Penal Zone

They are back! Even after 2 seasons (combining 11 episodes) I didn’t have enough, so I jumped right back in 3. My enthusiasm in these situations is usually high enough to successfully bypass any rational thought, so I didn’t consider any possible drawbacks. Season 3 is really more a follow up to the latest Telltale games rather than the last Sam & Max game itself. Tales of Monkey Island definitely led the way. What I mean by that, is that S&M 3 has WASD keyboard control instead of the AWESOME point+click from 1+2. If it ain’t broke, think long if you need to change it anyway! I don’t intend to go into it at an epic length, how much I dislike keyboard control for something, that basically is still nothing but a classic adventure game (which can be great as it was)… Moving a character around with WASD doesn’t add anything to gameplay, it doesn’t make things easier to control and that’s already everything I could think of that could be a reason for choosing this kind of interface! A simple mouse click is always faster and easier, it also only requires the use of a single hand, whilst the WASD keeps both hands busy and breaks game control, when the player tries to drink something (or whatever). The cursor itself was changed into a huge hand, which is IMHO again no improvement over the accustomed default. Furthermore, keyboard control in such adventures always ends up in running into every object on the screen. Did anyone ever play for a longer period of time, without bumping against something? Bumping against all sides is even necessary, to determine if the screen scrolls further, potentially revealing more of the current location…

After I was able to move on from this first shock, the next details started to sift in. Noticing the film grain effect, the dialog wheel for conversations, or even the aquarium in Stinky’s Diner, I felt much better, because at least they seemed to have the same taste in games I do. Really.

Although you’ll still don’t have to use your brain to solve any of the puzzles, it’s a little more complex than the previous seasons, mostly because of Max’ new abilities. Oh and Max… I’ll admit I play these games because of Max. Who doesn’t wanna see a psychotic rabbit wreak havoc? So, having a game rely to no small part on one character, means at least this MUST be perfect. Considering this, what have they done with his face?!?

This, this… THING that happens above his eyes, makes me believe there’s an alien parasite moving under his skin! It freaks me out every time it happens!

I’ll admit the effect succeeds sometimes,

to give him more range to express SOMETHING, but usually, this

is the way we (=me) want to see him. Please…

The rest of the game feels somewhat bigger & better (the episode has 436 MB, a lot of the old ones were under 100 – so this couldn’t be any more obvious right away), because there are more locations now and although it’s the familiar engine again, it feels like they almost maxed out their options.

As someone who had played all parts of the previous seasons, I felt the locations of 3×01 belonged to the best kind they did so far.
Concerning the story, I can’t say anything yet, since it’s quite unclear in which direction they intend to go. Having finished 1/5 of the game doesn’t really unveil a big enough chunk.
Oh, and if you can’t shoot ANYTHING with the gun, please just remove it! It’s annoying, when fully armed Sam & Max can be pushed around by anybody, without being able to do anything about it. A psychotic bunny with lots of ammo should be able to take an unarmed opponent. At least he’d TRY! He’s CrAzY! I’m not talking about a bloodbath here (I swear!), SOME cartoon violence, as it is perfectly fitting into this setting, would do fine…
Since the Telltale customer support is so awesome to do stuff like that, I’m already looking forward to my email announcing 3×02. :)

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