Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 2 Review

Detective Inspector Hector of Clapper’s Wreake is back following the ending of Episode One: We Negotiate with Terrorists, being held hostage himself at the business end of a sniper rifle. This is your introduction to the latest chapter in the game and a reminder of what the hell is going on in Clapper’s Wreake.

Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 2 — Senseless Acts of Justice (PC [Reviewed], iPhone, iPad)
Developer: Straandlooper
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: August 25, 2011
MSRP: $14.99 (three episodes)

The second episode of three of Hector: Badge of Carnage, Straandlooper and Telltale‘s humorous and adult-oriented point-and-click adventure, Senseless Acts of Justice brings Hector back in pretty solid form after his last go-round, the review of which you can read here. This episode is longer, larger and more involved, with players gaining the ability to head to several different locations at will and requiring a lot more step-by-step puzzle-solving than in Episode One. It seems like this episode has been better planned and executed than the first, as well — puzzles make more sense and are more intuitive and the humor lands on its feet more often than it falls flat.

In this episode, Hector finds himself trapped in the building where the terrorist from Episode One was believed to have been holed up, taking shots at police with a high-powered sniper rifle. The first couple of puzzles in the episode have to do with Hector’s escape from the building, and early on they work in some new tricks that we didn’t get to see the first time around. The more interesting one is the an involved puzzle to get Hector out of the building that involves his partner, Lambert. You’ll actually switch between controlling both characters, with Hector on the inside and Lambert on the outside of the building. Utilizing the two in tandem to solve the puzzle of escaping the building is pretty much the first thing that happens in the episode; it’s one of Senseless Acts of Justice’s better moments, and it’s a shame there aren’t more of them.

Once clear of the building, Hector starts to do actual detective work, and it’s refreshing after the go-fetch puzzles that make up the entirety of Episode One. Last time, Hector was fulfilling the demands of a terrorist who had him running off to complete various tasks; this time, you’re running down leads and taking them to their conclusions, trying to learn more about the identity of the terrorist. There are quite a few go-fetch puzzles in which you’ll need to help someone or find an item to bring back to access the story point that you need, but they’re a little more interesting. One puzzle, for example, requires you to take a woman on a date and then drug her so you can sneak back into her store and get into her filing cabinet, and while the scenario a little bit out there, it still feels like you’re actually playing some semblance of a police story — something Badge of Carnage lacked in its first outing.

As you might have guessed from the above scenario, the raunchy humor and ridiculous scenarios remain and are even heightened this time out, with Hector getting up to all kinds of hilarious and disgusting antics. You’ll sell stolen organs and burn down a church-turned-brothel before the end, and those are just two of the numerous puzzles to solve. All the puzzles in Episode Two intertwine; you’ll solve part of one to get through another, which will give you something you need for a third before you return to the first. To facilitate all that inter-puzzle-manipulation, you have access to a GPS map that lets you quickly travel between locations in Clapper’s Wreake, and that means this episode clips along a lot faster than Episode One, despite being about twice as long.

Senseless Acts still suffers from a few issues. While the humor is better, there are still some pretty Britain-specific references that will go right over U.S. players’ heads, and Hector’s constant narration, while sometimes funny, can be a little grating. If you like the character, you should be fine, but Episode Two has you hanging around with Hector for a much longer time, so if he annoys you, this might be a little more than you can handle.

Like last time, there still some pretty obscure puzzle solutions, although their not nearly as esoteric as in Episode One. The game provides a pretty great hint system if you get slowed up, but there still may be some moments where the not-so-obvious solution to a puzzle may elude you. I felt a lot better about the puzzles in Episode Two as compared to Episode One, but there were one or two moments when the game stalled me out completely with a solution I never would have guessed.

Getting over those few tough puzzle moments, however, I had a much better time with Hector: Episode Two than with Episode One. The writing seems sharper and the subtle references to popular culture like Se7en and video game franchises were hilariously underplayed. There were some very clever and pretty funny moments this time around, and I felt engaged all the way through despite the longer running time. And for the most part, the puzzles in Episode Two feel smarter rather than just more complex or less obvious. They’re challenging without being frustrating — and therefore, they’re more fun.

Together with Episode One, Hector: Badge of Carnage is shaping up to be a great, raunchy little adult point-and-click adventure. If Episode Three maintains the quality spike seen in the middle episode, the whole package will be a pretty solid and enjoyable puzzle-solving police comedy.

Pros:

  • Very funny at moments, pretty funny throughout most of the episode
  • Very adult humor
  • Smarter, better puzzles with less obscure solutions than last episode
  • Longer running time than Episode One
  • Story’s picking up
  • Feels more like a detective story, which is much more satisfying than in Episode One

Cons:

  • Still some tough-to-figure-out puzzle solutions
  • Writing can drag a bit in the middle

Final Score: 82/100

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