Sam and Max Season 1 (PC) – Review

Sam and Max Season 1When LucasArts canned Sam and Max Freelance Police back in March 2004 (as well as a sequel to Full Throttle) despite the team making good progress on the game, many fans feared that killed off any hopes for the adventure game genre. However, as word got around that Telltale Games had acquired the rights for the Sam and Max franchise and were working on a new game, joy spread out across the land. Telltale Games, working along with Steve Purcell, creator of the dog/lagomorph duo, has created a 6 part, episodic approach to adventure game, which was released roughly monthly over an 8 month period through several channels, including through GameTap as well as downloadable versions direct from Telltale. Sam and Max Season 1 is definitely a return to classic form for the adventure game as well as appealing to Sam and Max fans everywhere, though the episodic nature of the game does limit the difficulty of puzzles that can be put in while keeping each episode playable without having completed the rest.

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Sam and Max Season 1 Episode 5 (PC) – Review

“Reality 2.0” was definitely a different step compared to the previous games, as both the formula was different in the game structure, but also had several nice nods to the geek culture (including a Mario and a Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy and a old Zork text adventure one).

It’s still as short as the others, but now with the end of the series in sight, it’s definitely looking like a good overall experience.

Sam and Max Season 1 Episode 4 (PC) – Review

I promise a full review of the ‘season’ once all 6 are out, but I will say that Episode 4 “Abe Lincoln Must Die!” felt a lot meatier than the previous installments, though there are still some issues with it’s episodic nature that can get in the way (which is why I plan to replay all 6 and review at length when available).

There’s a few more twisted puzzles in this game than the previous ones with a bit more reliance on lateral thinking problems.  This one had a couple that I was stumped on for a bit more, and it took me a bit more than 2 hours to complete, so the challenge, one could say, is building.  I also liked the fact that this game felt closer in concept to Hit the Road because of the involvement of Americana within the game (though you don’t travel far at all).  Add in a killer musical number, and I was laughing all the way through this one.

Beyond the length and some of the easiness of the puzzles, I am finding that these episodes are falling into a familiar pattern.  You have basically a 2.5 act show: one set of puzzles leading to a critical event, another set of puzzles leading to a second critical event, and then a final puzzle or handful to resolve the case.  Certainly, knowing how old LucasArts games worked and playing with Inform 7 for text adventures, the separate “act” approach to adventure games is relatively easy to do and can help to box the player in from doing other things you don’t want him to do yet, but I’d like to see a bit more mix-up in that for these episodes.

Still, however, in the barren land of adventure games, this series is still a gem.

Sam and Max Season One: Episode 3 (PC) – Review

Pretty much like the last episode, there’s really nothing wrong with the game from all the usual standpoints, but it’s not very long – it just takes less than 2 hours to complete.

I think I figured out the key problem with the game – it’s the fact that by dividing up a game the length of the original Sam and Max Hit the Road into 6 parts, you still get the same amount of gameplay, but because you have to limit a puzzle’s span to within 1/6th of the game, you don’t get any really long puzzles that would exist in a full game. While I could see them putting puzzles that span episodes, the game would be a bit harder given the release schedule (you may likely have to go back to play previous episodes if you forget the details of them in order to solve the puzzle).

The linking aspect of the episodes are pretty good, and while having more Sam and Max (even any adventure game) is good, I’m wondering how appropriate the episodic nature really is.

Sam and Max Episode 2 (PC) – Impressions

Was able to download the next episode of Sam and Max off of Gametap, and, unfortunately, was able to finish it in one sitting today.  While most of the technical and creative factors of the game are just as good as the first game, the biggest problem I found was that it was too easy.  Normally Sam and Max has worked off some lateral thinking problems (like taking a word for it’s literal meaning, or using a tool in an unexpected, but somehow logical fashion), but none of the puzzles in Ep2 had that – they were all straight forward, and relatively simple to solve.  It only took me about 1.5hr to complete, which is unfortunate.

I’m hoping for a more challenging puzle in the remaining episodes.