Review

Hector: Badge of Carnage Review (PC)

Hector: Badge of Carnage is the point and click adventure series from start up developer Straandlooper. Beginning life as an iPhone title, the PC versions of its three episodes are being released in co-operation with adventure game factory Telltale Games. It’s clear why the latter party was willing to get involved with the indie dev as Hector is very much inline with Telltale’s own output, throwing back to the glory days of LucasArts and Sierra Online adventures.

Hector’s debut episode We Negotiate With Terrorists absolutely succeeds in channelling this old school experience providing memorable characters, smart dialogue and a satirical look at a world.

The game expertly lampoons the seedier side of Britain with often hilarious results

In this case the world is Clapper’s Wreake, “the town that took the “Great” of out Britain”, the home of some of the worst elements of British society. Tracksuit-wearing Chavs, pervy old blind men, skanky street walkers and grotesquely overweight porn barons are just a few of the character types you can expect to cross paths with.

Everything is rendered in a cartoony style reminiscent of Flash animation so such unsavoury characters and environments are handled in a fairly light manner. Overall the game’s tone is reminiscent of the Leisure Suit Larry series, purposely delving into adult and often seedy territory but handling it in a clever and satirical fashion.

This is largely due to the excellent writing which is genuinely funny. Not only does it contain some excellent barbs towards other characters, British culture and the player but it also isn’t afraid to make fun of the adventure game genre. Our protagonist Detective Inspector Hector, a drink-obsessed, porn-loving slob with little respect for the finer points of the law, could’ve easily been a one-dimensional, unlikeable Neanderthal if not for the superb writing. Instead he’s endearing, kind of like a cartoon DCI Gene Hunt cranked up to 11.

Despite being a drink-obsessed, porn-loving slob with little respect for the finer points of the law, Detective Inspector Hector is surprisingly endearing

This opening episode revolves around a terrorist who has barricaded himself inside a building with a handful of hostages. With the majority of Clappers Wreake’s police negotiators either taken out by the terrorist’s sniper fire or simply too stupid to help, it’s down to gravelly-voiced Hector to resolve the situation. That is, if he can find some trousers to wear and a way out of the locked police cell that he spent the night in.

Game play is pretty standard fair for an adventure game of this type. Various requirements have to be met through finding, combining and using items in puzzle scenarios spanning several different locations. There are also a couple of times you’ll need to convince denizens of Clappers Wreake to give up items through some simple dialogue trees.

With classic game play comes classic issues. All are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things such as the times when interactive items look indistinguishable from the game’s backdrops. However, a robust hint system (which is an absolute must in modern adventure games) is on hand should you get stuck. Not only does Hector feature an extensive branching hint menu (written in an often hilarious belligerent tone) but it also has a straight up walkthrough if you find the hints to be of little use.

Hector’s voice acting deserves a special mention. The game’s cartoony caricatures excellently well acted but it’s even more impressive when you take into account that every single character in the game is acted by one man, Richard Morss.

Hector is an absolute must for fans of point and click adventures

This first episode is about the same length as your typical Telltale episode, asking for about three hours of your time if you’re an experienced adventure gamer. It’s appropriately priced too, costing around £6 - £9 depending on where you’re buying from (FYI, it seems to be cheapest on Telltale Games’ website).

Fans of classic adventure gaming should absolutely check out the Hector: Badge of Carnage series. The point and click formula is present and largely unchanged from the golden age of the genre but the unique well-realised setting and the excellent writing put this well above the mediocrity bar.

Top Game Moment: Conversing with the taser-toting granny who’s convinced that you’re a molester. With some excellent dialogue and fantastic man-imitating-old-woman voice acting she can’t help but remind me of a Monty Python character.

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Comments

By Thibby (SI Core Veteran) on May 26, 2011
Thibby
It looks quit funny really, I'll take this one in consideration :)