Straandlooper and Telltale Games are back with the final episode of the absurdly raunchy Hector: Badge of Carnage. For those that have visit Clappers Wreake for the first two episodes, you know that Hector and his partner Lambert are the very definition of an abusive relationship. Episode 3, subtitled “Beyond Reasonable Doom” once again allows you control of both characters, and comes complete with the sarcastic and over-the-top dialog you’ve come to expect.
Unfortunately, Episode 3 limps along even more slowly than the previous entry in the series with slow pacing compounded by puzzles that are, more often than not, too obvious to be enjoyable. The game also continues the formula of opening with the protagonists in a locked room. Unfortunately, the solutions aren’t nearly as creative as they have been in the past.
I commented in my Episode 2 review that a couple of the puzzles provided too little context. In this chapter, the needle swings way too far in the other direction, leaving you at major plot points with only the specific item you need to move on. Unfortunately, this episode uses one crutch over and over again for item collection. Often, you will identify the item you need, speak to the person who has it and have no way to obtain the item. However, if you leave and come back, the item will mysteriously be abandoned for you to retrieve. The “leave and come back” mechanic is overused and, frankly, lazy.
The game also includes moments of branching dialog that don’t seem to matter except to show you that you either don’t have the right item to solve the puzzle or to stretch out the game for even longer. There are no dialog puzzles at all. It’s all just filler.
Additionally, the game doesn’t work nearly as hard to incorporate pop culture references. I mentioned subtle Doctor Who references in my reviews for the first two episodes. In this entry, the show is simply mentioned. Again, where I thought a great deal of care was taken to work in little nods to pop culture in previous episodes, I found this entry to be half-hearted.
Visually, I only encountered one glitch near the beginning of the game, but otherwise, the game is well animated and humorous. The voice acting continues to live up to the standard set by the earlier chapters and familiar characters make a return, peppering in additional humor.
It’s not that this final episode of Hector: Badge of Carnage is bad, it just seems like the series has been on a downward slope since the first episode. The humor and animation continue to be strong, but the puzzle design goes limp at the end. If you’ve already invested in the full three-episode series, by all means, finish it out. However, if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, read my reviews for each episode to determine if Hector is right for you.
Review copy provided by publisher.