Hector: He’ll Negotiate With Terrorists!
Hector: Badge of Carnage is one of the latest adventure game series that Telltale has picked up for publishing on the PC. Originally built as an iOS application it has been brought over to the PC to join the rest of the Telltale Games catalogue and attempt to revitalize the adventure game genre once so prosperous on the PC. It is a witty, vulgar, sometimes sophomoric view at a world gone wrong held together by a police officer who would rather have a drink down at the pub than solve crime all day.
The setup for Hector is pretty simple, a terrorist has taken hostages inside a building and is shooting any officers who won’t negotiate with him. Enter Hector, the only man on the force willing to simply do what the terrorist wants if it means he can take the rest of the afternoon off. The twist is that the demands the terrorist make are three ways in which the town can be cleaned up and elevated out of the cesspool it has become. Hector reluctantly goes about accomplishing these tasks and this becomes the plot of adventure.
Because Hector is a comedy adventure game there are some very clever puzzles and dialogue in the game. Particularly a puzzle involving a room full of potentially deadly lasers turns out to be a witty and smart play on the adventure genre as a whole. However, since the world these characters inhabit is built on vulgarity and slapstick many of the puzzle solutions aren’t generally dictated by logical outcomes. Because of this you may find yourself guessing at solutions rather than logically stepping through them. Though with its limited environments and small inventory throughout the game you can usually try all combinations of possibilities in a short period of time to keep the game moving. If you are really stuck you can speak with Hector’s partner Lambert for clues, and the PC version has a fully built-in hint system, though it will insult you heavily for using it.
Because it was built originally as a portable game the technical aspects of Hector are somewhat lacking. The animation of the game is really well done, characters and environments are very interesting to look at and their movements translate very well. The quality of animation is top-notch, looking along the lines of an Adult Swim produced cartoon series (A place that Hector would probably feel right at home). The sound however doesn’t fare as well. Most of the voiced dialogue sounds like it was recorded inside a tin can with heavy echo effects coming off of every character. The writing in Hector is hit or miss as well. While I thought there were some genuinely witty and funny lines most of the comedy comes off as far more vulgar than it needed to be. Rather than taking a smarter cynical approach to its world, Hector attempts to shock and awe you with every joke it makes. Sometimes this works, but over the course of the 5 hours or so it will take to finish the game the crude jokes start to wear thin.
I think Hector has a lot of promise. As an iOS app it is actually quite impressive for what it accomplishes. It is an adequate adventure title that is only really held back by the over the top crudeness of its humor. While it doesn’t measure up to the quality of Sam & Max, a more sophisticated look at the comedy crime adventure genre it does hold its own appeal. The game is only the first in a series of Hector games which will continue to be published by Telltale for the PC and Mac. I like the idea of the Hector character, and think they can take the series to some interesting places. If you’re looking for another good adventure game Hector is definitely worth a look, just be warned that it may disgust you more than it amuses you.