Story (4 out of 5)
Their story begins when Sam and Max travel to the North Pole to see Santa Claus. Apparently an evil, giant robot they destroyed back home was sent from Santa’s workshop. The two detectives are shocked when they find out Santa has snapped, by going berserk with a machine gun and making harmful toys for kids. It’s up to the two detectives to stop psycho Santa from sending these toys, like the Torture-Me-Elmer, to kids or else Christmas will be ruined.
The real reason why you play Sam & Max games is to experience the stories and listen to the conversations between the characters. If you had a good time with Sybil, Flint, Bosco, Agent SuperBall, and the other cast members from Season One, you should enjoy their company as they return here in Season Two. You will get to know more about some of these characters. You’ll find out about the relationship between Sybil and her boyfriend, a head bust of Abe Lincoln, detective Flint and his ongoing case on Bosco, and the true story behind Bosco’s paranoid ideas concerning a group called T-H-E-M.
There are plenty of new characters to meet, some of the more memorable ones being the baby Hoffa, the Moai statue half submerged into the ground, an evil vampire, zombies, and Bosco’s mother who happens to be a feminist.
Humor (3 out of 5)
The same brand of humor from Season One continues on here in Season Two. The attempts at comedy here have their ups and downs. The goods go to Max, who still delivers his dry sarcastic tone and his wonderful play on words. The characters are a silly and bizarre bunch, which is why they are funny as well, so don’t expect the majority of them to be normal in any way. Just order some subs at Stinky’s diner and see what kinds of "food" she packs in between the bread.
Telltale does a good job of bringing a comedic angle to serious subjects and characters. They make Santa a crazed killer, have Abe Lincoln become a flirtatious character, and turn Hell into a well organized corporate office. Anyone who enjoys that kind of comedy should enjoy this Sam & Max series.
The low point to this series is Max. He has funny lines and does funny things on occasion, like using his armpit to make fart noises, but after many episodes with this rabbit, most of his actions have gotten tired. Yes, Max is still throwing his one liners at almost everything you interact with. Sometimes his constant remarks about even the most mundane objects you interact with can get annoying. Does he really need to make a wisecrack comment on almost everything I click on? Hopefully the next season of Sam & Max will cut down on his jokes since there’s really nothing new you haven’t heard before.
Gameplay (3 out of 5)
One of the main differences from Season One is a new hint system where you are given clues if you end up getting stuck on what to do next or how to solve a puzzle. Sam will suggest what location you should visit or what item will solve the puzzle. The hint system has different levels, where you can choose to have none at all or get plenty of clues. It’s a nice feature to help folks who are new to adventures games, but veterans shouldn’t be too tempted to crank the hint system to the max or else the game will be too easy and boring.
The puzzles and mini-games have their hits and misses. The best mini-game in the second episode is Moai Better Blues, where you have to avoid bottles thrown at you while standing on a bucking surf board. It’s the best one because it provides the biggest challenge. The other mini-games, like doing a drive-by on zombies, are more amusing but also much easier.
The puzzles fall along the lines of most traditional adventure games, searching around for items to collect, then using them to interact with something else, thereby opening the doors to the next part of the game. Sometimes you will need to use both your eye and your head to make sure you’ve studied every part of the scene. You might struggle when you’re just not looking hard enough. There might be an item or a path right there in front of you. It’s important to listen to what the characters say, as they will sneak in clues that can help solve a puzzle or figure out what to do next. Don’t get in the habit of skipping the conversation trees even if some of them tend to be chatty folks or you might miss something.
Sam & Max Season Two continues on with the same brand of humor and unpredictable plot twists that was in Season One. What’s probably the best part about this series is the bizarre characters you encounter.
People who haven’t played Season One might not get some of the jokes here, like the ones in Sam and Max’s office. In their office they’ve collected several items from Season One, like the head of the United States president.
The cases Sam & Max have to deal with are beyond normal, logical, or plain, so if you don’t mind visiting strange islands, meeting vampires and zombies, and taking on Satan in the underworld, then this series should provide a few good adventures to get into. It’s not always going to be easy or predictable, as the puzzles and mini-games present a few good challenges and variety, as long as you don’t raise the level too high in the hint system. Anyone who enjoys adult-comedy while searching around for items to collect should check out the Sam & Max series.