heavy, Max and Strong Bad all turn in excellent performances and were in character through the game. I never felt like I wasn’t playing a real poker game with those crazy characters. Tycho however just felt awkward.

The voices of the characters are done by their original actors, including the weakest link of them all – Tycho himself. Of all the characters, the Penny Arcade voice actor felt like the least professional of the bunch. The acerbic slacker tone of his delivery felt natural, but there was just something off about the delivery. This was just not the voice I picture in my head when I read Tycho’s comments.

In the end, Poker Night at the Inventory is a great casual poker game with a cool gimmick. Telltale manages to deliver a $5 game with some staying power for fans of these oddball creations and I highly recommend if you like any of the games featuring Max, Strong Bad or The Heavy then this is a worthwhile impulse buy. Dedicated TF2 players will probably find the $5 loot upgrades a steal as well.

Pros

  • Excellent banter dialog during play
  • A fun Texas Hold’em poker game
  • Dialog option vary by game progress and hands

Cons

  • Tycho phones in his performance
  • Only one version of Poker included

The Verdict: 90/100

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