I grew up in a house full of Sierra adventure games. I led Roger Wilco in his quest to defeat the Sariens, I helped the Royal Family of Daventry defeat all manner of mystical creates, and when I got a bit older, I played through thrillers like Gabriel Knight and Phantasmagoria. And as soon as I found the instruction book and the PC moved into my room, I played through Leisure Suit Larry. It was familiar but aimed at an older audience. There was a focus on adult humor instead of adventure, and it was wonderful. Hector: Badge of Carnage carries on in the tradition of Leisure Suit Larry. It’s aimed at adults, the jokes have some raunch to them, and everything feels over-the-top without hurting the overall experience.
Senseless Acts of Justice picks up right where We Negotiate With Terrorists leaves off. Hector is being held hostage and he still hasn’t found the terrorist who had him running all over Clapper’s Wreake the first time around. Gameplay is much the same, but the second episode is larger than the first and there have been a couple additions that make everything flow better and faster. The addition of a GPS map makes zipping around Clapper’s Wreake a breeze, and the story upgrade is great. We Negotiate With Terrorists felt like a string of fetch quests (a funny set of fetch quests, but a set of fetch quests nonetheless) while Senseless Acts of Justice feels more like a detective story. Story leads turn into puzzles, and you’ll have multiple leads active at the same time. Working part of the way through one lead will open another which will open a third which will come full circle and enable you to move forward on the first lead.
In addition to feeling more like a detective story, Senseless Acts of Justice features puzzles that feel better. They’re not necessarily harder or easier, but the solutions are less obtuse and everything about their design feels smarter. For example, at one point Hector needs access to a filing cabinet. In order to get at it he takes the owner out for dinner, drugs her, and then heads back to her shop to paw through her files. The puzzle feels organic, the solution fits with the setting and characters, and the situation makes for some great jokes. If you enjoyed the humor in We Negotiate With Terrorists, then you’ll enjoy the humor in Senseless Acts of Justice as well. The humor is largely the same, but the increased length means you get more of it, and that’s a good thing since both games’ jokes hit much more often than they fell flat.
There are still a couple of puzzles that can be tough to figure out, but Senseless Acts of Justice features a great hint system to get you over the hump when you’re feeling stuck. Some of the British references might fly over your head, but that feeling is lessened in Senseless Acts of Justice. As this adult-oriented point-and-click moves forward it’s becoming obvious that Straandlooper and Telltale are aware that they have a multinational audience. If you’re loving the revival of adventure games as much as I am, then Hector: Episode 2 is a no-brainer. It’s long, it’s funny, and the puzzles make sense.
Pros: Funny throughout, hysterical at times; feels much more like a detective story than Episode 1
Cons: A couple puzzles are tough to figure out, some British references may not land American audiences