Reviewed: May 9, 2011
Released: April 27, 2011
Hector: Badge of Carnage is a hilarious new adventure game that kicks off Telltale's latest series. Hector is also a cynical, vulgar, frequently disgusting, and extremely British adventure game. If youíre fine with those later points, youíll have a fantastic experience in store with a few rough edges. In the first episode, Hector: Badge of Carnage #1 - We Negotiate with Terrorists, Detective Inspector Hector finds himself with a mission thrust upon him. A crazed gunman has holed up on a tall building with hostages and a sniper rifle, and unless his demands are met, those hostages arenít coming out. His demands, however, are strangely altruistic, every one of them bent on transforming the town, Clappers Wreake, from the crime capital of Great Britain into a decent place to live. Clearly, this cannot stand.|
The instant the game starts it sets the tone very clearly. The Tactical Weapons and Tactics vans, with (in)appropriate abbreviations leaves no mistake about what kind of game this is, and when control is given to the player, Hector happens to be pantsless. It only gets ruder from there. It would be easy to dismiss the comedy as being reliant entirely on shock value, but practically every one of them is carried out with a dry and clever execution that highlights what a terrible place Clappers Wreake is. The only potential issue for audiences that are ready for the subject matter is that because the game was written in and takes place in Britain, players may be a little confused when someone starts talking about an Asbo, a fry-up, or a cherry bakewell. Still, these can be understood in the context and are, if theyíre really confusing, can be easily looked up. They do a fantastic job of really holding up the setting, though.
Aesthetically, the game is a little rough around the edges, but has a good sense of style to it. Nothing stands out as particularly amazing, but the art direction is solid. The voice work is well-executed, and Hectorís belligerent and gravelly voice carries his selfishness and disgust with the world perfectly. There are a few places where the animation is done obviously cheaply, however. One thing to point out with the game is that unlike many adventure games that came out after the genreís recent revival, Hector steps away from the ďone click does everythingĒ control scheme. A single click makes Hector look at something or examine in. Double-clicking makes him talk, take, use, or otherwise interact with something. Itís a far cry from having a dedicated touch, taste, or smell action, but itís definitely a slight throwback.
The game does suffer from a few bothersome flaws. In one case, Hector started trying to solve a puzzle and started talking about specific requirements, and I had no idea why. It turns out that he was referring to stuff that, in my playthrough, he hadnít actually seen yet. The game also, for some reason, says you need to click and drag to move to an exit. I tried to do this a few times before I discovered that I could just double-click to go to a new place. Lastly, there are a few spots where, if you click on something you arenít supposed to, then the game freezes. These arenít obscure objects in the background either. A notable sign with an arrow pointing left in front of the police station causes one of these freezes. To go that direction, you arenít supposed to interact with the actual arrow.
In spite of this, though, Hector: Badge of Carnage is an enjoyable experience. This was developed by another studio and published by Telltale, so while it keeps Telltaleís signature episodic format, thereís no season pass that can be bought. Episode one costs $10, and if that pricing scheme holds true for the remaining two episodes, then there are a few concerns for how much gaming youíre getting out of your dollar compared to Telltaleís other offerings. If you can wait, it might be worth seeing if there will be any discount provided for buying episodes if you own the previous ones, or if there will be a discounted full series bundle once the third one launches. Whether you pick it up now or later, Hector: Badge of Carnage is still definitely a game worth picking up.