After Episodes 1 and 2, Telltale Games’ episodic Sam And Max Season 3: The Devils Playhouse continues, with Episode 3: They Stole Max’s Brain. Can you guess what the main premise behind this one is? Yes, after an ill timed bathroom break, Sam returns to find ‘they’ stole Max’s brain! He therefore sets out to find how who’s done this to his buddy and kick arse. Sam’s anger sees our favourite six foot talking dog lose his usual calm demeanour and go all film noir detective on us.
The games first act sees Sam questioning suspects about the whereabouts of Max’s brain. This is done by attempting to make your suspect drop their guard with a well-timed option from a dialogue tree consisting of threaten, hurry up, you’re lying and noir. Noir is the best of the bunch with Sam spouting a dark, questioning Film Noir style piece of dialogue. Naturally, this being Sam and Max, all of this dialogue is witty. The only problem with it is if you need to interrogate suspects more than once, hearing the same dialogue gets tedious.
Sam’s interrogations take him to the Museum of Mostly Natural History, which is exhibiting Treasures of the Forgotten Pharaoh. The Pharaoh just happens to be that of Sammun-Mak, whose tomb featured in Episode 2: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak. Who’d have thought it! There are no more interrogations from this point, with They Stole Max’s Brain following the traditional adventure game pattern from here on in – exploration, (genuinely amusing) conversations with other characters and deciphering how to use items in order to solve puzzles.
Like many, many other adventure games, the solutions to puzzles can seem farfetched, but this is Sam and Max so insanity is to be expected. However, help is at hand thanks to a hints system that will aid novice adventure gamers, or journalists that have review deadlines to meet. *cough* Moving on, Max – who mainly features this time around as a brain in a jar – has his familiar collection of toy’s. Rhinoplasty can still be used to change Max into items to key items while Future Vision can provide extra clues with solving puzzles. Like The Doctor and his Sonic Screwdriver, Max’s toys appear to aid in any situation – this may disappoint veteran adventurers.
It is possible to play They Stole Max’s Brain without having played The Penal Zone and The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, but this isn’t recommended. After all, this is part of a story stretched across a series so there are concepts, characters and even jokes that will confuse a new player, even with the help of notes about the cast in Sam’s suspect list. That said it’s still entirely possible to enjoy this episode in its own right thanks to the wicked humour. Six foot cockroach and security guard Sal really steals the show.
They Stole Max’s Brain is a highly entertaining – and nice looking - adventure game that any Sam and Max fans will love thanks to the duo’s trademark zany humour. The three to four hour episode can still very much be played as a standalone game, even if you’re new to the series, but playing the previous episodes of the series beforehand is highly recommended. However, don’t expect many questions to be answered by Episode 3 of a five part series. If anything, even more questions are raised and especially by the cliff hanger ending. Will they be answered in Episode 4: Beyond The Alley Of The Dolls?
Not bloody likely!
(Originally written for Game-Debate)