Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 3 Review

Finally, all the threads are coming together. A terrorist is on the loose in Clappers Wreake, executing a plot that threatens to destroy the British town, and only Detective Inspector Hector and his partner can stop it. With puzzle-solving.

And after three episodes, Hector: Badge of Carnage comes together in a similarly satisfying way, with all its previous gameplay, plot and characters wrapping up in a way that pays off everything that came before. It also does right what the other episodes did — it’s funny, it’s gross, it’s often clever and it’s well-paced.

When we left Hector and Lambert in Episode 2, they had been knocked out. They awaken in Episode 3 in yet another grisly trap from which they need to escape. With the investigation portion of the game at a close and the terrorist’s identity known from Episode 2, this episode is all about getting Hector back to Clappers Wreake and stopping the plot in its tracks. It’s duly large and intense-feeling, while maintaining the point-and-click adventure sensibilities on which the game has been built all along. This time around, however, puzzles feel a touch easier and characters a little less bogged down with useless dialog (though not by much), and that serves the game well to keep things driving forward.

Episode 3 feels a lot more together in some ways than the earlier two episodes. For example, the game includes a larger reminiscent of the opening of Episode 2, in which the player can control both the fat-but-strong Hector and the skinny-while-weak Lambert in turns. Handing items back and forth between the two characters and having them work together makes for some interesting puzzles in the early going. That mechanic was underused, unfortunately, in Episode 2; in Ep. 3 there’s more of it, it works better, and there are some interesting riffs on the interactions between the characters later on, when Hector can actually put Lambert in his inventory and use him to solve other puzzles.

Most of the game takes place at a festival for Clappers Wreake, which isn’t quite so large as Episode 2′s city-spanning detective work, but still packs quite a bit of content. Walking from one end of the fair to the other takes a bit of time and there are a lot of returning characters to interact with along the way. It’s a great way to help gauge Hector’s progress through the course of the game — several characters whose lives have been ravaged or otherwise spun around by Hector’s actions in Episode 1 are back with updates as to what happened to them in the interim. Lots has happened, and it matters to characters that Hector has gone and burned down their businesses or what have you. It also leaves good opportunities for Hector to further screw up lives in the name of justice.

It feels like the difficulty of Hector episodes has been on the decline ever since Episode 1, and Ep. 3 is definitely the easiest of the set. Although “easy” may not be the correct word for it, so much as “obvious” or perhaps even “logical.” Episode 1 is chock full of esoteric puzzles that are actually kind of difficult to solve because, often, you’d never think to combine one weird thing with some other weird thing. By Ep. 3, you’re clicking everyone on every screen to see if it can be picked up, and if you dead-end on a puzzle, you’ll try everything in your inventory once to try and figure it out. But even then, Ep. 3 puzzles tend to be easier to divine; the game stopped me up only once or twice this time through with something that was a bit iffy, but in retrospect, I always felt like I should have known.

That said, the difficulty feels right on point for Episode 3 because keeping it just easy enough keeps the pace going, and that’s really what’s great about this one. Ep. 3 never drags, and as you’re approaching the game’s thrilling conclusion, it really is a bit of a thrilling conclusion — at least for a point-and-click title. Everything set up from earlier episodes comes to a head and while the game maintains Hector’s standard plodding speed for the most part, there’s still a good progression from one story point to the next. Unlike Episode 2, where there was a bit of a glut of puzzles to solve all at once without really much forward motion until they were all solved, each mental victory in Ep. 3 takes you one step closer to the end, and it always feels like you’re successfully driving toward stopping the terrorist.

Just as importantly, when it comes time for Hector to be completed, the game wraps everything up with a high degree of satisfaction. For some reason, video games often struggle to have a conclusion that really feels conclusive — probably because no one ever wants to shut the door on a sequel — but Hector makes you glad you took the journey and lets you know that yes, everything you worked at was worth something and the story and its arc are now completed. That Hector ties everything off so well makes it feel good to be done with the title and good to have played it.

Taken together, Hector: Badge of Carnage is a pretty strong entry into the point-and-click genre and another great one in Telltale’s stable. It starts off a little roughly but by the time you’re most of the way through Episode 1, both player a title create an amiable give and take just like a cop and his partner. That cop happens to be loud, buffoonish, sarcastic and gross, as is Badge of Carnage, and that lets it strike a chord that most other games miss or avoid. It’s a quality experience all the way through and funny more often than not.

Pros:

  • Great conclusion to the game
  • Puzzles make sense, for the most part
  • Still funny like previous episodes
  • Satisfying and well-paced
  • Hits a better stride than earlier episodes

Cons:

  • Nitpick: Might be a little too easy

Final Score: 85/100

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