Hector: Badge of Carnage

Hector: Badge of Carnage is the latest IP from Telltale Games, a company that has become synonymous with the renaissance of the point and click adventure genre following its episodic releases of Tales of Monkey Island. Developed by Northern Irish animation studio Straandlooper, Hector deviates from Telltale’s normal friendly, cartoony 3D aesthetic, offering instead caricatured 2D drawings and grimy painted backdrops. But it’s not only in looks that the game differs from the company’s growing portfolio, but in tone. Like Nelson Tether’s Puzzle Agent, which followed a case conducted by the FBI’s little known puzzle research division in a dark parody of the Professor Layton games, Hector sees the company moving away from the updates and adaptations (albeit inspired ones) on which it has made its name into fresh and somewhat edgier territory.

Hector is the game’s eponymous hero; an over-weight cop called by some ‘the fat arse of the law’ (though not to his face) who lives in a cell at the station. When not drinking himself into a stupor, chugging on a cigarette or sardonically commenting on his surroundings in a thick accent or calling people ‘turd nuggets’, he can be found attempting the impossible task of cleaning up the fictitious town of Clapper’s Wreak – ‘the steaming log in the cistern of the Midlands’. But it seems he’s not trying hard enough for some people, so in ‘Episode 1: We Negotiate with Terrorists’ an oddly altruistic gunman has taken hostages in an attempt to force the police in to improving the town. Hector, who is about as far removed from being a people person as it’s possible to get, is put on negotiation duties by his plumy knighthood hungry commissioner and hilarity ensues, all in the worst possible taste.

Of course Telltale already has its share of incompetent investigators, mainly in the form of the ribald surrealism of Sam and Max (now in its third brilliant season), but although Hector largely follows the tried and tested traditions of the genre, it’s not in many point and click adventures that you get a combo like ‘use sex-pest on old lady’. Hector is certainly not for the faint of heart; within the first few minutes of the game you’ve fished a paper clip out of a toilet brimming with human filth using only a condom on the end of a piece of string, stolen the trousers off a mouthy chav handcuffed in the police station lobby and witnessed an overweight prostitute plying her trade in a back alley. Every action is executed with a wry, perverse and completely pitch black sense of humour that sometimes rises to the level of Chris Morris’ inspired satire Four Lions.

It’s initially easy to dismiss the game as breezy nonsense – an over done parody of British social problems – but underneath all of the crude edges are some pretty smart puzzles that are approached in some refreshingly acerbic and sordid ways: for instance using a box of returned vibrators as a makeshift bomb to destroy the local sex shop, or passing off a stoned heroin addict as a sex doll to a blind pervert.


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