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The adventure game market has gone from on its deathbed to putting out more titles than ever before in a matter of years and you could probably credit Telltale games for this. They’ve revived classic adventure gaming franchises like Sam & Max and the Monkey Island series, and to this day are one of the few games developers who have mastered the episodic content model (Glares at Valve). However, Telltale aren’t the only ones making adventure games now, Jane Jensen returned to the genre with the recent Gray Matter and last year Strandlooper entered the adventure game market with Hector: Badge of Carnage for the iPhone, Strandlooper have since teamed up with Telltale to bring the twisted and hilarious world of Hector to PC and Mac.
Hector: Badge of Carnage “We Negotiate With Terrorists” is the first in the episodic adventure game series which follows the titular Detective, Inspector Hector, as he races to meet the demands of a terrorist who is holding several hostages. Rather than demand large amounts of money with the hostages, this terrorist wants Hector to go about fixing up the setting of the game, Clappers Wreake, which has become a pit of crime and corruption.
The controls are fairly easy to understand which is expected since Hector is an adventure game. You tap once to look at an object, tap twice to use an object on the screen, then collect and combine items to create various twisted solutions to puzzles and problems that Hector faces when he tries to complete the tasks that the mysterious terrorist has given him.
One mechanical problem that Hector has as a game is that early on, is that it introduces the idea of using items with themselves in order to create a new item, for example taking apart a shoe for the shoelace. This is a cool idea and not something usually seen in adventure games as far as I’m aware, the problem is that as far I can remember its not used in anything past the tutorial.
The world of Clappers Wreake could be described as a very unique setting for an adventure game. It is known as the town that took the ‘Great’ out of Britain and despite this, a lot of effort has gone into filling Clappers Wreake with little touches which give the town an almost post-apocalyptic feel.
The denizens of Clappers Wreake are also quite original and funny to interact with. From the teenagers who speak solely in text-speak to the war hero who lives inside the Clappers Wreake clock tower, every citizen of the town brings something new to the table and throughout all the adventure games I’ve played, I don’t think there has ever been a more varied cast of characters.
The humor that you find in Hector is very british and laced with a fine cynicism. It also separates itself from Telltale's adventure games through its approach of drugs and sexual content. I think the best way to describe it is that Hector is to Sam&Max as Family Guy is to The Simpsons. It just brings in more humor with its subject matter and setting but on the flipside is sometimes more crude when it comes to a few of the gags. There’s also a few pop culture references that have been insidiously planted into Hector which gamers should find quite funny such as a sequence where Hector puts on some shades and delivers a one-liner that could be straight out of CSI.
The puzzles in Hector can be quite hard at times, this is due to the complete absurdity of some of the solutions. A key example that comes to mind is a sequence in which you pick the lock of a door using a dirty syringe. While seemingly illogical puzzles like this do occasionally rear their head, for the most part Hector gives you enough visual and dialogue hints to allow you to work out the puzzles on your own.
The art style really helps bring the world of Hector to life and is actually somewhat similar to animated TV shows like Family Guy. While the animation can seem stilted at times, for the most part it's solid and is somewhat key in that TV show feel that Hector can sometimes give. The soundtrack is never outstanding but is always suited for what is happening on screen and in specific sequences really drags you into the events that play out on screen.
Although Hector is a bit on the short side due to it being originally developed for iPhone gamers, its well worth checking out and stands out amongst the rest of the Telltale Library. Adventure gamers looking for something different and more British should definitely check this out and with the next two episodes of Hector: Badge of Carnage on the way, it will be very interesting to see where the series goes.
Hector: Badge of Carnage “Episode One- We Negotiate With Terrorists” is out on PC and Mac today.