Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse Episode 3: They Stole Max's Brain Impressions

The Sam & Max franchise gets a film-noir twist in the next episode of The Devil's Playhouse.


Contrary to the reports we've been hearing for the last decade, the classic adventure genre isn't dying. In fact, adventure games had a particularly strong showing at E3 2010, thanks in part to the continued efforts of Telltale Games. We stopped by the developer's booth to get a glimpse of the next installment in the current season of Sam & Max.

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Who's Making It: The witty minds at Telltale Games, of course. This is the team behind the other Sam & Max episodes, as well as Tales of Monkey Island, Wallace & Gromit, and upcoming games based on the Jurassic Park and Back to the Future licenses.

What It Looks Like and What It's About: They Stole Max's Brain looks to film noir as its inspiration, from both a visual and a gameplay perspective. The fan-favorite narrator returns to guide us through the charming story, which starts with Sam returning from a bathroom break to discover that Max's head has been sawed open and his brain is nowhere to be found. The visuals and dialogue have a fantastic crime-fiction attitude but are twisted with tongue-in-cheek wit. As he investigates this terrible crime, Sam may launch into melancholy monologues--a habit that inspired a character in the demo we saw to say, "Are you trying to get me depressed?" During another conversation, a rat proclaimed that he "saw something brain-related." Series fans will love the hysterical dialogue and charming characterizations.

What You Do: No surprise: The newest Sam & Max episode is a story-driven adventure game, though the film-noir inspiration expands beyond just the visuals and dialogue. The first half of the game focuses on interrogation. As Sam seeks clues to Max's missing medulla, he'll have several ways of handling the various suspects, all of whom have secrets to hide. As Max, you can threaten suspects, ask for information, or even mutter about various melodramatic musings. We saw these options in action when Sam approached a moleman, who eventually revealed that the space gorilla was involved and had apparently been released from the penal zone.

The episode goes in a different direction about halfway through, but unfortunately, Telltale Games did not respond to any of our intense interrogation techniques by dropping any tantalizing tidbits about that shift in gameplay.

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What They Say: They Stole Max's Brain will be available to download in a matter of days, on June 22, 2010. Two more episodes will round out the current season.

What We Say: At one point during the demo, a character alluded to an itchy sensation in his boxers. If you like adventure games or Sam & Max or just appreciate games that put a smile on your face, They Stole Max's Brain is likely to elicit a similar reaction in your own underpants.

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