The hyperkinetic rabbity thing, Max and his pal Sam make up the long running freelance police duo that started out with completely strange adventures in 1993’s Sam & Max Hit the Road, and have been getting weirder ever since.
I haven’t kept up with all their transcendental adventures over the years, but finally had a chance to see what the lagomorph (Max) and his gum-shoe (without shoes) partner have been up to with the latest episode from Telltale Games.
"...a very fun snippet of classic point-and-click adventury goodness..."
They Stole Max’s Brain! is the third episode of the third series, entitled The Devils Playhouse from Telltale, and without getting too deep into story-line spoilers, picks up directly from the end of The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, with Max sans brain.
Sam is understandably quite upset at having to drag around the brainless body of his buddy and sets about finding the little fella’s grey matter, or at the very least, a suitable replacement.
The first part of the game has Sam scouring the city, checking in on old foes in a hunt for some rabbit-like neural activity. Soon Sam arrives at the Museum of Mostly Natural History and locates both Sam’s brain as well as a variety of characters to be dealt with in typical S&M fashion – oh!, that didn’t come out exactly as I meant it to.
It could have been the review code, but for some reason, graphically, this episode delivered a rather grainy look to the darkly lit scenes. This could also be due to a very recent upgrade to the test machine running Windows 7 but an older video card. Thankfully it wasn’t in anyway game destroying, just distracting. The more well-lit locales of the game were fine.
There were a handful of glitches that did spoil the fun from time to time, including one desktop crash near the end of the six or so hours of the episode, and an interesting conversation with some invisible Molemen at one point, again, nothing too disastrous or mouse destroying.
Telltale have opted to change not only the purchase scheme for this series of Sam & Max (no longer episodic, the entire series is currently the only way to buy the game) but also the control mechanism. Playing this game on a PC, without gamepad, it would have been nice to have a point and click mechanism for movement within scenes rather than the - sometimes frustrating – WASD method now par for the course in this style of game.
The above comments, added to some very minor audio glitches are mere minor niggles in what, is, after all a very fun snippet of classic point-and-click adventury goodness.
The variable and subtle hint system is something Telltale has now perfected, the dialogue and jokes are top notch and for the most part the puzzles are well thought out and well telegraphed to players.
Storyline, characters and puzzles are the most important parts of this genre, and this episode does little to disappoint. There are plenty of S&M universe flash-backs, a good smattering of clickable objects purely used as gags or story colour, then there are Max’s psychic powers.
Series three’s storylines have centred on the ‘toys of power’. With Max’s newly enhanced brain he can use these toys as unique psychic powers, which in turn has enabled Telltale to inject new puzzle features into the code.
It is too bad the developer did not take this further, using just the three powers available and limited use of the traditional inventory system, Telltale has managed to satisfy the adventure gamer and injected some ‘new’, but when all the dust of the latest episode has hit the floor, there is a feeling it could have been so much more. I guess this is part of the metering out of content in an episodic form.