Review: Sam and Max Season 3 Special

June 22, 2010, Author: Ray Willmott

So, we draw closer to the conclusion of ‘The Devils Playhouse’ and reach the Fourth Episode, ‘Beyond the Alley of the Dolls’ in rollercoaster fashion. With the brief hiccup that was ‘They Stole Max’s Brain’, I continue on with the story and find out whether or not it really has run its course.

Even though we’re not there yet, it’s fair to say that ‘Beyond the Alley of the Dolls’ could pass as a Season conclusion. If you’ve been playing this from the beginning, this Episode is going to give you answers to the questions you’ve been having, and, as one can expect from Sam and Max, not always the answers you were expecting. That being said, while a lot of things are tied up here, the Episode’s conclusion is still going to have you yearning for more and will make ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ arguably the most difficult episode to wait for of the whole Series.

You could probably guess that from the way you’re hounded by Dogglegangers at the end of Episode 3, the action kicks off right from the get-go with Sam, Max (who is now reunited with his brain), Stinky, Grandpa Stinky and Skunk-Ape shacked up in Stinky’s diner, with clamouring hordes of Sam clones trying to get inside. With a limited arsenal of weapons at their disposal, the group try to fend off the invasion, Max happy that he finally gets to use his gun and Stinky happy that she finally gets some time to use her phone uninterrupted. You wouldn’t be foolish for comparing this opening section to the likes of Shaun of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead, as the toy-obsessed Sampocalypse have a very one track mind and our protagonists have no choice but to fight for their lives. In fact, the first thing I thought when I saw Grandpa Stinky with a shotgun in his hand was … ‘That’s so Bill’.

Pills here!

Despite battling to survive, the thought occurs to both Sam and Max that someone clearly has an obsession with ‘The Devil’s Toybox’ and is going to incredible lengths to get it. You could go as far as to say this is the real ‘Whodunnit’ episode of ‘The Devil’s Playhouse’, and to determine who that is will not be an easy feat with everyone you’ve met in this Season to date a potential candidate.

It’s not just the majority of the cast that have involvement here; we’re talking about every trick you’ve learned this Season with the whole toy wheel open to you and every investigative technique known to the Freelance Police; it’s all in ‘Beyond The Alley of the Dolls’. To be honest, I managed to fly through this Episode without any trouble, whereas I have found some difficulties in previous episodes. That could be attributed to how well Telltale Games have educated us as to the usage of these Toys or the dynamics of the Season, or perhaps it could be that the puzzles simply weren’t that taxing this time around. Either way, most things I did on first try.

Frankly, storyline wise, this is the best episode of the Season. It’s a thrill ride from beginning to end; it utilises everything you’ve come to love about ‘The Devil’s Playhouse’ and puts it all together to provide one of the best written Episodes Sam and Max have ever been involved in. The humour is as sharp as it’s ever been; the story is coherent from beginning to end and ties everything up very neatly.

Gimme back my pyjamas!

This is still not as innovative and creative as the initial episodes and the opening portion of Episode 3, but that doesn’t matter. As long as you’re not expecting that, you’re going to love this episode. This is more of a celebration of the season, and is focused on the storyline that has been brewing. All Toys are going to be open to you, you’re going to need to know how to use them and understand what they do in order to get through.

It’s difficult not to give this Episode anything but the inevitable verdict, and that I sincerely don’t mind. This genuinely deserves it and really does show how important the storyline of this episode has been to TTG. I’m very excited for the conclusion of this season and I’m so relieved and happy to feel this way after feeling a bit underwhelmed by ‘They Stole Max’s Brain’. While this season never got derailed, this episode has definitely got the momentum rolling into the finale. Another fantastic job by TTG and a great addition to an already great season.

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