Poker Night at the Inventory Review
By Catherine Black |
Poker Night at the Inventory isn't an all encompassing poker game. You can only play no limit Texas Hold 'em, and you always face the same four opponents. But playing poker is only half, hell, maybe less, of Poker Night's appeal. The real reason people should go out right now and pick up developer Telltale's latest effort is for the characters. Poker Night is hilarious, featuring cleverly written banter coming from some of nerd culture's more recognizable faces.
Poker Night is a Texas Hold 'em simulation with four choice characters from gaming culture. Players join Tycho of Penny Arcade fame, The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Homestar Runner's Strong Bad, and Max from Sam and Max at a table in a secret poker club called the Inventory. After a brief introduction to the club the player is at the table with the characters, playing Hold 'em until they either beat everyone or go out. Occasionally the other characters will have no money to put up, and will offer collateral, which can be used for aesthetic reskinning of items for various TF2 classes. Winning enough hands also unlocks new tables and poker decks for use, but doesn't change the type of poker you play. You always play with the same people and everyone always starts out with $10,000. That's it. That's the entirety of what you'll experience as far as gameplay is concerned in Poker Night. If you lose, you just start another game.
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Like real life, though, the act of betting and playing cards is only part of the reason to play Poker Night. The real drive to keep playing comes from the ridiculous banter the characters have. Watching The Heavy from TF2 trash talk Strong Bad, or having Tycho cuss you out for calling him on a big bet is ridiculously charming. Some of the jokes will be lost if you're unfamiliar with the characters and their backgrounds, but generally the writing is witty enough that I suspect even those who've never seen an episode of Strong Bad or read Penny Arcade will find themselves smiling.
Hold 'em enthusiasts will also find the core game engaging, so long as they play it on Hard. The Normal difficulty results in characters that play anywhere from predictable to utterly insane (which seems right with the crowd you're playing against), but the Hard setting feels like you're against other players. They'll bluff, respond to odds, and generally play a really smart game. Just be prepared to lose. A lot .