Sam is a six-foot dog in a baggy suit sporting a trombone-sized .44 hand-cannon. Max is three feet of pure unleashed id with a saw blade grin and the impulsive nature of the average piranha. Together they patrol the sticky streets of a fantastical New York City, righting wrongs, pummeling perps, and ridding the urban landscape of the shifty legions of “self-propelled gutter trash” that litter their streets. Sam & Max is Telltale’s longest running episodic game series to date.
The new season Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is the biggest, strangest and most epic to date. As the saga begins, an otherworldy power for controlling matter and space calls to the strongest and strangest who might wield it – intergalactic warlords and eldritch gods, under-dwellers and scholars of the arcane.
Gaming’s greatest dog and rabbit sleuths Sam & Max seek the power’s ancient secrets, as Max gains shape shifting, teleportation, mind reading and future vision abilities for battling these foes. The saga plays out in a surreal 5 month-long symphony of mayhem that gets deeper and more twisted with each episode.
Sam and Max got their start in comics in 1987, courtesy of creator Steve Purcell. They have appeared in a number of formats over the years: videogames, an award-winning animated series, an Eisner-winning web comic, and the Eisner-nominated comic anthology Surfin’ the Highway.
My husband is huge fan of the Sam and Max games so he willing volunteered to review this game on my behalf! Here are his thoughts…
I love Sam and Max. I played the original game. I watched the TV cartoon until some villainous scum-sucking practicing malfeasance canceled it. I danced with elation and ecstatic joy when I heard a new game was coming. I cried bitter tears of sorrow when I got canceled. I proposed to marry TellTale Games when the picked up the broken pieces and started releasing Sam and Max games in seasons. (the restraining order is still in effect.) When my wife (whose blog I’m invading) bought me seasons one and two of the Sam and Max games, I kissed her for so long she passed out and I had to look up CPR on Google.
And now there is a third season. Needless to say I was happy to see it. When I got to play it for free as a reviewer, I made TellTale a quilt, but apparently that is also not allowed with the restraining order, so it got returned in the mail. Anyways, instead of reading about all my problems, you want to know about the game, don’t you?
One of the first things I noticed when I started The Penal Zone (Episode one of The Devil’s Playhouse aka Sam and Max Season 3) was the staples of all Sam and Max games was present: Zany humor, threats of gratuitous and comical violence, and my two favorite heroes, Sam and Max (well, that last one is pretty obvious, but I wanted to be thorough.)
The things I noticed that were different were all good things. The graphics seemed to be a bit nicer (on the same ancient computer I’ve been using for years) than the previous two seasons. Also the user interface is nicely upgraded and is very nice.*
*I actually said the user interface was ‘double rainbow’ but Erin edited that out
One of the new UI features are the ability to walk around freely with the keyboard. I found walking around in seasons 1 and 2 a bit cumbersome and limiting, but all that is gone now. You can still move by clicking, and now you can hold the mouse button down. All ways work nicely. The inventory system is upgraded as well. Now when you look at it, you get the options to pick it up (to combine with something else,) examine it, or use it. This allows for more options and easier control of the items, also better than the previous two seasons.
The conversation system is much better now, too. Instead of simply a vertical list of things to talk about, you get a circular menu with the options. Like many games of this type, you can follow the same topic several times. What would normally happen would be you’d keep clicking that topic, then when you’d heard all of them, you’d click a final time, to hear a repeat part of the conversation. Now when you’ve heard the final part, it’s grayed out, so you know you’ve heard it all. You can still listen again if you want, but you wont waste time hearing stuff twice on accident.
Brand new to this season is Max Mode, where you get to do all kinds of insane things, like turn Max into a plant, or teleport using memorized phone numbers (Max keeps track, so you don’t have too.) This adds a fun element to the game, and more chance for mayhem.
There is also a narrator who appears in scenes that remind me of the G Man in the Half-Life games. I’m not sure if this in intentional, but there were a couple other events that seemed to be homages to other games, probably favorites of the developers. I could be wrong, but even so, they made me smile
This game is great for anyone who likes solving brain bending puzzles, witty dialogue that will make you laugh so hard you soil your shoes, and for anyone who loves my favorite type of game: The adventure game. I thought it was a dying breed, but TellTale (among others) have made it live again.
If you’ve never played a Sam and Max game, I say start from the beginning (way in the beginning if you can find the original.) You’ll get the whole storyline that way. Even though season 3 has several improvement over season’s 1 and 2, it’s no reason to skip them. However, if for some reason you like to read the middles of books and start a movie halfway through, you will probably enjoy the game anyways. There’s plenty of reference to past adventures though, so be ready to wish you’d started from the beginning. However, you can get all three seasons for half the price, and you get a whole heck of a lot of game for the money. If the amount of game you got were a TV dinner and you ate the whole thing, you could burp enough gas to fill a hole in the ozone layers (if you have any clue what I’m talking about, you get 10 points.)
Buy it: You can learn more about this game at http://www.telltalegames.com/samandmax/thedevilsplayhouse and the game can be purchased straight from the Tell Tale Games site for either MAC, PC, and a number of other gaming platforms like the iPad, PS3, and more for just 34.95 for all three episodes!
Disclaimer: I received Sam and Max The Devil’s Playhouse game to review as a member of the Game Review Network. This review is 100% my opinion and has not been edited or reviewed by anyone. I was not compensated in any other way for this product review.