Sam & Max Season 3: The Devil’s Toybox: Episode 4: Beyond the Alley of the Dolls (PC, PS3, iPad)

Sam & Max aren’t your regular police force…they’re the Freelance Police. Sam is a no-nonsense dog detective and his pal Max is a hyperkinetic rabbity thing. For more than 20 years they’ve been serving their brand of justice on the pages of underground comic books, on a Saturday morning cartoon, and in some popular computer adventure games. Now they’re ready for their third season of crazy madcap episodic point and click adventures! (PC version reviewed here)

In their last episode of a five part season, Sam & Max had just defeated a pharaoh tyrant who could bend reality with the help of the Devil’s Toybox. But before the duo could celebrate, an army of Sam clones (or “Dogglegangers” as Max calls them) start lumbering out in zombie droves, terrorizing the city. It’s up to Sam & Max to figure out who is responsible for these clones and solve the mystery of their purpose.

By now, Max has a full arsenal of psychic toys to use at his disposal to help you solve puzzles. The toy telephone lets Max teleport to any working phone he knows the number of. Rhinoplasty is like Silly Putty and lets Max morph into whatever picture you rub off it. The Deck of Cards lets Max read other’s thoughts, while the ViewMaster allows you to see into the future (useful for figuring out what you need to do next). You’ll discover other toys, too. It’s like a twisted and demented Toy Story!

The point and click riddles are wacky and fun, but rely a bit too much on trial and error this time around, unfortunately. The writing is still witty and clever, and the play control is easy to learn. It does help a little to play the past episodes in the Sam & Max series so you’ll know who all the crazy characters are! Can’t wait for the final episode!

PS: Dear Telltale, Sal the cockroach is awesome. I hope he somehow returns…

Kid Factor:

Beyond the Alley of the Dolls is rated E-10 for Everyone 10 and up with ESRB descriptors of Alcohol Reference, Comic Mischief, Language, Mild Cartoon Violence, and Suggestive Themes. Most of these are just referred to in text only. Sam & Max do use guns, but mostly to solve puzzles. But here, they use them a lot more to shoot the zombie dogs off screen. Some families with strict religious beliefs may not like some of the references to the occult. If you’re OK with your kids watching satirical TV shows like The Simpsons, they’ll be OK here, too.

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