A while back, we got our hands on the first episode of Hector: Badge of Carnage from Telltale games. That game concluded with a fairly severe cliff hanger, so it was our hope that we would see the next episode before too long. Well, that time has finally come. Read on to see what we think of this latest entry into the Hector saga.
Easily one of the greatest strengths of the Hector series, the graphics in Hector Episode 2 manage to meet and beat the high expectations set by the previous game. As before, characters and interactive objects are rendered in traditional, cel-style animation, while backgrounds are produced with higher detail, just like cartoons. The characters, major and minor alike, are all entirely unique, and well crafted. There isn’t anything resembling lip-synch, opting instead for semi-random lip-flapping while a character is speaking. If it was good enough for the Lucas Arts games, it is darn well good enough for Hector. The other animation is likewise limited, at least slightly. Main characters like Hector and Lambert actually have an impressive repertoire of animated actions available to them, though from time to time a not-quite-appropriate animation will be called into service.
Surprisingly, there was very little in the way of reused settings, at least partially because, thanks to the events of the story, several of the previously used settings aren’t there anymore. You’ll see the interior of the snootiest carnivore buffet ever, a combination gun-shop beauty parlor, and a highly disturbing butcher shop, to name just a few. After the major plot events, you will also be treated to a full motion animated cut scene. All told, there is plenty to look at.
Hector is a once again a classic point and click adventure game, allowing you to do all of the standard adventure game tasks. Items and pieces of the environment can be investigated, collected, combined, and operated. When you encounter other characters, you’ll be able to interact with them by selecting conversation topics and replies. When things get too difficult, a quick word with your assistant Lambert will guide you in the correct direction, and if that isn’t enough, there is a more explicit hint system. I was actually very impressed with how effective Lambert’s idiotic yet almost correct suggestions were at directing you toward the solution to a given puzzle. Early in the game, Hector takes a page out of the Day of the Tentacle playbook by letting you control both the title character and his assistant in a tag team fashion. After a solving a few puzzles separately, you’ll be able to pass items between them as well. As you solve puzzles, the settings change, with new characters showing up, or old ones moving on to new activities that offer different opportunities to progress.
Absolutely everything is done with the mouse and, for that matter, just one mouse button. Generally, this works well. Navigation is done by clicking, moving from one screen to another is done by selecting the setting from a map or choosing the indicated exit. I did have a little trouble with the fact that clicking once always simply investigates. If you want to actually collect or operate something, you’ll need to double click. The number of times I spent a half hour stuck on a puzzle simply because I couldn’t remember I needed to double click something is a bit embarrassing. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that double clicking on something that isn’t interactive simply observes it again. When double clicking some objects doesn’t do anything new, but double clicking other objects does, my brain starts to disregard the double click as a valid strategy.
According to the credits, there are but two voice actors in the whole of this game. Having played it from beginning to end, I must say that I am impressed with their skill. Character voices vary widely, often to caricature levels. This fits perfectly with the theme of the game, though, so anything less would be out of place. As a game set and developed in the UK, Hector showcases accents and variations thereof that I frankly found fascinating. (I’m sort of a connoisseur of accents. Don’t judge.) Further interesting was the fact that many times there isn’t one but several quips to be made regarding a subject in conversation or an item on the level. Thus, there are tons of lines to hear from each and every character. This is good if you are a fan of the comedy in the game, and bad if you are not. The gags can get a bit abrasive at times, so if you aren’t willing to cope with a little black comedy and gross out humor, this game may not be for you. The music is less notable than the dialog, but it still does its job well.
When last we left Hector, he had just finished negotiating with a terrorist who was holding hostages and shooting police officers in the face. After fulfilling all of his demands, Hector brought a pizza as food for the hostages, and found himself face to face with a sniper rifle and no perpetrator. After a harrowing and death defying escape, this game allows Hector to actually flex his sleuthing skills, collecting evidence and following leads to track down the man responsible for the slaughter of his brother officers. There was actually a surprising amount of continuity, considering the tone of the game. You’ll encounter the other half of a “thing” hand off that you’d posed as in the previous game. Likewise, you’ll meet some of the few surviving members of your police department. Most surprising of all, you’ll actually get to meet some people that actually get along with the standoffish main character. Granted, the story is essentially a delivery vessel for crude jokes, but all things considered, is actually pretty good.
If you’ve got a good sense of humor, Hector will provide you with a few hours of classic adventure game enjoyment.
8.3 / 10: A well made adventure game with crude but entertaining humor.