Not your typical hero in Hector: Badge of Carnage

I don’t remember when exactly, but there was a sale on Steam recently, and for the low, low price of $4.99, one could get all three episodes of Hector: Badge of Carnage, a smarmy point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games. That price seemed absolutely right, and my curiosity had already been flicked upwards after watching Giant Bomb do a Quick Look. Unfortunately, at that point, the wife and I were knee-deep in helping ghosts move on to the afterlife with the Blackwell games–and I just couldn’t sneak away to anything else until all four of those mysteries were solved. So I bought the package, downloaded all three episodes, and promptly ignored them for the time being.

But we finished those ghosty chronicles up, and now I’m ready for my next set of adventure games. Trust me, I have plenty to choose from: Gemini Rue, Jolly Rover, Beneath a Steel Sky, basically everything from the recent AGS Bake Sale, and a number of miscellaneous projects from Ben Chandler (City, Airwave, Heed, and so on). Whew. That’s uh…a lot of adventure games–and counting. I am sure I missed a few. In fact, I know it for certain; I am just too lazy to name ’em all. But the glory of being played next goes to Hector: Badge of Carnage, mostly because the tone and vulgar humor is the polar opposite of everything I’ve been playing recently, not counting Saints Row: The Third. It’s a refreshing if inappropriate breath of fresh air.

Originally, I began this post as a means to get some early impressions out, but  I didn’t finish writing it until today, and I went ahead and beat Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” over the weekend. So, yeah. This is now kind of a mix of impressions and final thoughts, with a magical haiku review to follow soon.

Hector: Badge of Carnage (Episode 1, “We Negotiate With Terrorists”) is, besides a really long title, a point-and-click adventure game set in the seedy spot of Clapper’s Wreake. A terrorist with a sniper rifle has locked himself up in some building and taken hostages, and it’s up to Detective Inspector Hector to fulfill the crazy man’s demands. And they are as so:

  • Fix the clock tower
  • Help tourism flourish
  • Close down the local porn shop

Actually, those aren’t terrible things to want from a place one might call home. I think we were all expecting something more akin to a boatload of money, a helicopter to escape on, and the promise of being set free. This terrorist is trying to make the world a better place; shame he keeps shooting cops in the face whenever they creep near. But anyways, off Hector goes to solve these many mysteries, and the answers aren’t too difficult to unravel so long as you remain open-minded and try everything. And I mean everything–giving a blind guy a doped-up homeless man as a sexual bribe is not as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not in this game.

If you do get stuck, Hector: Badge of Carnage features two hint systems, both of which are fantastic. One is Lambert, a fellow T.W.A.T. member, who you can ask questions at; the other is an actual hint menu, which can literally tell you what to do or be as vague as you’d like, with nudges in the right direction. I used both of these, and they really help to keep the player immersed in the game without feeling like one is cheating using a blatant walkthrough guide. I had particular trouble figuring out how to demolish the porn shop until the hint system showed me that I had missed doing something specific with an item I had picked up earlier on. Thanks, hint system. You saved me from getting frustrated and never coming back.

Besides the crude and sometimes confusing humor, the other aspect of Hector: Badge of Carnage that really appealed to me is its look. There’s a sharpness to the animation and art style, and the cutscenes are nicely put together. Reminds me of Penny Arcade, with bold lines and quirky character designs. As is always the case with point-and-click games, discovering a new screen or place to click around on is always a treat, and here it is no different. Upon finding the porn shop, I literally stared at the screen for a few minutes, soaking it all in, all the nasty visuals.

The only negative I can really throw at Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” is that it ends on the worst of worst cliffhangers. There is literally no conflict resolution after meeting the terrorist’s demands, which works for the episodic format, but bugs the bleep out of me. But I’m in for the long haul, and have already begun Episode 2 – “Senseless Acts of Justice”, which is going well so far and keeping up the tradition of toilet humor and toilets as plot devices. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

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