After 2 seasons and 1 episode of Devils Playhouse (The Penal Zone) Sam and Max are back with us - again. Or are they?
In The Tomb Of Sammun-Mak most of your time you will spent controlling Sam and Max's ancestors - Sameth and Maximus. Their skeletal bodies Sam and Max founded in the end of The Penal Zone just below their office.
Using some kind of weird-looking projector Sam and Max can play four separate film reels that correspond to a different part in their great grandparent's story - the retrieval of Devil's Toybox from the moleman guarded Egyptian tomb. You'll need to flick back and forth between the reels to figure out how to progress in the narrative.
Although you're still effectively following a set path, the order in which you choose to go is up to you thus removing a sense of linearity. It might sound complicated, but it isn't. I had some minor concerns that the plot may become illogical and hard to follow, but lead director and writer Andy Hartzell has cleverly managed to retain consistency and sense of the story.
The locations in Tomb Of Sammun-Mak are really shiny against the places we've visited in the past. The game's namesake tomb is probably one of the best locations the dog and rabbit pair has visited in the Telltale games. It's a huge, expansive place full of exploration to do and there are different levels and siderooms. It's encompassing too, so there's no load screens as it cuts off from one area to another. For example, you can see where jou just were between the pillars.
You'll also take a ride on the Disorient Express, a highly inhabited train ride, complete with camera bobbling and scenery gushing past.
The most shocking location was Straight & Narrow, which is full of Victorian charm and barely recognistable due to the snowy makeover. These aren't even everywhere you'll visit, so it's safe to say you'll be satisfied here.
Sadly the game can't be said for all the "new" characters. The only face you didn't seen before is Monsieur Papierwaite, the strange-looking chap responsabile for sending Sameth and Maximus after The Devil's Toybox. Although he plays such a key role in the playing out events, it's a tad disappointing that you don't see much of him.
The rest of the cast are made up of redressed characters or models (elves and moles) from previous episodes. I had no quarrels with the choices, but it would have been much more preferableto be interacting with people we've never seen before.
The way you solve puzzles is a bit different this time round as there's less of a reliance on the inventory. It's still there, of course, nut there's an introduction of some more inventive techniques thanks to the reel switching, such as discovering clues in on part of the story to solve something else.
The molepeople also have an ability to cast their own unique hex onto Sameth and Maximus, changing the way a situation is approached. For example, one curse makes the pair suffer from constant bad luck and it's up to you to figure out how to work this for your own good.
Three new psychic powers make an appearance too, being the aforementioned flipping between reels. There's also a ventriloquist doll that allows Maximus to transfer his voice into others. It works perfectly well and cleverly used, but there were times when it was underused and would provideed a better puzzle solution to the one given.
The humor is still well and truly on high form in Tomb Of SAmmun-Mak. There are laughs-a-plenty, both through the writing and the clever touches scattered throughout. And, of course, althrough it feels defunct mentioning it as it's never any different, the audio is completely brilliant.
When it comes down to it, the other problems in Tomb Of Sammun-Mak are really small. Occasionally you'll get some repeated dialogue when you revisit a character, the elves voice may not be distinguishable enough or you may run into a couple of bugs, but there's else to object to. When you've got an episode that plays as well as this, the little niggles that pop up can very easily be pushed aside.
If this standard of inovation is only just the beginning, the cliffhanger at the end of the episode will have you drooling over your calendar in anticipation for the future.
You can read walkthrough for Sam & Max: Devil's Playhouse Episode 1 and 2 (Penal Zone and Tomb Of Sammun-Mak) here.