Hector: Badge of Carnage Episode One is the first (in hopefully many) point-and-tap adventure games by Straandlooper Animation. The story unfolds in the rundown town of Clappers Wreake where corrupt police, prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics have pretty much become the norm. You, Detective Inspector Hector, an alcoholic still recovering from his last bender, are put in charge of diffusing a bloody hostage crisis which has broken out in the center of town. With the bodycount on the rise, you must use your non-existent diplomatic skills to put an end to the bloodshed. You are quite literally Clappers Wreake’s last choice..err hope…as every other negotiator has been killed by the hostage taker. You’ve been given your list of demands, now you must find a way to meet these terms and save the hostages.
If you haven’t already surmised from the picturesque image of Clapper Wreake that I painted above, this game is definitely not for children. It’s gritty, funny and immature and brought back fond memories of a youth (mis)spent playing a lot of PC adventure games during the glory days of Sierra. If you’ve ever played a Sierra point and click adventure game during the mid-to-late 80’s, then you’ll have a good sense for what this game is like. For fellow Sierra-heads it’s the perfect blend of the irreverence and innuendo of the Leisure Suit Larry series and the grittiness of the Police Quest series, with loads of British humor.
The game starts out with you locked in a holding cell in which you must figure a way out. With limited clues at your disposal, you must use your brain (egads) and figure out just what the heck you are supposed to do. Simply tap on objects to look at them, double-tap to pick up or use an object or to talk to an individual or slide your finger on the screen to move around or exit a location. You can pick up loads of seemingly nonsensical items and even combine these items in your inventory by dragging them on top of one another to create new items. Then you just need to try to figure out if/when best to use them. The key to figuring things out is by talking (and talking) to various members of the town, methodically working your way through a series of witty multiple choice responses. This a very common gameplay mechanic in this genre of game and one that may drive people who are not fans of this style of game NUTS! Fortunately the dialog is absolutely hilarious! I’m not British so I’m sure some percentage of the humor was lost on me, but this was some of the funniest dialog I’ve read in any iPhone game to date (you’ll get a taste of it if you watch the trailer below).
Just remember, Hector plays by his own set of rules, he’s got the attitude of a Jason Stathem character and the physique of Peter Griffin, so try anything and everything you want to, no matter how absurd it may seem. In a game where the developers list the features as: 18 sordid, filthy, rundown locations, 23 well-developed & witty characters (+ 1 stinking drunk), 40 Inventory items (includes Free Lubricant!)” and that you’ll get to “hit a tramp with a crowbar, steal a young man’s trousers, kick a heroin addict into a cardboard box, enter a porn shop without embarrassment, carry a designer handbag”, you know you are in for one heck of a ride!
Hector : Badge of Carnage didn’t take long to complete, only about 2-3 hours playing all the way through, watching all of the cutscenes and reading all the dialog. This type of game encourages players to use their brains and creativity. The developers had sent me a full walk-through for the game, which I’m happy to report I didn’t even peak at once. Part of the fun of this game is working (sometimes hard) to figure out what to do. There is nothing better than one of those AHA! moments when something finally dawns on you and you figure out how to solve one of the game’s puzzles. I encourage anyone buying this game to not take the easy way out, spend the time and embrace the frustration…it will pass. Should you get well and truly stuck to the point of madness and severe frustration in which the safety of your iPhone is in jeopardy, then simply revisit the hostage scene and talk to your partner Lambert for a hint.
Graced with simple, intuitive controls, fantastic animation and loads of witty on-liners, Hector : Badge of Cargnage was definitely some of the best 2-3 hours I’ve spent on my iPod in some time. It made me recall just how much fun I had as a 12 or 13 year-old kid playing through each and every Sierra point and click adventure I could get my hands on. It’s unfortunate that this seems to be a largely overlooked genre on the platform, so I am very happy that Straandlooper has done such an AMAZING job rejuvenating it. I certainly hope that we see episode 2. Normally I would balk at paying $3.99 for a game with only about 2-3 hours of gameplay and rather limited re-playability, but Hector : Badge of Carnage is definitely worth every penny. The way I see it, you could go see a 2-3 hour Michael Bay film for $8 (prob more) or you could play Hector for half the cost and not only will iyou be thoroughly entertained, but you’ll even use your brain a bit. That’s a win-win in my book!
For more fun with Hector, you can visit the official website.