Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Poker Night at the Inventory

Review: Poker Night at the Inventory

2:00 PM on 12.06.2010 // Brian Szabelski

As a wise man once said, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em." Okay, that was actually Kenny Rogers’ "The Gambler," but it works in regards to Telltale Games’ newest title, Poker Night at the Inventory. It’s the second time Telltale’s made a poker title (the other being Telltale Texas Hold ‘Em back in 2005) and generally, poker games don’t usually get the gaming world too excited.

However, Poker Night got a whole lot of press for the fact that it brought four well-known and well-loved characters to the game: Max from the Sam and Max series; the Heavy from Team Fortress 2; Strong Bad of Homestar Runner fame; and Tycho from Penny Arcade, the same comic in which Kenny Rogers appears as Gabe’s guardian of sorts. (See? I told you it worked.) Add in the fact that the game was offering players a chance to unlock five new items for Team Fortress 2 (six if you pre-ordered and got the Poker Visor hat), and it was no surprise that the game would be quite a popular download on Steam.

But does Poker Night live up to the hype and will you be playing it long after you buy it? Your answer might depend on how much of a good thing you can tolerate.

Poker Night at the Inventory (PC [reviewed], Mac)
Developer: Telltale Games
Release date: November 22, 2010
MSRP: $4.99


If you're looking for some long story about how Sam, Tycho, the Heavy and Strong Bad all ended up playing poker ... well, there's not much of one. It's just the four of them hanging out and playing at The Inventory, an underground club that supposedly has its roots in Prohibiton, but offers nothing more than a setting. And that's fine, because really, this game doesn't have a need for a story.

Visually, Poker Night's a good looking game. The Heavy, Strong Bad and Max all use models from Valve and Telltale's games, respectively, and their animations are very smooth. Tycho's model, on the other hand, is brand-new, and oddly enough, he's the one who looks a little out of place from time to time. There's also a few graphical glitches if you move the game along too fast: in one instance, I couldn't see my cards for an entire hand because they never actually loaded. I'd folded too quickly and skipped to the end of the hand before the game could make the change, it seems.

Another cool little feature is that in the background, the characters will appear as you knock them out of the game. They don't do a whole lot, but it's kind of cool to see Strong Bad playing the arcade machine, or the Heavy at the bar after a bitter defeat at the table.



Where Poker Night excels, though, is in the chatter at the table between the Heavy, Tycho, Strong Bad and Max. The scritping and the actual voice acting itself is spot-on, a testament to the abilities of whoever's responsible at Telltale for writing this game's dialogue. Tycho's voice is a bit jarring at first, but you get used to it the more you play, until it seems natural. What's also great is that each character's quirks are also included in their dialogue: for example, there are Heavy's "funny" stories about summer camp that are actually quite morbid, and Tycho's obsession/lust over giraffes makes it into the game, the latter of which made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. In short, they've nailed the spirit of all four characters perfectly. My only complaint is that they engage each other, but never really bring the player into their conversations. You kind of feel more like an invisible observer than a player at the table with these guys for the bulk of the experience.

Outside of their clever quips, the actual computer players seem... well, I'm not sure how to describe them. Maybe a bit erratic? At times, they seem to take unnecessarily big risks or make strange plays, like going almost all in and folding. At other times, the AI seems to know exactly what the flop, turn and river cards are going to be ahead of time, and is able to make strong bets based on that knowledge. I know part of poker is that the game can turn on its head with the draw of the right card and make a winning hand a losing one. But in Poker Night, it feels like those sudden moments are, at times, manufactured by the game more than they would occur naturally. The AI issues seem to get a little better when it's down to just two players, as I had greater success in knocking out my opponent then.

Poker Night's gameplay pretty much boils down to good ol' fashioned Texas Hold 'Em, the kind you see on TV. It helps a bit if you know what beats what ahead of playing this game, as it makes it easier to gamble, but you can definitely pick up how to play over time. Navigating the in-game interface to make calls, raises and folds is relatively simple. Plus, in addition to the new items, winning games unlocks new tables and decks to play with, giving you the opportunity to customize the game's look a little bit.



On the downside, there's not a whole lot else you can change. The AI has two difficulty options -- normal and hard -- and you can adjust the level of conversation that goes on as well as if it’s censored or not. But you can’t change anything about how much the buy-in is, presumably to keep people from somehow gaming the system to get the Team Fortress 2 items easily, what blinds start at, etc. Maybe adding in a few other options that unlocked once you had all of the items (and they’re tied to achievements, so that’s no reason this could not have been done) would have helped keep some replay value.

All this boils down to Poker Night's biggest problem: it gets repetitive very quickly. Once you've heard Tycho and Heavy's tenth Class discussion for the twentieth time, it loses a lot of its initial charm. On top of that, with no real options to modify the game's stakes, you're always playing the same $10,000 buy-in game once you have the new Team Fortress 2 items. Thankfully, Telltale's included the option to right click through any conversation as a means of speeding up the game's pace and perhaps saving your sanity. The only bad part, of course, is right-clicking takes a lot of the fun out of the game because you're not getting those interactions anymore. So it's kind of a catch-22: sit and listen to Strong Bad and Max's conversation for the fifth time, or skip past it and lose some of the atmosphere. Your call.



Now that I've played Poker Night for a bit and have all my shiny new items, I find myself at a crossroads. On one hand, the game has energy provided from the fun conversations taking place at the table. And you definitely get more than $5 worth out of that alone. What kills Telltale's latest game is that, really, there's not enough diversity to keep people coming back ... at least not for more than a game or two when you're bored and have nothing else to do.

Enjoy the banter between the characters and the new items for you Team Fortress 2 players out there, but just remember one thing: it's a $5 single-player Texas Hold 'Em poker game. Don't expect anything much more than that.

Photo Gallery: (4 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys



THE VERDICT

6

Poker Night at the Inventory - Reviewed by Brian Szabelski
Amicable - A presentable but unmemorable time. Focusing on the bright spots helps, and I appreciate the effort, but I won't be playing this repeatedly.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Brian Szabelski,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Poker Night at the Inventory


  May 30

This week's Humble Weekly Bundle is all about Telltale

Hours of adventure games available for a few dollars


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Emily Wants To Play has come to mobile (and I wish it would go away again)

Six Reasons Why YOU Should Buy Soul Sacrifice Delta For $8!

Mega Man X Drinking Game: The Super Smashed Bros

Video Gaming Bits -- Rampage: Total Destruction

Roses are black, PS4 lights are blue; This is a game, and it has valkyries too?

Cblogs of 02/10/16 and WONDER-isms

Modern face of survival horror

Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Love, Lost, Live, Lost (2014) - Yesterday was me and my girlfriend's 16th year anniversary together, so I decided to share this song. It deals with being in love, losing that person, moving on, and learning to love again. It's 9 minutes long, too :P
gajknight avatargajknight
I have done my part. Thank you Niero. Question: Does blocking someone also remove their front-page articles too?
iam16bit avatariam16bit
I've been on this site for sometime and for some reason I've never done a quickpost until now.
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of course
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumption
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^T
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -