To say that the newest Sam and Max episodes interest me like the original did would be a damn lie, so I won’t say that. Unlike the stellar (and old) Grim Fandango or Curse of Monkey Island, Sam and Max: The Devil’s Playhouse just feels underwhelming. These past few Lucasarts releases have taught me to temper my anticipation with doubt that the game will be much good. That same thought has comforted me after playing the atrocious new Monkey Island games, and now it comforts me after playing these new Sam and Max games.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on this game. After all, it’s technically sound, it looks pretty, the controls are good, the puzzles are somewhat challenging. But what kind of game critic would I be if I didn’t come down on this disappointment of a game?
Games like this rely on their humor and all of the jokes in this game fall flat. It seems more like an old episode of Duckman, except all of the jokes went through a focus group to make them as irrelevant and inoffensive as possible. The effect is that you will find yourself struggling to get past ten minutes of playing the game before you switch to something else more worth your time. This game might have been funny back when I was an eleven-year-old boy who subsisted primarily on soda, Oreos, and Nickelodian. Now, not so much.
The art direction is pretty worthwhile, however. The game looks very clean and bright, like a cartoon come to life. However, it doesn’t distract from how boring the game is. The development team should hire better writers.
Lucasarts isn’t a bad development company, and I admire them for trying to revive the point-and-click genre. With all the comedians out there today, they shouldn’t have any problem writing a funny game. All of their older games were hilarious, so I don’t see what the problem is nowadays. If they put forth a little more effort in creating this, it would attract an audience who would buy it. As it stands though, they’re merely running good franchises through the dirt, like a Godfather III or a Sonic Adventure would.
Review copy provided by publisher.