Poker Night at the Inventory Review

In a time where crossovers in games have become less and less interesting and uninspired, Poker Night at the Inventory is a great example of what can be done when given the opportunity to use characters from different franchises in a videogame.

Poker is already one of the most wide recognised board games in the world, and a popular one for gambling. It’s a game that most people know how to play making it a perfect choice for crossovers. The same goes for LEGO Dimensions or Sonic All-Star Racing; people know what to expect when they see a LEGO game or when playing a kart racer. You can pick up the game and get started in a matter of seconds with crossover games like these, making them good entry points for new fans of different IPs too.

The Inventory itself is a fictional underground club built under videogame storage warehouse, with different personalities coming to the secret club to hang out and play games with other characters from a wide variety of games.

Occupying the seats that the player faces off against in the first Poker Night is the Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Max from the Sam and Max games, Tycho from Penny Arcade and Strong Bad from the Homestar Runner series respectively.

One of the things that stands out the most about Poker Night is that all the characters feel like they belong in the game. Their designs and models don’t feel out of place or weird. Tycho is a great example of this; this is the character’s first appearance in a game and most likely his first 3D model, and the design isn’t off-putting and fits the art style of the club perfectly. Even in the case of Max and the Heavy, who are already established game characters in their own franchises, their unique models and design never hinders the look of their surroundings. You could think that this is their first game by how well they’ve blended into the visual style of Poker Night without distracting from the gameplay.

What makes this game so fun is how all four of these personalities interact not only with the player but with each other as well. The settings menu has the option to decide how much the characters talk. Personally, I have it on the highest setting as there’s so many different interactions that can happen between the four that it doesn’t get old or stale. In fact, wanting to see what other dialogue there is makes me want to play the game more and more. These four were undoubtedly a great selection of people to include as the player’s poker opponents.

Tycho interacts with Heavy.

An extension of the character’s personalities are the items that they can occasionally bet in place of money. Every player starts with 10,000 dollars, but there’s a chance that one of the four opponents will use an item of theirs to buy in as a substitute for money. If the player can knock out the character who put their item on the line, they’ll unlock the item for use in Team Fortress 2.

The Heavy’s item is the Iron Curtain, a reskin for his regular minigun, whilst Tycho’s item is the Enthusiast’s Timepiece – a reskin of the Spy’s inviswatch. Strong Bad’s unlockable item, Dangeresque, Too?, are a pair of white shutter shades for the Demoman and Max’s unlockable items (he has two) are his signature gun known as the Lugermorph, which a reskin of the default pistol, and his police badge called License to Maim.

These unlockables are great additions because it gives you something to play and aim for besides just “winning”. You have a goal and an aim: Eliminate a specific player and you’ll get their items to use in another game.

However, there are even more things that can be unlocked in Poker Night, too. If you’re playing the game through Steam before it was delisted in 2019, there are a total of twenty achievements to unlock – including achievements for knocking out the other four characters and obtaining their buy-in items. Some of these achievements range from easy, such as winning twelve or more hands whereas some may take a bit of grinding to get to, most notably winning a game with a straight flush.

In addition to those, winning games can either unlock new decks or new poker tables. There are fourteen different tables to unlock and a few of them have their own unique effects that change character models; one of which is a low-polygon version of Strong Bad. The decks that can be unlocked all correlate to the characters, or a general scheme based on The Inventory. One of the first decks that you unlock is a Team Fortress 2 inspired deck which sees the colour black replaced with the colour of the BLU team and the suit icons replaced with characters from the game.

Max, Strong Bad, the Heavy and Tycho compete with the player in Poker Night at the Inventory.

Poker Night at the Inventory is a creative take on the unique opportunities that crossover titles in the gaming space can achieve. Nowadays, crossovers are limited to fighting games or skins in multiplayer games, but Poker Night took the idea of putting characters from different intellectual properties one step further and gave us a one-of-a-kind concept that beautifully blends personality, fun gameplay and cool unlockables as you go through each tournament.

For another review on crossover games, check out our review on MultiVersus.

8 – Amazing

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