Regular readers of the site know that we’ve been running Hector: Badge of Carnage through its paces. Episode one and two have come and gone. Unlike most of its Telltale brethren, rather than requiring five episodes to tell the tale, Hector does it in three. So let’s see how this whole thing turns out.
There isn’t much to say about the graphics in episode 3 that hasn’t been said about the first two. Technically, most of the people and places in this episode have been seen before. The city park, the clock tower, etc. They have all been vastly changed by the events of the game so far. Your “repair” of the clock seems to be holding up, and the park is in the midst of a carnival, for instance. There are some new areas, including a laboratory, a farm, and in perfect keeping with the personality of the game, a septic tank. Everything maintains the same level of quality set by the first two episodes, but… well, let’s just say that some things didn’t need to be quite as detailed as they were.
Like the graphics, there isn’t much to say about the gameplay of Hector 3 that hasn’t been said before. There is Hector/Lambert tag teaming once again, allowing you to utilize their individual skills to their utmost. The fact that one is fat and one is skinny, in accordance with video game logic, is used to split them up when one goes where the other can’t, but there are lesser skills that other games might have overlooked. Naivete and weakness, for instance.
This was the first game that I had to resort to their actual hint system, and it reveals one of the aspects of the game that I found a bit irritating. Certain puzzles cannot be solved until you’ve tried and failed at something you knew wouldn’t work. One puzzle requires you to enter someone in a contest. Without giving away too much, you need to both prepare them to compete and give them the appropriate uniform. Knowing that I didn’t have the equipment sorted out, I wandered around looking for a way to get it before I tried to enter the contest. It turns out that attempting to enter without the equipment caused the game to trigger an event that would move things forward, despite the fact that there was no indication that this would occur, or even a connection between what you did and what it caused. Fortunately the hint system, even when you abandon Lambert’s sage advice, comes in two levels of intensity. It suggests very strongly what the right answer might be, then flat out tells you, step by step, what to do. It gets you through the rough patches.
As before, the voice work is extremely good, particularly considering the small number of actors and large number of characters. This game, for whatever reason, was the first one in which the music really stood out to me. As you progress toward the climax, the score becomes positively cinematic, and quite well done.
Whatever the strengths of the other episodes, the story never really struck me as particularly good. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t worth boasting about. That changes in this chapter. It isn’t Oscar worthy, but there are elements of the plot that, of you’ve paid attention, grew from seeds planted in the first episode. Minor recurring props turn out to be key. Seemingly pointless busy quests had ulterior motivations. Even the name of the game comes into play. From an opening puzzle reminiscent of Saw, you steadily learn that your every action has been playing carefully into the plans of the villain. I was impressed.
With the exception of a few puzzles that didn’t click with me, Hector: Badge of Carnage definitely managed to end on a high note.
8.4 / 10: A satisfying conclusion to an old school adventure game series.