It’s been a long and difficult case for Detective Inspector Hector, Clappers Wreake’s “fat arse of the law”, but his tortuous pursuit of a morality terrorist comes to a timely, largely rewarding end in Hector: Badge of Carnage – Episode 3: Beyond Reasonable Doom. (Note: The next paragraph briefly references the ending of Episode 2, so read at your discretion. You have been warned.)
When we last left our hero, Hector and his hapless partner Lambert had been knocked unconscious by the no-longer-anonymous terrorist. So it’s not much of a surprise that Episode 3 begins with the two of them in an insidious death trap, with clear inspiration drawn from the Saw movies. This being a Hector game, it’s even less a surprise that this trap is inside a septic tank. Lambert is chained to a bathtub while Hector must keep the level of waste down by running on a treadmill, which is probably the worst torture that could have been devised for him. It’s also torture for the viewers in a way, as both Hector and Lambert are wearing hospital gowns with revealing backsides.
After escaping this sinister contraption, the pair have to find their way back into the city to stop their nemesis from unleashing his horrific master plan. Once they arrive, however, they find both their fellow police officers and the citizens of the city all distracted by a massive carnival, arranged by the Clappers Wreake Preservation Society (thanks to a reluctantly generous donation from Hector previously). The carnival has everything: rides, food, a beer tent, characters from the first two episodes, a Hannibal Lecter-styled murderer on display, and a single port-a-potty. Hector must find a way to warn the public of their impending doom, then stop the terrorist’s plot once and for all.
If you’ve played the first two episodes (and you really should before even thinking of playing this one), you’re familiar with the game’s interface by now. One click on a hotspot examines, two clicks manipulate. Branching conversations with optional topics and inventory use also work the same, and the layered hint system returns as well. You’ll once again switch back and forth between Hector and Lambert for a while at the start of the game, but this is soon abandoned for the rest of the adventure, just like in Episode 2. Such consistency isn’t a surprise in an episodic series like this, but it’s worth noting that the finale treads water more than raising the bar for the series, at least in terms of its basic formula.
What Beyond Reasonable Doom does provide is a much needed change in scenery. The cartoony graphic style of the series remains, with charming hand drawings providing a necessary counterpoint to the filth they often portray. But while the first two episodes were a series of grimy city locations, this installment starts in a more rural setting and then moves on directly to the carnival. While both of these backdrops have almost as much disturbing smut and dirt as the cityscape did, they’re a nice break visually.
As raunchy as the third episode is, the shock value of the first two adventures has worn off a bit. In Episode 1, I remember being stunned at some of the things Hector pulled off, but here his crazy antics have become almost predictable in their amoral nature. As soon as Hector comments to a recovering alcoholic that he needs the man’s clothes, I’m fully aware that my mission now entails getting this man drunk and ruining his sobriety. That’s not to say the game isn’t funny anymore, however; it still is. A scene with Lambert and a nut-touching leprechaun (don’t ask) is as delightful as it is disturbing, and a moment where Hector and the villain banter one-liners from Robocop back and forth also brought a serious smile to my face. But the shock of the cesspool that is Hector and Clappers Wreake has now eased, and actions like “use glove on cow” seem more normal with each episode.
Maybe this contributes to the puzzles in Episode 3 still seeming way too easy. Most of the time when I was temporarily stuck, it was only because I hadn’t been to the right location to find the object I needed. In one instance, Hector needs to cut some ropes. The solution is to walk to the next screen and simply pick up an object that will obviously work for this purpose. When he picks it up, Hector even comments that he expected more of a challenge in getting the item. It’s a funny line, but it rings a little too true in this game. You’ll still need a “what would Hector do?” mentality to solve some of the more obscure challenges, but by this point players should have a pretty good grasp of that.
Overall, Beyond Reasonable Doom is a fitting finish to a strange but enjoyable trilogy. It has the usual filthy undertones in a slightly different setting, along with the same enjoyable artwork and voice acting, even if the puzzles remain consistently easy. This segment is a touch longer than its rather short predecessors and even has an epic climax that stretches out for quite a bit. The third episode is just as funny as ever, but I can’t help but feel that Hector: Badge of Carnage is finishing its run at the right time, just as the perpetual edginess and crudity are beginning to wear out their welcome. The series finale certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but Straandlooper has nicely wrapped up a great series, even if it made us cringe a little along the way.
Platform: iPad, Mac, PC
Genre: Comedy, Mystery
Developer: Straandlooper Animation
|Download||September 1 2011||Telltale Games|