Hector: Badge of Carnage. Episode 2 ‘Senseless Acts of Justice’

‘Senseless Acts of Justice’ is the second episode of Telltale Games’ darkly alternative point and click adventure Hector: Badge of Carnage, set in the tawdry underbelly of British culture. Quite why a studio based in California should show interest in a creation by Northern Irish animation studio Straandlooper, whose humour most non-Brits would struggle to comprehend, is anyone’s guess, but we should be thankful they have. Telltale Games can give this gem of a series the exposure it deserves, adding a fresh take on the point and click adventure in the process; a take that is drenched in sardonic British wit and satire.

Hector, a fat and cynical cop in the grim Midland town of Clappers Wreak, is the antithesis of George Stobbart of the Broken Sword Series and could even give the sleazy Gabriel Knight a few lessons in innuendo. When we left him in episode one – pithily entitled, ‘We Negotiate with Terrorists’ – he was trapped in a room armed with nothing but a pizza box and facing a sniper rifle with face recognition software wired to a laptop. His only lead as to the identity of the benevolent terrorist tormenting the town is that it is someone who has access to the internet… that certainly narrows it down (Ipswich is out for a start). But first things first he has to escape certain death and so the game’s tutorial begins in earnest, instructing you how to interact with the environment by getting Hector to throw his last slice of pizza at the wall prompting him to protest. It’s the first of many pieces of self reflexive humour that has become the norm in the modern point and click adventure, but it fits Hector’s peculiar brand of lazy cynicism brilliantly.

The trail of the terrorist sees Hector attempting to gain access to Clappers Wreak’s take on haute cuisine Chez la Boeufet, visiting Doreen’s nail bar and army surplus, black mailing a footballer by photographing him in a brothel, and finally pursuing a chavy meat-on-demand truck driver with a side line in Jackass style viral videos. He is aided in his escapades by the female head of forensics, who has the corpses of the 37 TWAT officers (shot during episode one) to work through before Corrie comes on; the station’s sarcastic tech guy, who is a level 60 wyvern on his off days, and of course Hector’s half-wit partner Lambert, whose particular brand of insight provides the game with its brilliantly insulting in game hint system and walkthrough.

As can be expected from an episodic game not a lot has really changed by way of presentation from episode one, so general observations in our first review still stand: the game maintains its grimy aesthetic and equally sordid world view, its topical references to things like Wiki-leaks, its acerbic puzzles and characters with thick Scouser accents. Of course it’s not got the fresh impact the first episode had, but then that’s to be expected, but by and large it maintains the standard laid out there humour and has some pretty enjoyable gross-out puzzles, although nothing quite on the scale of jumpstarting your car with an electrocuted chav. The only real gameplay deviation is early on in the episode when you get to take control of Lambert as he helps Hector escape a building by constructing a bomb out of a toilet, passing inventory items back and forth through a duct, which is a nice touch and brings to mind recent point and clicks such as Lost Horizon and the remake of Broken Sword, which see you gaining two different perspectives on the situation by switching between characters.







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