Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse – Episode 4

The series begins to lose steam.

The detective duo of Sam and Max return for a fourth time on the Playstation 3 in Beyond the Alley of the Dolls. You can feel the tension rising as this season wraps up, as the developers are closing off plot points. However, I feel as the season has already reached its climax, and I hope that Telltale pulls out all the stops in the finale. The fourth episode, however, does keep things mildly interesting and brings back every gameplay element into one action-packed episode.

The story of this particular episode concludes a big chunk of the storyline quite well, with the game picking up with an army of Sam clones chasing General Skunkape and the duo to Stinky’s Diner in the vain of an old zombie movie. From there, you need to investigate who made the clones, and why they are sending them on a rampage across the city. The story this time around comes with a couple interesting and unexpected plot twists and keeps you guessing until the end. However, like I said earlier the story has lost a bit of steam since the last episode.

It is a decent enough plot, I am just finding that it is becoming confusing and convoluted. It leaves it open for a good finale, I just hope it wraps up in a grandiose fashion. They also finally reveal the character Dr. Norrington, who has been a very mysterious figure so far this season, and he is definitely one of my favorite characters that I have seen. Overall, as I have said, the story is good and is still making season three a strong one.

The gameplay of episode four remains largely unchanged and it finally brings all of the psychic toys from previous episodes into one, and even adds the final two psychic toys, The Destroyer and Mind Reading. The Destroyer is a toy robot that is able to get rid of all the demon tentacles that have been blocking your path over the course of the season. The mind reading will let you obviously read people minds, and this lets you progress if you get stuck easily. You are now tasked with using all of the psychic powers in many different ways, and things can get to be very complicated, but still fun at the same time.

They also bring back some of the interrogation scenes from the last episode, which I really enjoyed. They are doing a decent job of trying to keep things fresh while at the same time using old systems that have been brought about before in conjunction with each other. I like all the gameplay elements separately, but sometimes when they try to combine them it can get pretty awkward. It doesn’t ruin the game, but it can be frustrating to figure out what gameplay element you need to move on. Overall though, the gameplay stands up the rest of the season.

The graphics and presentation of this episode are around the same as the others, as the environments are ones that you have seen before, just changed slightly to incorporate the atmosphere of the episode. There are new ones that pop up in this episode, such as the place where the finale takes place that I really like, and I hope that we don’t continue to see recycled environments in the final chapter. The dialogue is as funny as ever and there is even a romance that is blooming that adds to the humorous dialogue. Overall, the presentation is typical Telltale, which means that it stands very strong on its own.

As an overall episode, Beyond the Alley of the Dolls is good, but it’s starting to slow the pace of the season, which is not something you want to do right before the finale. I have faith that Telltale will finish strong, and I am not saying this episode is bad by any means. The gameplay is as good as ever, the story keeps itself interesting and they are wrapping this season up nicely, I just was hoping for a few more fireworks going into the finale. We will see in another month, but this is definitely one of the best seasons of Sam and Max I have seen, and episode four continues to show that.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Written by
Jeff is a full-time student and has a disorder where he constantly trades in all his games to buy new ones, and then buys the older ones back. We are looking into getting him his own padded room.

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