Sam and Max Season Three, Episode One: The Penal Zone — Review

Our beloved cross-species, crime-fighting duo is back for a third season of episodic games from Telltale Games. This new bizarre adventure is now accessible on your Mac, PC, PS3, and iPad.

If you’re not up to speed on Sam & Max, you can check out their television show, their first adventure game, the collection of their comics, and the last two seasons from Telltale.

New Gameplay Aspects

This season marks the change in the series from point-and-click to direct control gameplay. While there has been some push-back from the adventure gaming faithful, this new control scheme allows for more cinematic camera angles and new ways of interacting with the game. You can control Sam with either the traditional WASD method or by clicking and dragging your mouse around to simulate a joystick.

Also new in this season is the ability of the player to take control of Max, and use his recently acquired psychic abilities. When you switch from Sam to Max, you inhabit the twisted mind of our favorite lagomorph. In a first person perspective, you choose from the available psychic powers, and then apply them to your surroundings.

The Penal Zone

This episode starts off with the introduction of a narrator — Twilight Zone style. He brings us to our heroes, but they are trapped in a jail cell on a space ship. After the narrator walks us through the basics, we finish out the intro sequence. It is then revealed that Max has acquired a magical toy that makes him clairvoyant, and the preceding jailbreak was an image from the future.

We’re introduced formally to General Skun-kapé (Skunkape for short) as he smashes his spaceship right by the intersection of Straight & Narrow. He then makes it clear that all he wants to do is trade his advanced technology for a magical toy that can see into the future. Skeptical, Sam & Max keep mum on the subject of their possession of the toy, and investigate Skunkape’s motives.

Hijinks ensue, and we get to interact with some of the characters from previous seasons. Interestingly, we don’t see Sybil or Bosco — two staple characters from the beginning of the first season.

This episode is extremely promising, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season. The second episode is currently out on some platforms, so look for a review of that in the coming days.

What do you think about the changes in this season of Sam and Max? Like the new graphics? Hate the new controls? Let us know in the comments, or you can hit me up on Twitter.

Grant is a writer from Delaware. In his spare time, Grant maintains a personal blog, hosts The Weekly Roar, hosts Quadcast, and writes for video games.