Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 30
  2. Negative: 0 out of 30
  1. 100
    It's a bigger, better-looking adventure that moves the series forward in some surprising and substantial ways, and it remains one of the few legitimately funny games out there.
  2. While I would have been happy with nothing more than a new batch of cases to solve, The Penal Zone offers a crazy new narrative, improved graphics, a gripping storyline, an improved control scheme and brand new psychic abilities.
  3. The first chapter of Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse shows us that storytelling in games doesn't have to be a luxury, and perhaps shouldn't be. In The Penal Zone, good writing isn't just an added bonus: it infuses every aspect of play.
  4. Given Telltale's record for producing excellent games, returning fans shouldn't even think twice about picking up this first chapter for Chapter 3.
  5. With the trademark sharp witticisms layered onto challenging and inventive puzzles, this is the best possible start to the new season.
  6. The Penal Zone is a really good adventure game, and has the chances of being the best Season of Sam & Max that has come along, but it still has some minor bugs to work out with the interface.
  7. But with a great new graphical presentation and the immensely upgraded gameplay interface that really improves the gameplay, the first episode of the third Sam & Max season is an entirely unexpected gaming treat.
  8. PC Zone UK
    It's funny, clever and thoroughly enjoyable to play. [July 2010, p.86]
  9. Overall, The Penal Zone's story does have the feel of an opening chapter, delivering more setup than self-contained story.
  10. Not that the other games in the series were slouches when it came to their style, but the new season blows them all out of the water, with enhanced graphics and gameplay improvements that move the series in a wonderful direction.
  11. The 3D graphics are still cartoonily swell, if still a bit on the overly pastelish, blocky side. The duo's sarcastic dialog is as caustic and hilarious as ever. The villains and other NPCs are still deliciously loony. The one headline new wrinkle is that this season Max has been granted "Psi" powers. Of course, you have to trundle around "earning" them via gameplay, but they should add a welcome new dimension to the episodes.
  12. Sam & Max are back and as whacky as we love em! However the episode lacks difficulty and will be hard to understand for anyone whose mother tongue isn't English.
  13. PC Gamer UK
    An incredibly refreshing reinvention of the S&M games, much funnier, and far, far more interesting to play. [June 2010, p.96]
  14. PC Format
    They're not perfect, but these beloved characters are definitely in capable hands. [June 2010, p.100]
  15. It's been a whole two years without a new adventure for the Freelance Police, but the wait has been worth it, at least for one episode
  16. It clearly establishes a repeating theme of Max gaining and then exploiting ridiculous new psychic powers with each episode, something that, if the quality of the execution stays where it is, should make for a fun season.
  17. LEVEL (Czech Republic)
    Private investigators are back in full force. A two-year break served this series very well – you will enjoy every improvement they made to the graphics and interface. [Issue#191]
  18. PC PowerPlay
    This is the freshest that Sam & Max have been in a while. [July 2010, p.60]
  19. Sam & Max behind bars! That’s how the third season starts and it’s a great start, too. Lots of comedy, running gags, the return of beloved characters and new ideas - but still a bit too easy.
  20. A very decent start for the new season of Sam and Max.
  21. Two years later, TellTale strikes back with the first chapter of the third season of the adventures of Steve Purcell's charming characters: Sam & Max. New graphisc engine and several changes in the control system are its main features. And, for the first time, we get to control Max and his superpowers.
  22. Sam & Max are back and the first episode of the third season does not change the formula: humor, puzzles and a crazy detective dog with his fellow assistant. New Max's powers and an intricate storytelling are good enough to keep you playing for this good 4-5 hours adventure.
  23. Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse - Episode 1: The Penal Zone is a good start for the third series from Steve Purcell's pen. It really makes you want the next chapters right away.
  24. While there have been some changes like the new controls and the first person view with Max, this is more of the same interesting stuff as the first and second seasons. The Devil’s Playhouse is finely crafted with classic gameplay and humor.
  25. 72
    As an introduction to the season, The Penal Zone does a good job of setting the stage for more zaniness to come. Unfortunately, the story elements here are a bit thin but at least the episode focuses on one truly interesting new character in the cast.
  26. A solid if predictable start to the new season, but still one of Telltale's better graphic adventures.
  27. A good episode with a spoonful of originality, The Penal Zone is probably the best start of TellTaleGames' history. Taking Max's control directly is so amazing and explosive that any other feature looks less important: adventure games have founded a old/new (crazy) house. On the other hand the game is really short and controls for PC users are not very comfortable.
  28. The Penal Zone is a very enjoyable adventure game with fresh and interesting puzzles, great humour and good presentation. The lack of a good point & click interface lets it down somewhat, but it's still well worth buying.
  29. While it's enjoyable to solve puzzles and uncover a story in a genre that doesn't receive a lot of mileage these days, it's a little unfortunate that the themes and humor borrow from this ancient Looney Tunes-meets-90s-attitude rather than create a new world and identity all its own.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jun 5, 2014
    [Sam&Max Season 3 - SteamPC - 9/10] Point and click adventure goodness with Detectives Sam and Max using new twists. The writers succeeded in[Sam&Max Season 3 - SteamPC - 9/10] Point and click adventure goodness with Detectives Sam and Max using new twists. The writers succeeded in creating more interesting puzzles and interesting and successful story mechanics - Simultaneous Multiple Universes - Present Past and Future coexisting in your Brain - and to top it all off they worked in some special powers for Max. The unusual irreverent humor is Present and In Your Face. Add to Fart. Bingo.

    [Released 2010 and played four years later]
    [DRM] Steam only, thank goodness there are no GamesForWindowsLive on this title, nor Uplay, nor Origin, nor RockstarSocialClub, I did not have to create an alternative account.

    [MyPC 2011] i7-2600K 3.4GHz / ASUS Z68 ProGen3 / 8G RAM / Radeon 6870 / W7 PRO SP1 / Samsung 275T @1920x1200 / Logitech G15 / Kensington ExpertMouse / Sennheiser HD 600

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  2. Apr 28, 2012
    The Penal Zone started off this fantastic comedy saga. All I have to say is this : This episode is well designed, the graphics are very good,The Penal Zone started off this fantastic comedy saga. All I have to say is this : This episode is well designed, the graphics are very good, the actors are brilliant, the gameplay is fun and the storyline is brilliant and hillarious. That goes for every episode. Full Review »