They Stole Max’s Brain! A Sam & Max – The Devil’s Playhouse Review!

I always try to keep my reviews of Telltale’s episodic titles as spoiler free as I can. I don’t go into too much detail, and even try not to spoil aspects of previous episodes. But there is no easy way for me to tell you this, other than to just come out and say it.

They Stole Max’s Brain!

This episode picks up immediately where ‘The Tomb of Sammun-Mak’ left off, with Sam discovering that someone stole Max’s brain. This news sends Sam into a night sulking, interrogation filled, noir inspired fit of rage. Throughout previous seasons Sam & Max have always been together the whole time. It’s interesting to see how Sam behaves on his own. The noir tone really helped add gravity and importance to the situation. The lack of his hat,  jacket, and addition of a 5-o’clock shadow also help set the scene pretty well.

The first part of the episode introduces a brand new interrogation gameplay mechanic, which reminded me of the cross examination sections in the Ace Attorney games. The characters go through their account of what happened, and you get to interrupt with certain queries. If you follow the right conversation path it will lead to the next clue. I really liked the new characters in these scenes too. It was almost hard to be rude to the foreign tourist character (voiced by Majus). There are also some really cool puzzles later on that use the psychic powers in cool ways. The “Future Vision” toy will be missed in future Telltale projects.

There was a weird shift in tone about half way through which caught me off guard. The Noir stuff effectively stops at the middle point of the episode. It almost feels like 2 different episodes in tone. It’s not a bad thing as both sections are well put together, but it’s something that stands out to me. The story as a whole is strong though. The cliffhanger at the end is probably one of the most natural and effective ones I’ve seen yet. The Devil’s Playhouse as a whole has succeeded in making a season wide story arc split into self contained episodes in ways that Tales of Monkey Island did not. The change in character models, and visual style definitely assist with this but the story telling is what really stands out. It has succeeded in bringing more emotional weight into the cartoony duo. I can’t wait to see what the next episode holds!

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 3: They Stole Max’s Brain will be available on PSN, PC, Mac, and the Apple iPad soon. You can get a copy of your own right here: Telltale Store.

The Season Review’s so far:

Episode 1 – The Penal Zone

Episode 2 – The Tomb of Sammun-Mak


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