Sam & Max Season 3: The Devil’s Playhouse Episode 3: They Stole Max’s Brain! PS3 Review

July 4, 2010 by Chris Wigham  
Filed under Features, Playstation 3, Reviews

Publisher – Telltale Games – Developer – Telltale Games – Genre – Adventure – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 12+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

The second episode of this third season of Sam & Max finished on a rather sombre note, in which Sam returned to his little buddy Max and found that he had had his brain removed, leaving a flapping scalp and a hollow head. Obviously, Sam, with a dark mood, sets out to find out who the culprit is and to reclaim Max’s brain.

The theme of They Stole Max’s Brain! appears to be that of noir as Sam interrogates the suspects and tries to empty as much information as possible out of their heads. Sam growls at these characters and even knocks them around a bit in order to learn the truth, although it’s disappointing that the noir theme is soon dropped for something entirely different instead.

During interrogations, choosing noir dialogue options will amusingly have Sam speaking like a manic depressive. Combine the latter with sad jazz music and the tone of the early moments of the game is quite a departure for a Sam & Max episode.

It’s interesting to note that the early noir scenes are made up of some rather unique puzzle solving in regards to picking apart a characters’ story by going back and forth between them all to try and piece together what actually happened when Max’s head was sliced open to gain possession of his “special” brain. Having been impressed by this brief section, I’d certainly like to see a proper hard boiled detective game from Telltale Games in the future.

Sadly, following these early moments of promise, They Stole Max’s Brain! begins to diminish in quality. While it does have its moments, the usually stellar and very silly humour just isn’t as funny as the previous two episodes. I don’t know, but for me it just felt a bit flat – like a stand up act comprised of both funny and limp jokes.

Elsewhere, there’s some great puzzles once again making use of Max’s psychic abilities, although haven’t we already seen some of these solutions before? Season 3 is in danger of becoming overly predictable for the final two episodes if Telltale isn’t careful, but I’m sure that they’ll get the season back on track with the next episode.

Don’t get me wrong, They Stole Max’s Brain! is still a very enjoyable episode, but, with rather hit and miss humour and a number of recycled puzzles, it just feels rather weak next to the previous two. I’d like to see some new psychic powers to play around with in episode 4 and, more importantly, I’m hoping it’ll be a return to form.

7/10

The Devil’s Playhouse is now available on the PlayStation Store as a five episode bundle (priced at the very appealing sum of £19.99), with a new episode released each month.

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