The Most Unique "Telltale" Game: Let's Dunk on Hector Badge of Carnage

Earlier this year, it was announced that Telltale Games had shuttered due to a suddenly-declared bankruptcy. Almost everyone working there (apart from a skeleton crew that was finishing their final season of The Walking Dead) was laid off with no warning and no severance pay - an absolutely horrible situation for anyone to be in. Shortly after the news came out about Telltale’s bankruptcy, several gaming news sites had a second announcement: Telltale’s entire catalog was going to be pulled from Steam.

When the announcement was made that their games were being pulled, I went through their back catalog to see if anything was of interest. Most of it wasn’t, but there was a game that I’d seen on sale a few times. That game (actually three games) was Hector: Badge of Carnage. What I didn’t know at the time is that Hector is a pile of garbage.

Hector is unique among Telltale’s catalog for two reasons:

The first is that it’s one of the only games Telltale had anything to do with that was not licensed.

The second is that it’s the only game that Telltale published, but did not develop themselves.

Hector was originally developed for iOS by a company called Straandlooper, whose entire portfolio up to that point had consisted of releasing a series of apps that played 5-minute episodes of an Irish kid’s show called Lifeboat Luke, along with a single mobile tie-in game about shitting on a crab as a seagull. The first episode released in 2010, with the latter two releasing in 2011 within a month of each other. The PC port was released over three months or so in 2011.

For them, Hector was… a pretty big change. Not only was it basically rated “adults only” on the iOS App Store (it’s basically Leisure Suit Larry only there’s no actual porn or nudity as far as I know), but it’s… pretty dark and also probably offensive to a lot of people. There’s homophobia, use of the “r-slur” (which the developers called a “catchphrase” for Hector), and a bunch of other shit, along with jokes that were dated in 2010.

The best description I can give for this game is Hopkins FBI meets Leisure Suit Larry, with a bit of Arrival in Hell and Mystery of the Druids thrown in. The first game has a no-subtitle intro, so I’ll have to video that, but the main character’s voiceactor is trying WAY too hard to be the guy from Arrival in Hell. It is not a good game for several reasons, mainly having to do with it controlling like a mobile game on PC.

I should mention that on iOS, Hector got absolutely stellar reviews. Not so much when it comes to the PC port, where even IGN gave it a 7.5 and called it a day. I’d say it’s more like a 5 or a 6. I’ve played through the first game and most of the second - though I softlocked the second game before I could finish it.

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9_2iVBrO_400x400: Welcome to Hector: Badge of Carnage. There’s a short intro cutscene I wasn’t able to capture on stream, because this game came out in 2011 and does not like my 21:9 display and OBS won’t detect it unless it’s fullscreen (where it stretches to 21:9 and looks like complete ass). This first shot gives you a pretty good idea of what this game is like.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This game takes place in the fictional British town of Clappers Wreake, which I assume is a Britslang pun of some sort that I’m too American to understand. This opening scene has no subtitles, but what’s happening is that the Clappers Wreake Police Department are responding to a hostage crisis.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The entire cutscene is meant to show that the police are completely incompetent. A lot of this is basically the developer inserting a bunch of unwanted commentary on British politics into the game.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Basically, all you need to know is that there’s a hostage crisis, and the terrorist behind it kills anyone who tries to negotiate with him.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Most of these characters aren’t important. On the left we have Hector’s sidekick, Lambert, who is shown to be as cartoonishly incompetent as the rest of the police. On the right are… two guys whose names I forget but they’re the heads of the police department.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Meet our protagonist, Detective Inspector Hector. The game never really explains why Hector is in a cell in the police department, but he implies that this is where he lives.

Hector: “…with a nun. Or was it a goat?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Hector’s entire character consists of him being drunk a lot and having sex with things. Get used to this.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: And with that, we get our first mission of the game - get Hector out of his cell and get him some pants. And also answer the phone that’s ringing just outside.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This game uses a lot of really dumb moon logic. The devs were competent enough to avoid anything like the Big Bullshit Puzzle in Gabriel Knight 3 (which I also LPed) and generally give you enough clues to figure out what to do. There’s also a hint system, which I’m pretty sure was a paid thing in the iOS version. Hector’s voice, by the way, is basically the guy from Arrival in Hell.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You’ll notice that the game will tell you what command you’re using in the bottom-left hand corner. This game controls like a mobile game: you single-click to look at something, double-click to interact with it.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Again, this is pretty much the entire game. I hated it almost from the get-go. I get that every adventure game protagonist can’t be a Guybrush Threepwood, but Hector is pretty much an unlikable asshole on the level of that guy from Deponia.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Next thing we want to grab is this whiskey bottle. We don’t have any immediate use for it, but it’ll get used pretty soon.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Finally, there’s this poster over here, which… I think the devs are assuming that anyone playing this has seen The Shawshank Redemption. I feel like, given the fact that the movie came out in 1994 and people born in 1999 are 20 years old at this point, it’s entirely possible that there are people old enough to be in the “target demographic” who haven’t seen it. Hell, I know people my age who haven’t seen Forrest Gump and that came out the same year.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You might ask what the fuck we’re going to do with a spoon. See that grate over there?

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Thanks for the buffalo shot, game. Anyway, at this point we know the condom isn’t going to work, and using the bottle gets you the standard ‘that won’t work’ message, so let’s just use the spoon.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Episode 1 of Hector does something that the other two episodes (at least, I know Episode 2 doesn’t) do not: it has items that have to be examined to break them down into a different item. In this case, the shoe breaks down…

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Into a shoelace.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The humor in this game really falls flat, and I think this is just another example of that. There’s only one thing left in the room that Hector will have any kind of reaction to, and that’s the toilet.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’ll spare you the mandatory scene where Hector takes a piss, which he does before he’ll look at the toilet any further. Hector will refuse to pick up the paperclip, and really it doesn’t take long to just combine everything until you get…

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now, a well-designed game might just let you use the paperclip on the door to escape, but not Hector.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: First, we have to click it to turn it into a lockpick. Why the developers thought this was at all necessary is beyond me.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This update’s going to be short so I can get something out. Next time, we’ll go out on the streets and recover Hector’s pants.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Immediately after we leave the cell, we get a phone call from Lambert. There’s no subtitles here and it basically just reiterates what the opening cutscene already said. Why Lambert can’t just come and pick up Hector at the police station is a mystery.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This game is going to start layering on the Britslang pretty quickly, so I might have to explain some of this shit. Honestly, there are ways to make something British without using words no one outside the UK is going to understand. Killing Floor was a great example of using Britslang that was at least mostly comprehensible.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The first thing we want to do is take some coffee and put it in the whiskey bottle.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: From here, we need to talk to the “street punk”. Badge of Carnage has a LOT of dialog tree puzzles in it, and none of them are crafted particularly well.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: As far as I can tell, it’s mostly that the dialog trees are badly structured. I had to go through three different options before the one we need to use to progress appeared.

Hector: “Hey runt! What are you doing here?”

Punk: “I stole something. You got me, bruv. Charge me so I can clear off.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You might ask why the punk would expect to “clear off” after being charged with a crime. The answer is that they’re making fun of a British policy called an ASBO, or Anti-Social Behavioral Order. The idea behind them was that they treated minor crimes as a civil violation rather than a criminal one, and gave the person a fine and what was basically a restraining order instead of prison time. The term “ASBO” was also used to mean “a young delinquent”. Good luck knowing what that is outside of the UK.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The option we actually want is the third one.

Hector: “We give out ASBOs like complimentary mints around here, mate. You want real respect?”

Punk: “Yeah, bruv? You got something better?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now again, I’m not British, but according to stuff I’ve read about it, the entire ASBO program existed to address stuff like loitering and indecent exposure. Most likely, the punk here would KNOW that… but yeah.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I get that there’s ways to figure out what to do here: one of the dialog options you can get with the punk is “Police, I need to commandeer your trousers”… but from a logical standpoint it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Upon leaving the police station, Hector immediately gets accosted by a couple of prostitutes. See the wrecked police car? That’s how we’re going to leave the station.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Gotta love the “humor”. This game is no YIIK, but damned if it’s not trying to be. The entire reason for this exchange is to show you that the prostitute is wearing a garter on one leg. One thing this game is REALLY bad about is showing which screens have exits and where those exits are. In this case, we have an exit to the left and to the right. We’ll go to the right first.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If you’ve watched an LP of Mystery of the Druids, you probably know what’s coming up next.

Hector: “I was sober once, for about three hours. Never again.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: … or not. I wonder if they were going for that, but Telltale made them stop. The hobo leaves, and we get his bottle of mouthwash.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Before we leave this screen, there’s another item we can pick up that’s kind of hidden. It’s this crowbar.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I thought “cherry bakewell” might’ve been slang for something, but as far as I can tell he’s talking about these British cupcake things with cherry jam in them. The joke is that Hector is fat.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Back at the police station, we can find a use for the mouthwash.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If we follow the prostitute to the alley, we can grab her garter off the ground. I don’t quite understand how this makes any sense, but whatever. We need the garter.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Back inside the police station, there’s a key box that has the keys for the car outside, but the box itself is locked.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We can then use the keys to free the delinquent, which we need to progress in absolutely the dumbest and most nonsensical way possible.

Punk: “I TOLD you, man! I want my ASBO!”

Hector: “Sorry, punk. Loophole in the justice system, I have no option.”

Punk: “What loophole?”

Hector: “The loophole where all our staff have ponced off and I’m not a babysitter. Now beat it!”

Punk: “I ain’t goin’ nowhere until I get charged with something.”

Hector: “Out!”

Punk: “No way, mate. I’m staying until you implicate me in a crime.”

Hector: “Augh… listen, I’ve got nothing for you at the minute, but if I can use you, I’ll let you know.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If we go over to the left of the police station, there’s an old lady waiting for the bus.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Whoa, what are we, Nick Robinson?

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Anyway, we now need to do a puzzle that makes even less sense than the Big Bullshit Puzzle from Gabriel Knight somehow. We have to use the punk on the old lady.

Punk: “Yeah, bruv. Anything with S-E-X in it has gotta be good for my rep. What do I have to do?”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: For the record, CSI Miami ran from 2002 to 2012, and was pretty much in its dying days when this game initially released on iOS. I think the whole one-liner meme thing was pretty much dead by 2009. This reminds me a lot of the gym I go to, where they have TVs that just cycle through long-dead meme images on the walls.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We now have everything we need to leave the police station, so let’s do that.

Hector: “Let’s see what sort of half-arsed repair job it’ll take to get this rustbox mobile.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The garter works as a fanbelt, and I’m not entirely sure how that makes any sense. This isn’t even moon logic anymore, it’s just kind of cartoon bullshit. As for the battery… this is going to make even LESS sense.

Hector: “Except armed robbery, if you’re quick enough.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’m assuming that’s Polish, but I have no idea what it means.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Here, we get another overly-long dialog puzzle where we have to pick several wrong options. We want to start with the top one, much as the second one is what we all know Hector would actually say.

Hector: “Why don’t you step out where I can see you?”

Captain: “What, like in front of a window?”

Hector: “I was thinking more like out of one.”

Captain: “And I was just beginning to trust you.”

Hector: “My main concern is for the safety of the hostages.”

Captain: “Ha hee ha, is it now? How ludicrously noble.”

Hector: “Let me speak to one of them to make sure they’re okay.”

Hector: “Look here, pustule, you’ve got to talk to somebody.”

Captain: “Why should it be you?”

Hector: “Have you taken a look around? Everyone else has legs shorter than their arms.”

Captain: “I suppose you’re right. And you seem to be the one who wears the trousers around here.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I don’t really get why this had to be a dialog puzzle at all. I honestly don’t. I mean, it’s no YIIK in terms of just walls of fucking text, but seriously. This could’ve been solved in like… probably a third of the amount of text they actually used. Finally, we get the option we want.

Captain: “Ah, the first intelligent question you’ve asked all day.”

Hector: “I assure you, it was entirely out of self-interest.”

Captain: “I have a list of demands, of course.”

Hector: “Should I get a pen?”

Hector: “I don’t know anything about clocks.”

Hector: “Hold on, I think I’ve got some in me car.”

Captain: “Pornography is eroding the moral fiber of society. Its omnipresence pervades our televisions, our computers, our mobile phones… we are saturated by it! An example must be made. I want the hub of the Clappers Wreake porn industry shut down.”

Hector: “You don’t mean…”

Captain: “Yes. The Exotico.”

Hector: “You MONSTER! DAMN YOU TO HELL!”

Hector: “Stop, please, you’re embarrassing me.”

Captain: “These are my demands. Come back when you’ve completed them. I have nothing more to say.”

Hector: “Well I’ve got something to say to you, butt pube. Hello? HELLO? Tosser.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: That’s about as much of this game as I’m willing to put up with for right now. Next time, we’ll go through the game re-creating my first run as best as I can.

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9_2iVBrO_400x400: I forgot to take a couple of screenshots, and this game autosaves, but the handful of lines of dialog I missed aren’t really important, other than a title drop.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We then get a jar full of loose change, which will allow us to mostly solve the first area of the game in one go.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I had to look this up, but this sentence makes next to no fucking sense. The Palladium is a theater in London that shows stage plays. Tupenny nudgers is britslang for penny slot machines. I have to wonder if the writers just thought they could put something suitably British sounding in there and hope no one noticed or thought to Google it.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We have three places we can head to. At this point, we have no reason to return to the hostage crisis until the end of the game. The first place we want to head is the Park, mostly because we can clear all but one thing there out with what we have right now.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: You might ask why the screen is so much darker on the second run (where I didn’t forget the change jar) than the first. The answer is… I actually don’t know. It’s just sort of random.

Infostand: “Don’t tell me you’ve never seen these around town. It’s a ‘Who Cares?’ badge! Everyone’s wearing them!”

Hector: “Not exactly inspirational, but strangely appropriate.”

Infostand: “Who cares about Clappers Wreake? You do! Wear it with pride!”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We can use the jar of change on this guy, but it’s not really what he’s looking for. Please pay no attention to the Steam pop-up in the bottom-right. It is not in any way indicative of what I’m LPing as soon as I’m done with this pile of shit (that’d be Risen 1, which is much more fun and also a kusoge). One thing that absolutely sucks about recording this game is that there is no way to manually save.

Infostand: “Dissolves on your tongue, makes your breath sweet as the song of the Clapperfinch.”

Hector: “I am never, NEVER eating one of these.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: This is one of the many areas where the game does not do screen transitions very well. It’s obvious that we can exit into the park beyond the gate in the background, but there’s actually nothing to the right even though it looks like there absolutely should be.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: One thing this game also does that I hate is that it also has dummy items that you can pick up which aren’t used for anything. They mostly ironed this out for the second and third episodes, but we could have picked up a tourist map from the stand that does nothing. This is one of the reasons I didn’t finish the Thimbleweed Park LP, because looking back I hated most of that game.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Meet these fuckheads. The game refers to them as “yobs”, but from what I understand that term is usually reserved for gang members, and these kids don’t seem to be wearing gang colors. They do, however, talk in an extremely annoying 1337-speak slang mix that I’m not even going to try and transcribe for the most part.

Hector: “Go catch a bus, Short Arse. I’m here on business.”

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now, one thing this game does - in case you haven’t been able to tell - is that it tries to position Hector as the only competent police officer in a police department that is somehow more cartoonish than the Keystone Kops. This would have been a perfect time to show that: have Hector CQC the guy with the bottle and arrest him.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: So, it’s not made clear exactly what we need to do with these guys or why. Their dialog is annoying as fuck to read, so I’ll just say that if you go through their dialog tree, they’ll mention wanting rave drugs at one point. Yes, the solution to this puzzle is just as fucking stupid as the rest of this game.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Hector is going to attempt to pass off a roll of mints as MDMA. Now, there’s a whole lot of reasons why this makes no sense. As far as I understand it, flavoring an MDMA pill wouldn’t make sense because you don’t chew them, you swallow them. I’m also pretty sure that the pill form of MDMA doesn’t melt in saliva the way a mint does.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: There’s also the fact that these kids have probably taken it before and would know this, in addition to Hector being a fucking cop!

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Naturally, we gotta get a little of that homophobia in there too.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: That joke doesn’t even fucking work! Altoids come in a tin, dipshit!

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Ha ha, you get it? He made them say they love penis, because it’s… not funny at all. I’m really amazed Telltale let this through, even for a 2011 game. Then again, as the second game will show, no one fucking tested this shit.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: So, I’m going to be honest here, I didn’t do this on my first run. It was mostly because I figured there was no way the puzzle was that fucking stupid. Our next destination is actually going to be the porn shop, because that will allow us to do almost everything in the park. There is a second area to the park to the right of this screen but we’ll save that for a bit later.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Blind Ali has a bunch of dialog here (some 20 lines) and absolutely none of it is important. One thing this game and YIIK have in common is that they contain far more fucking words than they ever need to use. What we want to do is go into the Exotico.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Filthy Rich is the guy behind the counter, by the way.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now, here’s something I really don’t get. If you look at the Exotico’s exterior, Hector will say something like “Who needs porn stores anymore? I have the internet at work.” and yet he apparently has a subscription to what I’m guessing is a porn magazine.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We want to grab some free lubricant, which we’ll need to get an item back in the park. Before we go back there though, we need to look at the door behind Filthy Rich.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: If we want to go back there, we need to get Rich out of the way and also find the code for the door.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: I’d question how a blind man knows the code to a keypad, but this actually isn’t the first time I’ve seen this - the first time was The Sexy Brutale.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: He won’t tell us directly what he wants, but what he wants is the sex doll near the counter.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: The way we get the sex doll is incredibly convoluted. First though, we want to stop here and grab the staff off this statue.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Thankfully, we have something to grease it with.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: We can then grab the staff no problem. Why we need to do this is going to be a bit of a mystery for now.

9_2iVBrO_400x400: Now, the dickish part of this is that there’s a third area to the park - it’s to the right of where we just were. There’s a heroin addict in a sex doll box.

That’s about all I can take of this game for now. I might not be able to actually finish this LP by the way, because in recording there’s an event flag that I can’t seem to get to work that I think glitched out the first time I played through it.

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@Moderators This is gonna have to go Twilight Zone, mostly because the game bugged out on me and I don’t feel like replaying it.