Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep

Posted by Erik-André Vik Mamen.
First posted on 30 August 2010. Last updated on 30 August 2010.
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Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep
Now, the conclusion to The Devil's Playhouse, ...
Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep
... starring Sam as the hero ...
Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep
... and Max as the villain, ...
Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep
... featuring weird arcade games ...
Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep
... and a final encounter with the mysterious narrator!

Sam & Max: Season Three

The season, Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse, is comprised of 5 episodes:

Episode 301: The Penal Zone

Episode 302: The Tomb of Sammun-Mak

Episode 303: They Stole Max's Brain!

Episode 304: Beyond the Alley of the Dolls

Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep

All bad things must come to an end... Apparently, this also applies to the evil possessed monster Max, who has been terrorizing New York for the past week. Sam and Max have defeated a lot of enemies this season, from a villainous space gorilla to a powerful undead Pharaoh to even an animated ventriloquist doll. At last, they manage to destroy the Devil's Toybox. Unfortunately, Max has been infected by a demon seed and is turned into a gigantic monster who has been vandalizing the city ever since.

Agent Superball, who is now the acting president (given that Max is... incapacitated), sees only a last resort to protect the city—bomb the monster with nuclear firepower. Not surprisingly, Sam pleads for Max's life and is given a last chance to restore his friend into a smaller and (somewhat) more friendly lagomorph. The only way for Sam to save Max, however, is to get inside Max's body!

In many ways, this final episode is much bigger (pun intended) than all previous episodes of the season. There are more characters to meet and plenty of new locations to explore. Further, many characters that have not been seen previously in this season have made a comeback. These characters are reintroduced in a similar way that earlier characters have been introduced in the first episode: a summarized bio with key notes of who they are.

While much of this season's storylines have already been resolved in previous episodes, a few more mysteries are still left to be revealed here. Even so, this penultimate episode is mostly self-contained. Nonetheless, because the back story has been gradually built up over the course of the season, it is absurd to start playing this final episode without first playing the previous episodes.

Compared to Save The World and Beyond Time & Space, The Devil's Playhouse has certainly taken the series to a radically different direction by introducing many new gameplay elements and even stranger story arcs. With Max now gone, Sam must solve the case on his own without any help from his partner. Moreover, the destruction of the Devil's Toybox means that Max's beloved psychic powers are no longer in dispose. Fortunately, they have been replaced with new ways of controling the environment to solve the puzzles in the game. It is very clear that the developer has strived in this season to find new innovative forms of gameplay, so to finally rid of the recycled gameplay that has been a hallmark of the earlier seasons.

While it will be foolish of me to summarize this final episode with just a single word, if I am to try anyway, then "nostalgia" is the word that comes to my mind. This is because there are a lot of references made in this game to old storylines, favorite characters, and even memorable items from previous games. Many former cast characters return in this episode, so that fans can finally learn of their fate. For example, the game reveals what happens to Sybil Pandemik and Abraham Lincoln—the more adult oriented humor is evident here when Sam himself refuses to listen to what has happened during their honeymoon. The game also includes many items from past Sam & Max games. There is even a shelf dedicated to the original game in the franchise, Sam & Max Hit the Road. Gamers who are familiar with both LucasArts' and Telltale Games' histories in this series will find some of the dialogs in this game amusing, particularly when the game makes references in reminiscing how much simpler or more complex adventure games are in the past. The game even draws references to itself when it comments that how the original game is much longer and that the voices in that game are different.

I have to admit that Telltale Games has become the king of episodic gaming. Whether you like or dislike games that are released as short episodes rather than full-length features, the fact remains that Telltale Games has managed to deliver what it promises, again and again, and on time! The advantage of being able to deliver successive episodes every 30-45 days is that the franchise will always stay fresh in the gamers' consciousness during its entire run. Clearly, this season has a well planned beginning as well as a fitting end. Each episode serves as a part of a whole new game, not just another derivative re-imagined sequel.

Now that the season has reached its conclusion, it is time to reflect on the season as a whole. The question that must be asked is: do the stronger episodes make up for the weaker episodes of the season? This is a hard question to answer, since there is not really a weak episode in this season. In fact, the whole season has been going strong and has kept a firm direction from beginning to end. Every episode has succeeded in delivering a story that is brand new as well as humor that is fresh and full of creativity. Humor has always been the glue to the series. This is apparent when Sam points out, "The REAL tragedy of Max turning into a giant monster is that this attack is EXACTLY the kind of thing he would love to watch."

Sam & Max The Devil's Playhouse Episode 305: The City That Dares Not Sleep may not make much sense by itself, but when judged in the context of previous episodes, it is a great ending to a great season. For fans of Sam & Max, the game will undoubtedly draw out a lot of emotions of nostalgia, sadness, laughter, and (most importantly) pure joy. Although it may be a long while until you meet the intrepid heroes again in their next adventure, it is comforting to know that the legacy of the freelance police will keep your heart warm for a long time.

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