Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 review
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It's rude; it's crude; but my god, is it good - we salute you Hector...
While the genre’s heyday may have been in the early 1990s, the point and click adventure has gone through something of a renaissance as of late, with Telltale Games playing a large part in this.
New, episodic additions to classic Monkey Island and the Sam & Max series - plus new titles based on well loved franchises including Wallace & Gromit and Back to the Future - have brought point and click games out of the dark and to the attention of new, modern audiences. Unfortunately, as is often the case with revivals and remakes, a number of these new adaptations have missed out on the old school feel, the traditional concept of the point and click. Thankfully, the 2D graphics of Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists bring the 1990s back with a bang; in this hilarious PC title from Irish studio Straandlooper that’s definitely not for the easily offended…
For the uninitiated, a point and click game does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s an game in which the protagonist is directed around the screen, examines items – stealing a few on the way – and chats to non-playing characters (NPC's) thanks to the input of a mouse. Well, a mouse is optional nowadays with a number of these titles now available on phones. Modern technology ay?
The focus of these games tends to be based around solving puzzles, with most of the old greats also featuring a fair share of humour. The decisive landmark of the point and click genre was none other than Monkey Island, produced by LucasArts and Telltale Games, and proved once and for all that a game need neither the most groundbreaking of graphics or seemingly endless online play to be a success.
Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1 not only brings with it a massive slice of nostalgia that will excite fans of the old classics, but also a wicked - and extremely crude - sense of humour that provides a lot of laughs. I can't say for sure, but I'm sure Guybrush Threepwood (Monkey Island protagonist) would approve.
Like all point and click adventure games, the crux of Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1 is based on solving puzzles through the discovery and combination of items. Moreover, like a number of games in the genre, the puzzles can be a little obtuse, but a handy hint system can guide any players that get stuck through their problems; plus let's face it - is there anything more satisfying than finally acing that tedious and utterly frustrating puzzle? I think not...
While there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from solving the in-game puzzles, it’s the dialogue and voice acting in Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1 that really make it; it’s lewd, crude and bloody hilarious! The voice-work is even more impressive when you realise it’s all done by one person.
Hector: Badge of Carnage is (unsurprisingly) based around Detective Inspector Hector; an angry, sarcastic, foul mouthed, corrupt and alcoholic copper in the grim Midlands town of Clapper’s Wreake. Yes, it’s as if Gene Hunt has been lifted from Ashes to Ashes and dumped in a point and click adventure...this obviously is a very, very good thing.
As un-PC as they get, Hector is charged with fulfilling the demands of a terrorist that’s been killing off Clapper’s Wreake’s police force; and with his can-do attitude (really?), it's certainly an interesting adventure. As a brief summary, the terrorists demands are: repair the Clappes’s Wreake clock tower; help an overly optimistic tourist information clerk and shut down the town’s porn industry.
Naturally, the seedy nature of Hector and Clapper’s Wreake means you won’t be finding any ‘use the water with the bucket puzzles’ here. Items required to solve conundrums include a used condom, a sex doll, a wig, and....lube. In order to progress through the game, you’ll have to take your mind into dark places and think like Hector, so don't say you weren't warned.
Given the variety of sickly items needed to solve puzzles, Hector: Badge of Carnage is definitely not one for the kids! While the main portion of the game only takes place in four different areas, they’re varied enough to keep interest despite the regular - and occasionally frustrating - need to move back and forth between them as you gather all items needed in order to solve the puzzles.
As the game is based around just a handful of locations – including a gentleman’s choice literature store - in the run down Midlands town, Hector: Badge of Carnage could technically be rushed through and completed in the space of two or three hours. However, speeding through the game as quickly as possible would mean missing out on so, so much hilarious dialogue; therefore ruling the game obsolete, and this would be a damn shame.
The foul mouthed Hector has plenty of rude one liners, descriptions of items and conversations with NPC's which are often laugh out loud funny. One that particularly stands out is a “That’s the second biggest garter I’ve ever seen” homage to Monkey Island. What Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1 lacks in length, it more than makes up in dialogue and a range of wacky, often perverse characters. It may be crude, but it’s fantastic.
Given the episode nature of this new series, Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 - perhaps unsurprisingly - ends with a cliff hanger, and we’ll need to wait until autumn to find out what happens! This cliff hanger ending and the short length of Hector: Badge of Carnage - Episode 1 means that £8.75 for the PC version of the game may feel somewhat pricey, but it’s easy to replay it multiple times for the jokes.
A game that was originally designed for the iPhone, Hector: Badge of Carnage- Episode 1 isn’t going to win any awards for graphical prowess. However, it doesn’t look bad at all, with an animation style that’d easily translate to a decent TV cartoon. This cartoonish nature of the game also helps add to the humour with stereotyped characters – disaffected youths, prostitutes and porn shop clientele to name but a few – only adding to the laughs. Furthermore, it also provides mild relief from the occasionally very dark humour of Hector: Badge of Carnage. Using a heroin addict for a sex doll anyone?
Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists really does capture the spirit of the point and click adventure games of old; it’s a must for anyone who’s a fan of the genre. While the crude humour may not be for everyone – it’s not a game for kids, or the easily offended – its laugh out loud funny for most of its short playtime and deserves significant credit for this. The cliff hanger ending and somewhat high price may cause frustration, but Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 1 really does lay great foundations for what could become a classic point and click adventure series.
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