The torrent of toilet humour and verbal abuse has come to an end, as Straandlooper's final Hector: Badge of Carnage episode has arrived, with the help of Telltale Games. Beyond Reasonable Doom is the last chapter of this trilogy of episodic games, which has seen Detective Inspector Hector fight his way from the grimy bowels of Clappers Wreake to the... less grimy parts of Clappers Wreake. Part classic brain-busting adventure game, part satire on British culture, Beyond Reasonable Doom doesn't disappoint.
The ordered insanity of Beyond Reasonable Doom begins with a light parody of the Saw series, as Hector and idiot partner Lambert wake up chained in a real toilet of a place. Literally, they're in a septic tank. After an interlude in a nearby bit of countryside, most of the game takes place in a huge festival, which has a wealth of puzzles to solve as Hector tracks down the villain of the piece - a man who wants a kinder, cleaner, gentler Clappers Wreake - or does he? There are lots of very cleverly written comic situations that arise throughout this episode, including an encounter with a leprechaun and a bout of 'farm fighting'. The dialogue is great, the game is hilarious and strangely self-aware at times, and it ties up all the series' loose ends.
This episode does feel very meaty, and it took us around five hours to complete. There's a wealth of areas to explore - in the festival alone, it felt like there was a never-ending array of screens, each with a new stall or weird character with a life to ruin. It's good that there's almost no recycling of content from previous episodes either, which is a welcome surprise compared to Telltale's usual fare. Speaking of, gameplay-wise, the Hector games don't seem to have much in common with Telltale's recent efforts, most likely due to Straandlooper's development.
The difficulty of Beyond Reasonable Doom will be a rude awakening to any gamers coming off of Telltale's Back to the Future. You're required to think in bizarre ways to see how you can use certain objects in combination with others, and you often have to listen carefully to what characters tell you in conversations to come up with the correct solution. There is a hint system in place which essentially contains an entire walkthrough of the game, but the clever thing about Hector is that it openly insults you and makes you feel bad for reading it. You can cheat if you want, but if you want to retain your self-esteem you'll have to try to figure things out on your own. In addition, the dual character system that sees you controlling both Hector and Lambert returns from the second episode, although once again it isn't used extensively.
The voice acting is once again spot-on in this episode, with Hector's gruff apathy and Lambert's blissful ignorance shining through. The game's 2D cartoon-like graphics are appealing and bizarre, with some apparent homages to old adventure games like Sam & Max Hit the Road. While this episode was largely trouble-free, a couple of the technical hitches of past episodes return in Beyond Reasonable Doom, with Hector flickering on and off a treadmill early in the game, and dialogue choices still taking a while to load.
All up, this episode is definitely worth picking up if you've played the others. Speaking of the whole Hector series, rather than just Beyond Reasonable Doom, it's been a hilarious ride with some filthy potty-mouthed humour, oddball situations and occasional gore. With gameplay firmly rooted in the adventure games of the past, but with satire on the UK of today, we'd recommend the whole trilogy to any fan of the weird, the foul-mouthed or the funny.