The Penal Zone

For the first time today, the world gets exposed to The Penal Zone, the first episode in the new Sam & Max series!

The first episode of Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse is out today for PC, Mac, and the PlayStation Network for PS3. Of course, if you were my real friend you would’ve already bought it by now, but as a special bonus offer, Telltale is still allowing you to buy it.

Plus there’s crazy cool extra stuff, like special stuff for your characters in Team Fortress 2 if you buy it from Steam, thanks to Jake and Robert and the fine folks at Valve Software. (You need to buy it from Telltale to get the collector’s disc at the end of the season, though). And also a Flaming Max Head shot glass and a Max Imp T-Shirt which I didn’t know the store was selling and I totally want now. It’s a madhouse! A madhouse of savings!

The first episode in the series is called The Penal Zone, and it’s about OH MY GOD I JUST GOT THAT JOKE. I wish somebody had warned me that it sounded kind of like a dirty word when we were coming up with the ideas for the episodes. As it is I had to find out from people who write blog comments.

Anyway, The Penal Zone is the most deeply personal game I’ve worked on. As you can imagine, growing up in the South in the late 70s and 80s, I saw first-hand the effects of hyper-intelligent alien gorilla invasions, and I recognized that this is a story that needs to be told. But the media always presents a one-sided picture, to let complacent middle Americans point the finger of blame at someone and then pat themselves on the back saying “We’ve solved the space gorilla problem.” It was important to me that The Penal Zone be not just a lecture, but a forum for open discourse and, yes, healing. I believe that videogames can make a difference — I have to believe that — and this game is my own humble way of showing all other game developers what’s possible with the medium.

PROTIP: My favorite gag in the game is when you look at the antenna on top of Bosco-Tech Labs.


  1. Kroms Avatar

    My favorite gag (so far) is a hidden one (spoilers, in case anyone hasn’t played it): Use Max’s mind-reading power on Skunkape as he holds onto the railings at the beginning of the game, and he says something like, “Hold on, Skunkape. Do not show them you are crying inside.” I was in tears at that one.

    So yeah, anyways, it’s reallyyyy good and I just wanted to say your hard work’s paid off (so far! I’m still in Act 2, but taking a mini-break). I know you were a little grouchy about it, especially over the Holidays/Christmas, so I just wanted to say the fans appreciate it.

    Anyways, back to the game.

  2. Chuck Avatar

    You must have me confused with someone else. I’m never grouchy. In fact I’ve been compared to a ray of sunshine on multiple occasions.

  3. Larry Hosken Avatar

    We just bask in your glow, sir. We just bask in your glow.

  4. Tjibbbe Avatar

    Congratulations Chuck! I just finished it, and it truly is excellent. And I’m not just saying that. I always loved the games Telltale made, but I have to be fair and admit that they always felt a bit less epic than traditional games (apart from that I love episodic), but this just blows everything you guys did before out of the water. The city feels real and alive, Sam & Max actually are detectives this time, the presentation is flawless, the animation(!) is better than ever and it all just [I]feels[/I] more and more like a real adventure, like you’re actually playing the comics. The fact that this is just the first episode blows my mind. I can’t wait for the coming episodes. Just great, great work by everyone on the team. Being inside Max’s brain is hilariously creepy. I hope that you guys will do more weird gameplay things like this in the future, it makes the game so much more special.

    Best scene: offering the ring to Max. Made me extremely happy.

  5. Chuck Avatar

    Glad you liked it!

  6. Kroms Avatar

    Yeah, with all the crazy attention to detail, the wonderful design and, well, I don’t wanna make you embarrassed so I’ll spare you and just say that this was an excellent game. Probably Telltale’s best. Great work, Chuck! Let’s see if you can match it on episode 5. Looking forward to it! 🙂

  7. Chuck Avatar

    Really glad to hear you guys are enjoying it. Remember that when you’re talking about attention to detail, visuals, and even the fact that the game exists, that’s the work of Nick, Dennis, Jake, Pete, Derek, Bogan, Franklin, and pretty much the entire rest of the company.