Poker Night at The Inventory Reader Review
This is something different, Californian based video game developer Telltale Games known for such titles as Sam & Max, Tales of Monkey Island and Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures have produced the chic casual poker game "Poker Night at the Inventory".
The faces of Poker Night at the Inventory include TTGs, Sam from Sam & Max, Strong bad from Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Valve's Heavy from the popular Team Fortress 2 and Tycho from Penny Arcade. Each have recorded extensive voice dialogue and play their parts with fantastic character To the extent that you could definitely make the decision of whether you would live with any of them or not after a few games with them.
Mostly not as the characters are all larger than life personalities who typically take second seat in their respective franchises, however this adds to the atmosphere of the game. They aren't heavyweights like Gordon Freeman or Super Mario who we know the entire backgrounds of, instead we're given tons of comedy moments without any unrealistic expectations. Each character has their own series of tells which is quite comical and definitely puts a little rush and thought into the game than you normally would if you were staring at a bunch of numbers. The Inventory itself, the environment you're set in has had quite some time invested into it and it feels like a shame that it hasn't been incorporated more thoroughly as it really is quite a marvelous little video game locale. (I think I might commision such a place for myself one day).
Now as a poker game, it's pretty good. However we should be careful to understand that this is a game and not a poker simulation. There are unfortunately flaws that make this distinction far more apparent than it should. For instance at the end of each hand, you don't get the option whether to fold your cards or not. During real life poker this is to hide the way you played a hand to others who may or may notl keep track of your playing style.
In Poker Night, this is all made redundant as it feels as though the characters are playing hard coded to their own hands and don't play in relation to how previous hands have played out beyond how their own chip stacks weigh up. This is quite disappointing, as every poker enthusiast knows, a lot can be gleaned on another persons mood and playing habits.
This does not remove the enjoyment that can be gained from Poker Night, it is a fantastic bit of fun which is enhanced by the fantastic performance by the characters you play against and the thrill you get from seeing the card you need pop up on the river is still there.
The voice acting isn't the only nig plus on offer, those that own Team Fortress 2 can gain various unlocks by playing Poker Night. Occasionally, the characters will cash in with unique items which are up for grabs. In Team Fortress 2 these items are pretty much reskins for standard weapons and won't offer you any advantage over others beyond bragging rights. But let's face it as competitive gamers, we love to show off.
Within Poker Night itself, after a number of wins, you unlock a series of card decks and table covers. Getting them all becomes terribly addictive and I personally do not find it a chore however I can imagine others gaining that sensation.
My personal experience with Poker Night has been mostly good, a few bugs which violate the rules of Texas Hold em'have been ironed out which is good to see. The graphics are more than adequate however on the highest settings, could make a few older machines tremble but besides that, most gaming rigs out there should make short work of it which is good news because it truly does look just great, no graphical corners have been cut or at least none that I have noticed.
Now here's a big warning for a lot of you looking for a poker client to play with. There is no multiplayer in this game whatsoever. It's definitely unfortunate as such an aspect would have been terrifyingly awesome, however I can understand why this game has been limited to singleplayer. To have voiceless avatars rock up at the table would kill the unique vibe and atmosphere of the game and to have a broad spectrum of avatar choices and voice commands would have been too monumental of a task for what the game is.
I still however find extreme value in Poker Night when it comes to training my own poker styles. The game tracks session statistics quite well and this allows you to think through how various strategies perform against the different characters. Lessons from this trialing can then be taken into real life poker games. I also find myself trying not to give away any tells while I'm playing when I see cards come down so that during a real life game, I can mimic the same actions (or lack thereof) or look out for any tells I give away.
After a long while of playing I did find some repetition in the dialogue and got easily bored when running my trials and could not find a way to skip dialogue till one day I accidently clicked the right button. This is another failing of Poker Night, not enough information is given to the player for instance the intervals between the raise of blinds and ways to bypass character dialogue, the fact you can mouse over your folded cards to check them etc. If I knew all of this going in, some frustration could have been avoided.
Poker Night is a great little casual game for poker enthusiasts to kick around with. It is however a game and not a poker client so no multiplayer is involved and the game itself is not strict on the rules of Texas Hold 'em.
The voice acting is superb and truly bring a great atmosphere to proceedings with some unforgettable tales and comedy moments. This part of Poker Night is it's true forte along with more than adequate graphics.
I find there's a remarkable amount of potential here. I always ponder if other characters could be added or DLCed in or other games such as Blackjack/Foosball/any number of saloon games seen in Red Dead Redemption. Let's hope that TTG adopt the Valve philosophy of regular content updates as it really could turn this simple poker game into some other monster. But maybe that's my imagination running away with itself.
The one true aspect of this game which wins me over is the value of it. At £3.49, this casual little poker game offers hours upon hours of fun and frustration (in a good way). If in your mind you're keeping track of "entertainment/hourr" then Poker Night will definitely score you a favorable ratio. If the price of this game was £10 or even higher, I would drop it's score quicker than you can fold a 2-7 off suite. However at £3.49 there are definitely a lot of games at the same price range which offer a whole lot less at the asking price (and a few which offer slightly more). If you're attracted to poker in any way, you won't regret parting ways with the price of a pint for this.