I’ve released a couple of mini reviews about Hector lately, as I’ve been feeling guilty about not playing it. I’ve had it installed for well over a year now, but it’s always been one of those “I’ll get to it later” games. As the idea for this website was for me to get through those types of games, I finally decided that this week was the week, and I’ll finally play Hector. It does, after all, have all the ingredients to be a game that I’d thoroughly enjoy. Point and click adventure, set in England, fully voice acted with decent enough graphics. All of that seems great, right?
Scenic Clappers Wreake
Clappers Wreake is a dreadful place. Riddled with crime, and the worst humans in society. It truly is a place that I’m glad doesn’t exist, but it is definitely one of my favourite video game locations. It’s surprisingly big, and exploring it over the course of the three episodes is surprisingly fun. There are some absolutely horrible cesspits dotted around, but making Hector search around in the mire is amazing. He comes out with some phenomenal quips to go along with his actions, and it is hilarious when the gravelly-voiced cop comes out with some brilliant remark. The humour is a big part of this game. It’s very grim, which goes with the setting, but it hits right on the nose. The developers, Straandlooper, really know the worst parts of Britain, and how to make light of them. Chavs, drug addicts and smut peddlers are just a few of the colourful characters you’ll find dotted around the hell hole that Hector finds himself policing. Almost everything Hector says is hilarious, and often leads to some very funny scenarios, especially when Lambert is around!
Striking a balance between tough, yet doable and impossible with the puzzles in a point and click adventure can be a challenge. I always model things on the first Broken Sword game, where I managed to get through it using just my head. There were never any inscrutable puzzles, neither were there any that were too easy. It was a perfect balance of fun and puzzle, and Hector definitely hits very close to that mark. There wasn’t a part where I ever felt stuck, and I was able to progress through the game at a decent pace, enjoying everything the game had to offer. Some of the solutions were pretty wacky, but it never felt like they’d just invented an item for you to pick up and hold for no reason. Blowing up a sex shop to grab the X from the sign, to replace the missing X from the town clocktower, is definitely one of the odder events, but it does work in the context of the game.
Game decisions inspired by the setting
Clocking in at eight hours, it feels like Hector never needed to be an episodic game. I can understand why they’d do it, but it’s a bit crap really. The first two games take around two hours, and that’s if you take your time, with the latter being around three to four hours. This is the kind of length I’d expect from an indie game, similar to what Wadjeteye Games produce. The only difference is that those games are a tad cheaper, so you get more value for money. Resonance, for example, I squeezed over ten hours out of (partially due to achievement hunting!), and that is a similarly aged game at only £7. As there is little reason to replay it once you’re done with it, it’s a challenge to say whether or not you get proper value for money.
For a game the size of Hector, the voice acting needs to be pretty solid. For the most part, it definitely is. Hector himself, Lambert and a host of other characters have been cast perfectly, and totally fit in. But, there are a few characters that are more than just a little strange. Blind Ali, for instance, is a blind pornomaniac, with the weirdest voice I’ve ever heard. I can understand they want to play up to the weird stereotype, but I found myself constantly skipping his lines. It wasn’t just him either, there were a couple of characters that were a bit shit really. I can understand it is a little challenging to ensure every character is cast well, and overwhelmingly, they did a good job, but the bad characters always stick out a bit.
The Final Word
Okay, it does have some flaws, but the game is genuinely really good. At £15 for the full series, it does seem a little steep, but what it lacks in length, it more than makes up with in other areas. There are plenty of laughs, and the puzzles are really quite ingenious. They never stray into being too challenging, but do give you something to scratch your head about. It is a prime example of a game in the genre that is perfect for both newcomers and old timers. I genuinely thoroughly enjoyed the game, from exploring Clappers Wreake to solving the weird, and often disgusting, puzzles within, was great fun.