This ‘Sam & Max – The Devil’s Playhouse: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak’ review most certainly ‘Cut’s the Cucumber Lengthwise’

Throughout their adventures we’ve seen Sam & Max go to some pretty exotic locations. They’ve driven their car to the moon, gone to Easter Island, and even the North Pole. Curiously enough though, their newest romp manages to lead them to the far off reaches of Egypt all without Sam & Max leaving the comfort of their buildings basement! Those Freelance Police sure do know how to innovate!

The Penal Zone concluded with Sam & Max discovering skeletons in their buildings basement that looked an awful lot like them. The Tomb of Sammun-Mak picks up immediately after this with Sam’s discovery of some film reels near the bones. This is how the story of the episode plays out. Certain instances rely on hopping between reels in order to solve a puzzle. The film’s stars are Sam & Max’s ancestors: Sameth and Maximus  (old timey versions of the Freelance Police complete with period appropriate attire). When a traveling entertainer by the name of  Monsieur Papierwaite comes to old New York, Sameth and Maximus are among the first to check out what he has to offer.

Whoever can solve his “Challenge of the Sphunx” will win two tickets to exotic Egypt. Upon figuring out that you don’t yet have enough information to solve the puzzle, Sameth & Maximus venture outside and begin chatting it up with some elves (who make their return from Season 2 along with some other memorable favorites). At this point I began hopping between the film reels. The Elves had asked for a good toy idea, which in return would get Maximus a Psychic Toy (of which there are 3 brand new ones to play with). (It seems Psychic Powers run in Max’s family). Skipping to a later reel, I was able to learn what my great toy idea was which I could then use to acquire the toy from the previous reel. It’s similar to Max’s Future-Vision toy from The Penal Zone but with more prolonged ventures to the future. Occasionally the view will pull back to Sam & Max watching the film, and you’re given their commentary on the current situation which is cool. It’s an interesting way of experiencing a story, and I can’t wait to see what other cool narrative tricks Telltale has planned for future episodes.

The control setup haven’t changed from The Penal Zone, but I found myself using the mouse controls much more this episode. I also noticed even more subtle animations from the characters. Max exhibited this a bit in the last episode with his small eyebrow movements, but I caught it more times this episode on more characters. Everything about Paiperwaite impressed me, and I hope we see more of him. The Devil’s Playhouse overall just really continues to impress me with how good it looks. With their new lighting tricks, it’s like interacting with a current CGI film. And to address the technical issues I mentioned in the previous episode’s review, I upgraded my processor to a Core 2 Duo in the time between episodes and encountered no problems this time. Looking back, my old processor was under the provided specs so this will likely not be an issue for many other people.

The Tomb of  Sammun-Mak is a great stand-alone chapter in the grand scheme of things. While it does further the mainline story, the majority of it is told through the flashback film reels which helps this episode stand on its own. The characters are all equally excellent, and there’s even an unexpected origin story of a character from Season 2 (that’s mere initial appearance made me laugh for entirely too long). I really love the direction The Devil’s Playhouse has been going and I can’t wait to see what everyone’s favorite Freelance Police are up to next month!

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 2: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak will be available on PSN, PC, Mac, and the Apple iPad at some point today. You can get a copy of your own right here: Telltale Store.

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