Publisher: Telltale Games
Reviewing the second part of an episodic series tends to be a bit of a no-brainer, because traditionally these games all boil down to a single logical conclusion:
If you enjoyed the first episode, then buy the second one. If you didn't... then don't.
The same is true for Hector: Episode 2, as it delivers another dose of common sense puzzling and brilliantly observed British humour. However, it also features a few new interesting tweaks to the formula that helps to keep the series relevant and fresh. Those who haven't tried out the original should hit up our full review, but for those who bought into Telltale's best series yet, we've got the full scoop on Hector's latest misadventure below.
After the events of the first game, Hector (the corpulent, flatulent police inspector who plays a little like Gene Hunt from cult TV series Life On Mars) finds himself trapped within a decaying building with no clear means of exit. However, Episode 2 deviates from the tired old 'escape the room' cliché by placing hapless sidekick Lambert on the other side of the wall. Players will have to switch between both characters in order to blow up a rancid toilet (yes, that's exactly how it sounds) - and work out how to transfer items between the two. The puzzles themselves are based on common sense rather than continually combining random selections of items together, and clues about how to proceed are hidden in dialogue and the environments themselves.
The game eventually opens up and gives players a choice of locations from which to continue their investigations. You'll need to frequently revisit different locations in order to collect the right items and information to progress - which is a learning process rather than a chore.
Mechanically, Hector: Episode 2 is practically unchanged from the first game. A simple selection of clicks and context-sensitive commands make for a streamlined and no-nonsense affair. We're also delighted that scene transitions now work perfectly with a double-click, demonstrating that Straandlooper has taken our criticism of the first game to heart. The hint system also ensures that players can never get truly stuck, but at the expense of destroying their self-esteem with continual insults and jibes. It's a small price to pay, though you should try avoid it as much as possible for the sake of getting the most from your money.
Much of Hector: Episode 2's unique draw stems from its very British sense of humour. It's beautifully observed rather than insulting stereotypical nonsense (see also: Ninja Gaiden III), and anyone who's found themselves in the bad parts of town on a Saturday night will doubtlessly recognise many of the parodies of British culture and archetypes. Two hungover ladettes desperately seek a shopping trolley in order to get to their wedding after a distastrous hen night. A cold and dismissive geeky lab technician brilliantly sums up the tech support prima donnas who are present in practically any working environment. And there's a hilarious tap-dancing orphan, which we like immensely. Telltale Games are no slouches when it comes to making genuinely humorous games, but impressively, most of the laughs come from the way in which jokes are presented rather than the punchlines.
Voice acting, sadly, is a little inconsistent. The new characters (such as the aforementioned ladettes, Tech Support Guy and a brummie wide boy found tied up in the back of a car) are voiced impeccably with just the right amount of parody, but bizarrely the main characters frequently slip in and out of their accents. Hector and Lambert are the worst offenders. Doing an impression for too long always results in mistakes being made, and this is clearly happening here.
The scripting saves the day, mind. Hector can comment about practically any object or item in the environment; which is worth doing partly to extend the experience beyond its surprisingly considerable play time, but mainly to enjoy the competency of the writing. Dialogue is absolutely spot-on, and worth engaging in at every possible opportunity.
Finally, yes, Hector: Episode 2 does justify its price tag with a polished and enjoyable campaign that lasts much longer than the first episode depending on how quickly you make the logical leaps required for each puzzle and how much time you spend conversing with its characters. Be sure that you've played the first game... first, though. You slag.
- Engaging puzzles with common sense solutions
- Brilliantly observed humour
- Well-written dialogue
- Inconsistent VA quality
- Lambert is really aggravating
- Comparatively inexpensive iOS versions
The Short Version: Hector: Episode 2 - Senseless Acts of Justice is another premium adventure with rewarding puzzles, fantastic dialogue and a great sense of humour.
If you enjoyed the first episode, then buy the second one. If you didn't... then don't. I hate to say I told you so.