Hector: Badge of Carnage Review

I’ve been spending a lot of time with Telltale Games lately. We’re nearing the end of the five-episode run of Back to the Future, and I got to mess with Jurassic Park briefly at Game Developers Conference 2011.

Hector: Badge of Carnage! is a different animal from many of the other games Telltale has made. It’s a parody of a cop drama, animated with a great cartoon style, and rife with lewd concepts and British slang. Players take on the role of Hector, a hard-drinking detective inspector in an English town called Clapper’s Wreake. In the first episode, Hector is charged with negotiating the release of some hostages from a building in which a rifle-toting psychotic sharpshooter has taken up residence.


Hector: Badge of Carnage (PC [Reviewed], IPhone, IPad)
Developer: Straandlooper
Publisher: Telltale Games
Release Date: April 27, 2011
MSRP: $9.99

That’s pretty much the extent of the introduction to the story in Episode One. The subtitle of this episode (there are three planned, with the other two coming this fall) is “We Negotiate with Terrorists,” so you can likely guess what the situation is. Telltale titles like Hector are point-and-click adventure-style games, in which you’ll have to solve puzzles by talking to folks and bringing objects to the right locations. Most of the game is spent figuring out how to meet the terrorist’s demands.

What sets Hector apart is it’s style and raunch-level. The first puzzle finds Hector locked in a jail cell, having passed out from drinking the night before. His pants are missing. I won’t blow the puzzle for you because it’s kind of hilarious, but one of the elements in this very first run is a condom. There’s also a disgusting toilet involved. This sets the tone for the rest of the game — later areas are equally gross, and often the Hector really hits a stride of gross-out adult humor.

It’s the game’s sense of humor, actually, that makes it worth playing — although not all the jokes are winners. Hector’s abrasive personality sometimes leads him to say some goofy things, and he insists on insulting everyone he comes across. This occasionally has great results, as does Hector’s running commentary on everything he looks at, touches and investigates. Hector’s a good character to have around in a game, and a decent barometer is that if you like the game’s trailers, you’ll like the game itself.

From a puzzle-solving standpoint, Hector strikes a decent balance between being challenging and making sense. As Hector wanders through Clappers Wreake, he’ll find problems that need solving and people that need to be convinced of various things in order to finish the episode. While the puzzles will likely stump players momentarily, what each solution eventually becomes pretty apparent, especially as you wander to different areas of the city and starting finding the objects you need to complete each objective.

“We Negotiate with Terrorists” will last around two hours and is a solid point-and-click adventure. It’s a pretty well-balanced experience, and while it drags in kind of the standard way that Telltale games do — there’s a lot of dialog that doesn’t go anywhere and you kind of have to go through all of it in order to obtain whatever information or options you need to advance. And as mentioned before, the humor isn’t all gold every step of the way. While Hector is a fairly funny game on the whole, it’s no Portal 2, for example.

What Clappers Wreake, Detective Inspector Hector and Badge of Carnage could all use is more time to develop. The episode itself isn’t bad, but it’s not particularly engaging — the hostage situation lacks stakes and one wonders why Hector, drunk and belligerent, isn’t on the opposite side of the badge alongside the people he’s shaking down. His overall attitude can be funny, but it’s also a little much at times.

Most of these concerns, however, can probably be alleviated with more episodes — which are in the pipe. As it stands, if you already know you like Telltale’s brand of adventure games and its find-and-combine-the-object puzzles, you’ll have a good time with Hector because it’s familiar territory. This isn’t an excursion for children, but Telltale fans will likely get a kick out of the humor and adult themes, even if the story is generally a little flat.

Pros:

  • Adult-oriented story
  • Generally pretty funny
  • Puzzles, for the most part, make sense and aren’t too difficult
  • Solid hint system that keeps you moving forward
  • Funny characters and dialog with good production values

Cons:

  • Not all the humor is actually humorous
  • Story lacks real drive and needs more development
  • Adult-themed humor will appeal to some and turn others off

Final Score: 75

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