Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

Sam and Max: The Devil’s Playhouse Episode 3

Posted by Tambo On June - 23 - 2010

They Stole Max’s Brain!


Spoiler alert: If you haven’t played Episode 2 and don’t want to know how it ends, stop reading right now.


Through a fog of lies and raison d’être, I’ll find your brain little buddy.

Sam and Max the Freelance Police are back for another episode of this zany, intergalactic drama – well Sam is anyway. Picking up the story immediately after Episode 2, Sam returns from a bathroom break only to discover that someone had opened up Max’s head like a cookie jar and has stolen the hyperkinetic rabbity things brain (yes, the title did rather give it away)! What else can super sleuth Sam do but it track it down though it ain’t gonna be easy.


Starting in the ally where Max’s lifeless body is, Sam’s first duty is to grill suspects in order to glean any information on who could have done such a horrendous thing to his furry partner. This is great fun as you get to try out a variety of interrogation techniques where selecting the right approach at the right point in the conversation is the key to unlocking crucial information. Timing is everything. Interrupt them by calling them a liar or try coercing them to go into further detail. If this fails try putting a gun in their face or my personal favourite ‘noir mode’ where Sam goes into a depressing jazz fuelled monologue where joy is snuffed out, dragging us all into a sea of blackness…


This section of the game really highlights the excellent tongue in cheek script and fans will be pleased that Mike Stemmle – who worked on the 1993 Sam and Max Hit the Road title – is back on board for this episode. The writing is sharp, witty and very funny whilst the vocal performances are fantastic. It’s not long before you find out that all leads as to the whereabouts of Max’s lobotomizer are taking you to the city’s Mostly Natural History Museum where the game play shifts to the point and click style of the first two episodes.


Dumping Max’s slowly decomposing body in the lobby, Sam continues his investigation and once again we are treated to some amusing observations from the canine cop – I’d recommend heading over the ‘mysterious object of unknown origin’ display for a range of comical suggestions. The graphics on the whole are great and though the detail and expressions of the characters are very well done whilst the camera work enhances the film noir atmosphere, the night shadows of the museum tended to make everything look a bit grainy and I found I had a few problems navigating Sam around. On the PC you have two options, mouse or keyboard. The mouse seems to be less precise and in some scenes the all-important ‘hand’ wasn’t visible resulting in lots of wasted time and repeated conversations, as I couldn’t select the right option. The keyboard option doesn’t allow Sam’s movements to flow as well as the mouse but you can get around pretty well using a combination of both.


Glitches aside, this game is terrific. Though it’s relatively short in length, the pace is steady yet never becomes dull. The puzzle aspects (what do I do now?) totally work within the context but for those who get stuck, there are ways of getting hints by listening closely to conversations. Talking to space gorillas, dirty rats and strange little European tourists is quirky but fans of Steve Purcell’s creations will love how the story is developing whilst keeping its tone and humour. It’s wacky but without ever feeling over the top or inaccessible. Newcomers to the series will find enough to keep them entertained and should find the story engaging and funny though I would recommend checking out episodes one and two before playing this as there are some surprise returns from earlier characters. Though Sam and Max have been around from 1987, this series feels fresh and appealing – can’t wait to see how it all ends!




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