Dare not to laugh with this hilarious compilation and the Freelance Police may just put you under arrest!

User Rating: 8 | Sam & Max: Season One PC
As far as gaming characters go, they don't get more wacky than Sam and Max. The Freelance Police, composed of a talking dog wearing a fedora (Sam) and a hyperkinetic rabbity thing (Max), were introduced to the world all the way back in 1987 as a comic series. Eventually they made their way into the gaming world with Sam and Max: Hit the Road in 1993, and after some bumps in the road are now back in "Sam and Max: Season One" a compilation of the first six episodes of their newly found episodic life. Filled with ridiculous situations and more laughs than should be allowed by the law (wait a second, Sam and Max are the law!) all six episodes from Season One are a delight to play for both adventure fans as well as anyone who appreciates good ol' dark humor.

Each episode of Season One tells a standalone story that fits into a longer story arch. The Season starts with "Culture Shock", where the beloved duo makes their triumphant return and must figure out why a bunch of former TV stars (The Soda Poppers) appear to be acting under the effects of hypnosis, promoting the benefits of following a certain fellow by the name of Brady Culture. The second episode, "Situation Comedy" sees a crazed talk show host hold her audience hostage, as well as also appear to display hypnotic behavior, while the Freelance Police must somehow acquire media recognition. By the time the third episode, "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball" rolls out, it becomes clear that a greater power is using hypnosis to execute a malevolent plan, as the hypnotic behavior can now be tracked down to the Toy Mafia (a bunch of mobsters wearing teddy bear outfits). In episode four, "Abe Lincoln Must Die!", the duo continues to make further strives in their attempt to unfold the hypnosis conspiracy while our beloved Max reaches the pinnacle of political power. Episode five, "Reality 2.0" serves as a tribute to the yesteryears of gaming, while unfolding the final clues behind the greater conspiracy. The series finale, "Bright Side of the Moon" unveils the true mastermind behind the nasty plot and calls for Sam and Max to pull out a rabbit out of the hat (no pun intended) to bring a stop to this evil masterplan.

The story itself is quite entertaining and plays out nicely through the episodes, but what really brings Sam and Max to life is the wacky humor that has been a staple of the series from the very start. The game is filled with satirical commentary aimed at today's society, along with some delightful humor delivered by the main characters. Every interaction with the gameworld is followed by a hilarious one liner, such as Sam's ridiculous responses whenever he receives an order from the commissioner or a twisted and violent solution to a simple problem by Max. The supporting cast of characters help sell the humor, with regular characters Sybil Pandemik (a woman who changes careers more frequently than her underwear) and Bosco (the owner of the local Inconvenience store, specializing on charging ridiculous amounts of money for useful junk) providing recurring gags through the entire season.

From a puzzle standpoint, Season One doesn't offer much of a challenge, but considering the nature of the game that's actually a good thing, as it never interrupts the flow of wicked humor. Most of the puzzles have simple solutions that won't take long to figure out thanks in part to the very limited inventory at your disposal. Dialogue puzzles in particular are almost always rather obvious. In the latter episodes there are a few puzzles that do present a bit of a challenge, though in some cases that's because of certain items located in illogical places or far away from your current location. The weakest puzzles in the game are those that require excessive backtracking between the environments. Overall though, the quality of the puzzles is great and compliments the nature of the game.

The visuals in Sam and Max sport a cartoony style that looks terrific and helps accentuate the comedic nature of the recurring themes. The environments are colorful and full of charm, as well as every character model. The soundtrack is composed mostly of jazzy tunes that fit the detective theme perfectly, along with a few wacky songs related to a theme within the episodes. The voice work is also very well done. You can notice how the voice acting improves as the season progresses, as the actors settle more and more into their roles.

It's important to note that due to the episodic nature of the series (each episode was originally released about a month from each other), playing the entire season in succession can be somewhat detrimental to the experience. Several locations are constantly recycled in each episode as well as certain jokes, which can lead to a sense of repetition as you start making deep progress. Though it can still be very enjoyable to play the entire season in quick succession, I would recommend to take at least a week or two between each episode to help keep things a bit more fresh.

It's hard not to fall in love with such demented characters and even if the game itself doesn't offer much of a challenge, it's worth playing simply for it's comedic value. For long time fans of the characters as well as adventure gaming fans, Sam and Max: Season One provides a delightful experience filled with twisted humor and many memorable moments.