Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 3
The third episode of Hector: Badge of Carnage is here, and not even in the face of Armageddon will its pacing compromise. The villain was previously revealed in Episode 2, and very shortly into this final episode so is his scheme, but don’t expect Hector to find himself on the fast track. Instead you’ll find more encounters with the numskulls that share the hometown of Clappers Wreake, some so bizarre that it’s a wonder why Hector gets up in the morning to save them at all. It is a clumsy final chapter, continuously funny but hampered by odd gameplay decisions.
While the first two episode had Hector exploring multiple parts of the town in order to solve the game’s mystery, the third episode takes place within Clapfest, a festival meant to celebrate local history. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the game is necessarily smaller. Like before, Episode 3 comes with its own introduction sequence to get you acquainted with both the controls and the story. This then leads up to Clapfest, which contains just as much to do, all sprawled out across its main attractions.
The various characters that occupy Clapfest turn out to be more colorful than helpful, resenting any implication that there may be terrorism afoot. Arriving on the scene in nothing more than a semi-revealing hospital gown, it’s up to Hector to figure it out on his own, and for the majority of the time it works. Most of its puzzles, including the ridiculous one in which you entered your partner into an ugliest contest, are simple to solve once you realize the pieces you need.
The stumbling blocks come in the form of change: the map shifts, ever so gently, as you roam around and proceed through the game. In a simple case, there is a booth at the beginning of Clapfest containing nothing but a sign advertising a contest, pointing at an empty prize pedestal beneath it. As you play, at one point that spot becomes filled in by a golden car filled with beans.
There won’t, however, be any notification that anything has changed. Rather, the game wishes that if you find yourself at a loss that you explore Clapfest once again, hoping that something has changed. On one hand it seems as though this would be averted by the fact that you’ll be running back and forth already to solve the games puzzles.
On the other hand, picture this. One puzzle requires you to find a piece of paper with a number on it. The only written number throughout the entire game is worn on a contestant for the ugly competition. Logic says that once he loses the contest, he would ditch the number, allowing you to acquire your prize. In actuality you find him bawling his eyes out over how beautiful he has become, with no distinct manner of getting the written number.
What you have to do is leave the specific area and then come back. He will be gone. This kind of thing happens throughout the festival portion of the game. There are items that you need to continue the game, but they simply won’t be accessible until the area has shifted. The previous two episodes encouraged a linear train of thought through its logic, but for the most part they made sense. They didn’t require you to re-explore old areas in hopes that something different might be there. Regardless, the hint system has returned, so if you really find yourself at a loss as to what to do next, it’s always available.
My biggest disappointment with the story is that it never explains what “the thing” was. It was a silly joke that made its way into both Episode 1 and 2, but there’s no mention of “the thing” in this last part. It probably doesn’t matter, but I can’t help my curiousity considering it was brought up twice prior.
Episode 3 is still funny and absurd; as ridiculous as it is clever. It is an interesting throwback to adventure games, creating an odd bunch of characters to interact with, even though it never properly demonstrates the danger that the town is said to be in.