Hector: Badge of Carnage is a decidedly more British effort than anything Telltale Games has published previously, and yes we're including their quartet of Wallace and Gromit episodes. Running the gamut of accents from Scottish to Chav, and with an appealingly bleak and sarcastic view of society at large, Hector is a trilogy of British blue collar episodic games. Developer Straandlooper, with the assistance of Telltale Games, has finally released the second episode, Senseless Acts of Justice, and it's just what the doctor ordered for adventure gamers looking for a bit of a challenge while watching lots of blood, vomit and poo.
Senseless Acts of Justice picks up just after last episode's cliffhanger left off, although Hector does remark that it's '"felt like a year" since we last saw him. After an anonymous psychopath has coerced the eternally truculent detective Hector into improving Clappers Wreake, a fetid toenail clipping of a town, Hector must escape his deadly trap and learn his nemesis' identity. There's a bit of a divide between the quality of the writing and dialogue in this episode (which is brilliantly hilarious and obscene) and the actual story and events which happen during it. The investigation doesn't advance incredibly far (lampshaded by the dialogue but still true), and just about anybody could guess the criminal's identity from the last episode anyway. While this episode feels lengthier than the last one, you still get a feeling of "that's it?" by the end.
Hector is more of a traditional adventure game than you may be used to, in that its puzzles don't all have immediately obvious solutions, and often require a fair bit of screen-hunting, object-combining and dialogue trees, much moreso than, say, Back to the Future. There is a hint system available that will hand you the answers, but the game isn't afraid to outright insult you for resorting to it. It's refreshing to finally play an adventure game with a measure of challenge, and while it can still be completed in 5-7 hours, it feels like there's more to do than the last episode, with more places to see and more convoluted puzzles to solve. A new mechanic that works well involves using both Hector and his braindead partner to work together, but only appears for the first part of the game.
Unfortunately there are some technical hiccups which still bother Hector. The first episode was originally designed for iPhone and iPod Touch, and was then brought over to home computers using the Telltale Tool. Running on a modern display at, for instance 1920 x 1200, causes the sprites to lose definition and appear blurry, especially during animations. There are also several glitches, which sometimes caused characters to disappear and crashes. The game also tends to slow down incredibly whenever presenting dialogue choices, which gets annoying very fast. It's a shame these problems exist in a game that otherwise has a lot of personality in its characters, Day of the Tentacle-ish backgrounds and great voice work.
Senseless Acts of Justice is nonetheless a challenging and very funny middle-installment in the Hector trilogy that has more to see and do in Clappers Wreake and even more to offend and blind your sensitive eyes with. If you laughed at the first game, there's even more to laugh at this time around, although you've probably already figured out where the story's going. Some technical setbacks disappoint on PC, but it's still the second most fun you'll have with a church-themed brothel.