Sam & Max Season 3: The Devil’s Playhouse Episode 2: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak PS3 Review
Publisher: Telltale Games Developer: Telltale Games Genre: Adventure Players: 1
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
The first episode of The Devil’s Playhouse was a wonderful piece of episodic gaming. It was a fantastic start to the third season of the silly, American pop-culture sniping Sam & Max games, and I enjoyed it so much that the second episode couldn’t come soon enough. Luckily, Telltale’s traditional monthly release set-up meant that it wasn’t a too lengthy period to wait. I’m certainly not the only one who wanted to find out exactly why the duo appeared to be staring at their own skeletons at the conclusion of the first episode.
The skeletons actually turn out to be those of Sameth and Maximus, ancestors of Sam & Max from the early 20th century. Those worried about the lack of the titular characters in this episode need not, as Sameth and Maximus share the exact same characteristics as their later relations. Sameth may have a moustache and Maximus may wear clothes, although they are basically the same characters that many of us have grown fond of. In fact, the vast majority of characters will be familiar to fans, which will be disappointing to those looking for some new personalities to grow fond of. But because the story and dialogue are so well written, I rarely cared or even thought about this during its comical run.
The way the story is laid out is interesting. You flip between film reels (using the Astral Projection psychic power) as Sam & Max’s ancestors attempt to find a magical toy box – switching between different chapters in order to do so. You’ll soon learn that leaping backwards and forwards between each chapter is necessary to perhaps move ahead in another chapter, and, in spite of what you may think, in no way does this make the story difficult to follow.
The humour is once again of the silly variety, meaning it’s so silly that it’s funny. I really enjoy this type of humour, and when playing a Sam & Max game it’s certainly one of the main driving points. It’s always a lot of fun to see what ridiculous situation comes next, and puzzle solutions are generally interesting and inventive – funny too.
Yes, being an adventure game at heart, The Tomb of Sammun-Mak is comprised of quite a number of puzzles throughout its short duration, and these puzzles are generally of the logical kind, which will please those who hate to get stuck for any regular lengthy periods (the hint system is still there, which may save you a trip to GameFAQS during the moments when solutions are seemingly out of your grasp). The first episode of Season 3 introduced Max’s psychic powers, and, as expected, episode 2 introduces its own powers to play around with. The Can of Nuts allows Sameth and Maximus to hide inside the said can, flipping between film reels is also done through these powers, and finally the Ventriloquist Dummy is my favourite: it gives Maximus the freedom to essentially make other characters say what he wants them to say. It’s obviously used for a number of puzzles, although it’s also enjoyable to just play around with it, using it on each and every character just in order to hear what Maximus has to say, the reactions of the characters (Sameth isn’t amused) and the manner in which he attempts to mimic their voices.
Episode 2 of the Devil’s Playhouse is yet another triumph for Telltale Games. It may not offer the sort of challenge that Sam & Max Hit the Road presented upon its release in 1993, although it still has its inventive puzzles and its delightful sense of humour. There’s much to like here and little to complain about, and I’m very eager to play episode 3.
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.