Sam & Max Season 3 Episode 4 review
This penultimate episode offers a fantastic opening and ending to Sam & Max Season 3, linked by an oddly unfulfilling middle. The action starts with psychopathic toy-hunting clones of Sam rampaging through the city, and the series’ main players holed up and defending themselves. As for the ending, it's one of Telltale’s best set-pieces so far.
Between those points, there’s something missing. This episode isn’t bad, but it’s patchy, and feels rushed. Aside from the ending location, the new settings – a warehouse and a mysterious cloning plant – are visually dull and unsatisfying to explore. The script is workmanlike, with few memorable gags or lines, but lots of very, very long conversations with the usual cast. The puzzles don’t impress either. It’s not the first time Telltale have had to bend over backwards to find reasons for Sam and Max to not simply gun their way through trouble, but it’s much more noticeable when you’ve got the Stinky clan effortlessly holding their own against the exact same foes that send our supposedly psychotic heroes running for their lives.
More disappointingly, nothing interesting is done with the psychic powers. You need a cake, a guy draws a picture of it for no real reason, you use the turn-into-a-drawing power. You need to distract some goons, you use the throw-voice power. And then you do it again, and again. Only at the end do you see a new spin on these abilities in the form of a shapeshifting battle, which is fun but short. On the plus side, the episode does wrap up plenty of the series' plot points, and sets up the final episode in suitably surreal style.
A workmanlike episode that earns its place in the series with a strong start and finish.