Let me make this perfectly clear from the outset: I am not a prude in any way. I swear at things all the time, usually inanimate things and cats, for my life is full of both right now and neither doing anything to make my existence easier. I do not, however, consider my swearing to be funny in and of itself. It takes a skilful use of language to make curse words funny and, in that regard, I’m not quite sure whether Hector: Badge of Carnage manages it.
On the face of it, Hector is a classic point and click adventure game, with a 2D hero picking up random items, sticking them together to make ridiculous new items, and using these new items on things for reward. I love these games, though I couldn’t really explain why, and Hector manages to get the foundations down perfectly. The puzzles are eccentric, but rarely obtuse, and when you do get stuck there is the handy hints option to get you free. That is, if you can decipher the raging insults it throws at you for cheating.
The game’s big selling point is the crude nature of its humour. Everywhere I’ve seen write about this game has referred to it as having “very British humour” which somewhat annoys me. British humour is more than just being crude for crude’s sake. Hector gets off to a bad start by being very lazy in its jokes at the start, simple shock value for all the nasty horrible swears and a wee bit of violence and general vileness. Thankfully, however, it starts to pick up speed as you get further into it.
It is still a bit touch and go at times, but for the most part it manages to fend off the “look at me, I’m so edgy” attitude that I was expecting it to have, and it actually serves to build a cohesive and coherent world. The police force is borderline incompetent, there are prostitutes and drunks and chavs everywhere, and yet somehow this doesn’t quite feel like a cliché. There are little things in there that hint at bigger designs at work, that Hector himself is just trapped in a run-down section of the country ignored by the higher-ups. He’s making the best of an appalling situation, and despite his foul nature there is a decent copper in there somewhere.
It’s nice to see Telltale taking a risk from time to time, in any event. They’ve become heavily associated with 3D, family friendly releases, and it’s nice to see them stick their neck out for an old school 2D game. And make no mistake, it is an experiment, it is not going to be to everyone’s tastes. It’s lewd, crude and occasionally vile, but if you’re the sort of person who isn’t offended by that sort of thing you may just enjoy yourself. If you can’t be dealing with people dropping F-bombs or little things like the Tactical Weapons And Tactics squad, perhaps you’ll want to give it a miss.
It’s not big and it’s not clever, but Hector: Badge of Carnage isn’t too bad either.
MLG Rating: 7/10
Platform: PC/Mac/iPad Release Date: 27/04/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a digital copy of Hector: Badge of Carnage episode 1 for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.