Gaming enthusiasts around the world are excited about Tuesday the 18th, the day when the second episode of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse series – called the “The Tomb of Sammun-Mak” – will release. As writer and lead designer for this episode, I’m…well, I was about to say I was the most excited of all, but judging from some of the postings around the web, I’m not even in the top ten percent. Sam & Max have some pretty excitable fans. But I’m right up there.
For those new to the series, Sam & Max are the Freelance Police, a team that is to crime what BP is to the Gulf of Mexico. The Devil’s Playhouse, architected by Chuck Jordan, based on the characters created by Steve Purcell, is a mind-bending mélange of sci-fi, horror and really demented comedy all centering around a mysterious box containing Toys of Power.
Like an HBO series, The Devil’s Playhouse has a continuing storyline delivered in regular installments, one that builds to a shattering climax. Each episode within the continuum has its own story arc, yet it must build on the ones that came before and set up the ones that come after…no small challenge for the designer.
Episode 2 is essentially the “back story”. While “The Penal Zone” premiere episode plunged the player directly into the action without a lot of explanation, “The Tomb of Sammun-Mak” takes a step back to clue the player in on just what the hell is going on. In fact, we’ll literally be stepping back—109 years, to the time of our protagonists’ great grandparents Sameth and Maximus. It was a lot of fun to give America’s best-loved dog-and-lagomorph team a steam-age makeover. We answer a few questions raised in episode 1: just how did an interdimensional toybox wind up underneath our heroes’ office building? And while we’re at it, we sketch out some origin stories for several of the other denizens of Sam & Max’s off-kilter world. A monthly episodic gaming series is brand new to PlayStation Network, and we hope you’ll take a look. If you’re keen to sample before buying, check out the trial download, also available on PSN.