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Ever since I finished the iOS version of Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 1 back when it was a brand new release, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the story of the crude but amusing Inspector Hector. While the PC re-release of the game was certainty good, it’s only intensified my desire to play the next episode in the series and now that desire has finally been sated by the release of Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 2 - Senseless Acts of Justice.
This installment in the series plays pretty much the same as the first, and without spoiling too much, the last game ended on a cliffhanger that could have played out a number of different ways and Episode 2 picks up immediately where the last game left off: with Hector escaping from mortal peril. This opening sequence works much better than the first game's opening puzzle. Once the loose ends from the previous game have been tied up, it’s up to you to control Hector as he hunts down the enigmatic villain of the first game.
Episode 2 introduces a slew of new characters that further flesh out the world. Among them is Solid Bass, the IT guy at the Clappers Wreake Police Department, and Gloria the Clappers Wreake forensics scientist. Solid Bass is quite a fun character to watch interact with Hector due to his funny dialogue that pokes fun at depictions of hacking in crime shows. The first game had some colorful characters and it’s a shame most of them don’t make a return in Episode 2, but in return you get a fair amount of even crazier characters.
In the first game, you navigated your way around Clappers Wreake with a crude map. In Senseless Acts of Justice, you do so using Hector's new fandangled GPS. There are also more locations for you to visit than in the first episode as well as some areas from the previous game that you end up revisiting. The structure is very similar to the first episode, with Hector going through a short linear sequence before encountering three separate plot threads he has to resolve. However, Senseless Acts of Justice is definitely longer than the first episode and features much more of an ending than the single cutscene that constituted the conclusion of the first episode.
The puzzles in Senseless Acts of Justice are about on par with those in the Episode 1. There is a lot more variety, and a lot less of the ridiculous and illogical puzzles, which were an unfortunate part of Episode 1. The game also makes greater use of the simplistic crafting mechanics that were underused in the first game and this is good to see. A lot of the humor ties into the puzzles, and there are more hints at solutions to puzzles than there were in the last installment.
The help system has been improved. In the first game, you could find solutions within an in-game menu rather than an online walkthrough and some of the explanations are so fun to read that it’s worth going to read them even if you know what you’re doing. Strandlooper and Telltale have improved this system by allowing Hector to talk with Lambert who can give some good clues that can help you work out what you’re meant to be doing if you get stuck.
The first Hector game went to some pretty crude areas for humor and I can safety say that Senseless Acts of Justice has it topped in this regard, with Hector encountering a Church themed strip-club, a dual gun store/ beauty salon and a delivery boy obsessed with becoming the next big viral hit. While I enjoyed the humor in Hector, I can understand why some gamers might not like it.
One interesting feature that Episode 2 has that didn't appear in the previous episode is the ability to play as other characters. In Episode 2, a certain sequence forces you to take control of Hector’s sidekick from the first game, Lambert. This works quite well and leads to some interesting sequences in which you have to switch between characters and trade items between them in order to solve puzzles. It’s unfortunately a bit underused though, and I would have liked to have more puzzles that used the feature.
I noticed that while the music in Senseless Acts of Justice is more varied than in the first episode, sometimes it doesn’t quite fit the tone as well. Some of the animations in Senseless Acts of Justice also seem a bit clunkier than the last game which is a shame since the art style and general look of Hector is cool and unique. There were also some audio and video quality issues with the cutscenes in the first Episode that have thankfully been completely fixed in Episode 2.
Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode 2 - Senseless Acts of Justice is more developed and polished than Episode 1. The writing is good and the plot is funny, the new characters and locales freshen up the setting, and although it’s still short in comparison to Telltale's other franchises, it's definitely longer than Episode 1. Overall, it’s a good installment in the series, but if the first episode didn’t grab you, it’s unlikely that this one will.