Star-Fired Beef

Steam Challenge – Hector: Badge of Carnage

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This is part of my Steam Challenge Series (the full list is here).

Time played: 8.5 hours

Well, well, well, wot ‘ave we ‘ere.

A point and click puzzle game, is what. I was expecting a good game, since Hector has the Telltale brand attached. It didn’t quite succeed for me, though. It’s an episodic game, in three parts, and the overall plot is fairly decent. Standard criminal case type of thing. The failures were in other areas.

The tone is very crude, gross and lowbrow in a very British way. There is a lot of black humour, but much of it relies on very exaggerated stereotyping. Or bodily fluids. Seriously, there are a LOT of bodily fluids involved with this game. Poop jokes are just the beginning. At first it’s entertaining, and the various British slang and curse words are a welcome change from an American-English dominated industry. But that is pretty much all there is to the humour. It’s all crude, disgusting and over the top. It wears you down over the course of the three episodes, especially the overly-wordy invectives that Hector loves to dish out pretty much every dialogue option you pick. You’re spending a lot of time in brothels, porn shops, butchers, septic tanks, and toilets, and it ends up just being too much.

The puzzle designs were very scattershot in quality. The inventory puzzles were pretty good, reasonably straightforward and intuitive. But the two other main puzzle types, environmental and dialogue, are all over the place. Some are clear and easy to figure out, but others – especially the dialogue ones – can be stupidly obtuse. Luckily, there is an excellent hint system in the game. I actually think it is the most well-executed part of the overall experience. There are three levels to it: first, Hector himself often comments on what he needs to do or have in order to continue. Then you can go and talk to his partner, Lambert, who will give you general hints about the larger goals. Finally the hint section itself gives you clues to specific puzzles, in gradually more spoiler-y fashion.

There were some glitches with the sound, which was rare but annoying. That leads me to the other major letdown: the voice acting. There were times when it felt like the same guy was doing all the voices, even old lady ones (Monty Python style), and each and every character in the game has an outrageously overblown accent. Again, it’s entertaining at first, because some British humour relies on the accent to deliver the punch, but it gets old after a while. Much sooner than I expected, to be honest.

I ended up not being able to finish the third episode. I just ran out of fucks to give. It wasn’t funny anymore, and the constant insult-ridden dialogue was becoming a chore to wade through. I’d recommend picking up the first episode if you can, to see if you like it. Even if you do, though, I definitely recommend a long break between episodes unless you love toilet humour. Also, as a PSA to my North American readers, be warned that there is an overwhelming amount of British slang and references in this game, so if you dislike not knowing wtf the characters are talking about, and can’t be arsed looking it up, then it’s probably best to avoid Hector.

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