Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sam and Max: The City that Dares not Sleep

The final part of the third Sam and Max season was suitably large-scaled and dramatic (notice how I sidestepped using "epic" there?), and also more effectively emotional than I really expected. It was hard to be too broken up by the proceedings because the show must always go on with these two, but it still worked. Plus the ending, while perhaps a bit convenient, is perfectly fitting for the convoluted logic these characters operate on and also amusingly wraps up about three seasons' worth of loose ends. In the end, The Devil's Playhouse (that title was finally explained this time around) was to me the strongest release yet by Telltale, with more creative energy in each episode than some of their earlier stuff had in the whole season, and some of the time shenanigans make me wonder what could possibly be in store with their upcoming Back to the Future game. But I guess I should talk about the episode itself at this point.

Because of Max's transformation, it necessitates a slight shift in the formula from the other episodes. You don't get to mess around much with the toys of power (although they aren't completely gone), but there's still a gameplay dichotomy where you have to shift between two different characters to get things done. The puzzles were pretty good for the most part, although there were a couple situations where you were forced to do something convoluted when a simpler solution would be pretty obvious, or misleading situations where you're prevented from getting something, leading you to look for a way around it, but that thing itself is actually unimportant. The story pulls out all the stops, bringing back characters from all three seasons in interesting ways, and also telling a pretty good straight up monster movie plot. The scale is impressive, leading to it being the best looking entry in the series. They did a great job with the final part, and Telltale should really be commended for being the masters of serialized gaming.

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