Tue 7 Sep 2010
They’ve done film noir; they’ve done zombies… this month Telltale has set their sights on the Monster Movie! The Devil’s Playhouse concludes in The City That Dares Not Sleep!
The final installment of Telltale’s latest Sam and Max saga opens with our old friend, the B movie Narrator telling us that by the end of the story, one of the characters we’ve come to know and love will betray Sam and Max! A revelation that when it comes, is delivered with brilliant wit and comic timing.
The episode then kicks off into a suitably epic title sequence (an aspect this episode doesn’t skimp on!) charging Sam with a mission to assemble a team to get inside Giant Max and perform brain surgery to bring him back to normal.
That’s about as much as I can give away without ruining anything but what follows is another wacky, funny adventure through the Freelance Police’s twisted world. The City That Dares Not Sleep features some good puzzles, though I have to say it is by no means the strongest of the season in this respect. With Max absent from his normal role and his psychic toys not available, Sam is left to solve puzzles the old fashioned way. The episode includes a range of mechanics from dialogue puzzles – simple or otherwise – to a nice ‘collect the ingredients’ section at the beginning. Curiously, the lack of psychic toys didn’t bother me at all but it would have been nice to have a completely new and inventive puzzle mechanic thrown in to compensate.
If you have been disappointed by the characters Telltale brought back for season three, or felt your favourite was missed out you won’t be disappointed by The City That Dares Not Sleep. Fittingly, the final episode manages to reunite Sam with an array of old friends, whether that be through a clever plot device or contrived puzzle, either way you’ll laugh. And laughing is something you will be doing a lot this month. Episode 5 is really funny, both in the usual Sam and Max wacky visual treats way and because it sports some cracking dialogue. There’s some really subtle stuff too, that’ll have you doing a double-take with your ears!
The settings for each episode have been really important this season and Telltale doesn’t disappoint here, either. The City That Dares Not Sleep manages to treat players to an array of old favourites whilst still basing the bulk of the episode in a completely new and suitably mental setting. The new area, which isn’t strictly new you just haven’t seen it yet, is the perfect showcase for the series abstract, silly, self-referential humour. Brilliantly, it leads to you being able to actually control Giant Max, as he stomps around the titular city. This I particularly enjoyed for some reason, perhaps it was the Monster Movie thing… Sadly though, I didn’t get to destroy anything!
Giant Max is really well designed and rendered, and is testament to the visual quality of season three. He looks like a horrid 1950s, city-destroying monster but he also looks like Max. And when he’s stomping around, smashing things and eating corn dogs you can’t for one second forget the character he used to be.
On balance, The City That Dares Not Sleep didn’t catch me quite like episode 4 did. Maybe it was the penultimate episode’s brilliant finale, or because the final episode endeavours to bring back old faces. Faces I’m not attached to because, baring this season, I’m new to the series. Wherever it ranks overall, The City That Dares Not Sleep suffers from none of the earlier episodes’ inconsistencies and manages to offer a solid, funny, ambitious and – by the end – moving conclusion to a really super season!
Long live Telltale! Bring on Back To The Future!
Mark’s Score 3/5 starks