The coarse, but amiable Detective Inspector Hector is back in the second episode of Straandlooper’s planned trilogy of adventure games. HECTOR Episode 2: Senseless Acts of Justice picks up exactly where the first episode left off. You are presented with a brief tutorial and then you are off and running. I don’t want to say much more than that as not to spoil the game for those of you who haven’t played Episode One yet.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, it is an adventure game akin to great point-and-click Sierra Online games like the Leisure Suit Larry and Police Quest series that you probably played as a kid, albeit with a heavy British influence. You are Detective Inspector Hector, tasked with trying to discover the identity of a hostage taker and murderer responsible for holding your colorful town of Clappers Wreake under siege. By discovering and visiting new locations about town, and collecting, combining and using a variety of items, you are able to progress through the acts of the game, eventually reaching the climax. Episode 2 ends on a great cliff hanger, setting things up nicely for the final episode of the trilogy (which I believe is being released on September 22nd).
This second go around, there a loads of new offbeat and unusual townsfolk, from bloody butchers to techies, hook wearing orphans to pole-dancing nuns! We also get to see a lot more of Hector’s fellow officer Lambert and there is a fantastic new co-operative gameplay element where you must use these characters together to complete one of the game’s acts. In fact, I’d say that this was probably my favorite sequence of Episode 2 as Lambert is hilarious in a fragile and self-effacing way.
One aspect that I particularly liked about the first episode is that the guys at Straandlooper didn’t hold anything back, they made the game they wanted to and didn’t worry about offending anyone, they just took shots at everyone. They also treated their players like they had brains and didn’t spoon feed them everything. You are given a crumb and you need to do some leg work and travel between locations talking to people to trigger certain conversations and pick up certain items to progress through the game…like a real detective. Once again, there is an optional progressive hint system in the game that can help kick start your synapses if your having a bit of trouble or outright tell you how to do something if you are completely lost. Straandlooper partnered with publisher Telltale Games for both this episode and the forthcoming third episode and it’s a perfect fit. Episode 2 is just as lewd, crude, intelligent, unapologetic and undeniably British as its predecessor.
It seems like this go-around there were definitely more “British” references that went over my BBC America-loving head, but that’s not to say there wasn’t still loads of funny stuff for us Yanks. This game has some of the funniest dialog and I highly recommend that you take your time playing through the game and listening to/reading as much of it as possible. There is a sequence in the earlier part of the game that nearly had me in tears as I was literally laughing out loud as it played out. There are also a few instances where the characters break the fourth wall and reference the game itself which I thought was absolutely brilliant.
I played the first episode on my iPhone, so this was my first chance to play a Hector title on my iPad and the graphics look fantastic. The voice work is top-notch and creates a really engaging experience, almost like you are interacting with a cartoon series. There were a few instances where the “talking” animations went on a bit longer than the actual audio, but for the most part things looked very smooth. The controls were simple, the only issue I had was that a number of times when I tried to exit a location I wouldn’t double-tap low enough on the door or exit and it would look at the exit instead of actually “using” it. Otherwise, it was easy to get around and do what I needed to.
At the risk of sounding a bit dirty, HECTOR Episode 2: Senseless Acts of Justice is both longer and harder than its predecessor. Really my only complaint with the first game was that it was just too short. For me, Hector 2 clocked in at roughly 5 to 6 hours, which is about two times (or more) what it took me to complete the first one. If you are NOT someone who’s easily offended by the thought of a pole-dancing nun, a butcher who may be selling more than just animal meat or British colloquialisms, then HECTOR Episode 2: Senseless Acts of Justice is a brilliantly funny, intelligent and challenging adventure game and I highly recommend picking it up. It is available for $4.99 for the iPhone/iPod Touch and $6.99 for the iPad.