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Kimberley Ellis
04 Dec, 2010

Poker Night at the Inventory Review

PC Review | I wanna hold'em like they do in Texas, please.
If you know your way around the Internet, you’d know that finding a Texas Hold ’Em poker video game is not a difficult endeavour; and if you’re a knowledgeable gamer you’d even know that many of them can be obtained without the need to fork out any of your hard earned cash (bless your heart freeware!). But what if the basic poker gameplay merely served as a shell for something more, would you be prepared to shell out for the game then? Telltale Games is hoping that you will, with its latest title Poker Night at the Inventory - and for the measly $5 asking price, we think you should too.

Upon loading up the title, you’ll be introduced to a door in the middle of a dark alley. Once you step inside, you’ll find yourself in the hidden space known as The Inventory which serves as (for lack of a better term) a gaming speakeasy. After a quick introduction to The Inventory and a few cameos later, you'll find yourself sitting at the table where it's time to go up against these colourful characters for some no-limits poker action.

You gotta know when to hold and when to fold.

You gotta know when to hold and when to fold.
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At its core, Poker Night at the Inventory plays similarly to that of your typical real-life poker night. There’s poker, there’s cash and most importantly there is a lot of conversation; and it’s within these conversations that the strength of the title lies. You see in Poker Night at the Inventory the poker table serves as a vessel for delivering you with a lot of laughs, particularly those who feel at home with nerd culture as this table seats some of the most popular characters of Internet and video game fame. Alongside yourself, (the faceless player) you will share the table with: Heavy Weapons Guy aka ‘The Heavy’ (from Valve’s Team Fortress 2), Max (of Sam & Max fame), Tycho Brahe (from the popular Penny Arcade web comic) and Strong Bad (of the hilarious Homestar Runner web cartoons).

The interactions between the characters are the real reason to keep playing Poker Night, both because the banter is hilariously funny and the underlying poker game is akin to a no-frills freeware title that you could pick up anywhere on the net. Each game always starts off with the players carrying a $10,000 bankroll to the table, and while you can customise the appearance of the table and the card decks with various themes, there are sadly no real changes to the rule set. This feels like a missed opportunity for the title, with unlockables of this sort, gamers would have found more of a reason to tip time into the title. But as we've already repeatedly stated, its the comedy of the title that that makes Poker Night a success. Those that are familiar with the characters from their various mediums will instantly recognise the sayings, mannerisms and general calamity that each character brings to the talbe. Depending on the settings that you have chosen, the characters can be occasional conversationalists or chatty Kathys; but whatever the setting they remain true to themselves. Strong Bad is as blustering and boastful as ever, Tycho is the sarcastic nerd with a potty mouth that we know and love, Max is the king of randomness, while the Heavy alternates between being proud of his achievements and wanting to kill you because you have a better hand than he does. Combined, these different personalities mesh well and if you are a fan of them in some form, they will be sure to draw a few chuckles from you.

Come for the poker, stay for the laughs..

Come for the poker, stay for the laughs..
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Of course, over time even the funny dialogue will start to lose its appeal (particularly as the phrases start repeating) but thankfully you're given the option to limit or tone down the chatter as you please through the menu. To keep gamers playing for a little longer Poker Night gives you the opportunity to win some items which can then be paraded around in Team Fortress 2. All of these items prove to be merely cosmetic in nature (in that they have no effect on the outcome of the game) but as a collectable they look pretty cool to parade around the TF2 servers.

Many will take a gander at Poker Night at the Inventory, and some of them will think that the title is a massive waste of five dollars. It'd be easy to feel disappointed or even downright cheated by how short a time it takes to listen to all the characters' jokes or to unlock all of the alternate tables, card decks or Team Fortress 2 collectables on offer. But we believe that Poker Night at the Inventory continues Telltale’s tradition of offering games that deliver a great story. The gameplay might not be stellar, but if you take the game at face value for what it is and what it packs into a five dollar package, you'll find that what Telltale has put together is a polished, entertaining way to kill a few spare minutes. It might not be the longest game you play at the moment, but we can guarantee you that this little slice of entertainment will sure as hell be the funniest title you've played in a while... and you can bet on that.
The Score
Poker Night at the Inventory continues Telltale’s tradition of offering games that deliver a great story. You'll come for the cheap poker mechanic and stay for the humourous banter.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Content

Poker Night at the Inventory trailer
04 Nov, 2010 Dude, did Tycho just talk?
Telltale's Poker Night at the Inventory announced
03 Sep, 2010 You gotta know when to hold 'em.
6 Comments
3 years ago
I was gifted this game on Steam and played a little and it was my first introduction to poker. There was no tutorial or anything in the game so I looked online for information on how to play, still found it really confusing icon_confused.gif Then I read that poker is a game based on calculation, and essentially, mathematics... A huge problem for me because I have bad Dyscalculia. Ugh. Totally sucks because I love the idea of playing a card game while these characters banter (I love Max!) I will play a little more and see if I can figure it all out.

Also love the pokerface reference! icon_lol.gif

Edit: hah, it actually mentions on the wiki page as a symptom "Difficulty with games such as poker with more flexible rules for scoring." booo.
3 years ago
I find the character's personalities shine through in their playing styles.

Max will often bet or go all in on nothing, because he's insane. Tycho is more reserved, and tends to fold a lot. Strong Bad talks tough, but often doesn't have much to show for it. Most of the time, I'm in showdowns with the Heavy, who's an aggressive player. Maybe I'm just reading too much into the AI, however?
3 years ago
No, you're right. The AI is programmed with personalities. Tycho will usually be the first to fold under pressure, so if he's betting heavy he's usually got a good hand.
3 years ago
I'd just like to get it to work. I've tried this game on a PC (where it ran ludicrously slowly) and a mac (where it didn't run at all).

Seriously, it should not be that hard to make a poker game run well, but this game seems riddled with issues.
3 years ago
Adam wrote
I find the character's personalities shine through in their playing styles.

Max will often bet or go all in on nothing, because he's insane. Tycho is more reserved, and tends to fold a lot. Strong Bad talks tough, but often doesn't have much to show for it. Most of the time, I'm in showdowns with the Heavy, who's an aggressive player. Maybe I'm just reading too much into the AI, however?
Huh, I never even thought of it like that, but now that you mention it makes perfect sense. In my dealings with the game Max was always pushing all in and most of the time the final player was the Heavy - alas he was the only one that wouldn't fall for my bluff. icon_lol_old.gif
3 years ago
Kimberley Ellis wrote
alas he was the only one that wouldn't fall for my bluff.
Or he is too stupid to think betting hard could mean you have a good hand icon_smile.gif
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