So in one episode, you have to repair a car…and to do so, you need a fanbelt. You have to get a fat hooker to be at least moderately attractive (by having her drink mouthwash), and then while she’s getting fucked by some bloke in a back alley, you take her garter belt and supplement it as a fanbelt. I’m not even going to bother explaining how to get the car battery working again, but suffice to say, if you’re easily offended, then fuck off because this game’s clearly not for you.
Available For: iOS, Mac, PC (reviewed)
Developer(s): Straandlooper, Telltale Games
Publisher(s): Telltale Games
Release Date: 2011
The recent batch of bite-sized adventure games usually causes me to become beyond depressed. It all started, at least with me, with the new Sam & Max series. It’s not that they aren’t funny; it’s just that there isn’t enough content within each episode, it’s not quite on par with the quality you would expect out of a standard adventure game, and often the quality is very low.
Such is the case with nearly every Telltale title and while I applaud them at at least helping bring back adventure gaming to the spotlight, I can’t help but feel we’re still not getting what we really want and that it’s pandering more to the new school, casual gamers that get frustrated and whine if they can’t figure out a puzzle that requires more than 2 minutes to think about it.
And while the Hector series won’t exactly be breaking any new ground in the obscure or tricky puzzles department, at least it has the gall to try to be something new, different, and goddamned funny all in one. Now, I don’t want to give too much away (and yes I realize I solved a puzzle for you in the general overview section, shut up), but just know it’s fun, crude, and classic.
In fact, it would actually be better to simply compare this to other Telltale titles as well as classic titles, so let’s do that. Hector is effectively what Police Quest would be, were it done by the crew that did Leisure Suit Larry only made it slightly more casual for this generation. See, yes, you can’t die, however, the puzzles are ludicrous, easily solvable without hints, but also clever (and often crude) in many cases.
You’ll frequent places like sex shops, back alleys, sex dungeons, butcher shops, and so on to accomplish your quest, all the while spouting hilarious one-liners and showing just how much of a fat asshole bad cop you are. All the characters and locations are unique and the dialogue and voice acting are spot on. Sometimes you’ll come across some real head scratchers for puzzles, but only rarely will you ever be trapped in one or two rooms, instead allowing you to explore several locales so as to get some breathing room and be able to tackle other available puzzles before returning with what you think the solution might be.
This is something that’s been conspicuously missing from many Telltale titles. See, most of the time in Telltale titles, possibly due to budget and scheduling constraints, you don’t get many areas to explore and have very limited interactions with your environment and available characters. Games like the Sam & Max and Strongbad (and to a lesser degree, even Back to the Future) series favor having many locations that you get to return to and slowly build on those, so as a series played back to back it’s not half bad, but playing them one episode at a time, you often feel cheated.
But I never really got that feeling with Hector. Oh sure, they’re still what I would consider to be “bite-size,” but at the same time it has you begging for more with each episode in passing, they feel slightly longer than most of Telltale’s other episodic content, and it’s wrapped up nice and neat for the finale. I never felt like it was too short, too long, overstayed its welcome, or could have been longer.
Don’t get me wrong…I think bite-size gaming is the wrong way to go, but somehow it seemed to work with Hector…perhaps because they were BIG bites, and yeah, pun intended, whatever. Another good way to put this is comparing the original Sam & Max to the new series of Sam & Max, which I’ve totally done, but has been more or less erased from the Internet thanks to the destruction of Morphine Nation.
See, the original Sam & Max was very similar to that of Maniac Mansion 2 – Day of the Tentacle in that it had an overall wacky style and premise, fun characters, bizarre environments and puzzles, and overall was very fun and cartoony. It was about as long as you’d expect an adventure game to be back in the 80s and 90s and is well worth looking into. Now you have…well, episodes that can be beaten in about an hour at best.
I mean, the voice acting is good, it definitely catches a lot of the spirit of the original Sam & Max, but it feels very…hollow. It’s almost like the new Sam & Max is attempting to pay homage to the original Sam & Max, but completely unable to while also trying to keep up with current trends. I felt a similar feeling when watching the new Beavis and Butthead episodes, except I think Mike Judge actually did a damn good job keeping in tune with the original while tackling new subjects…almost as if the series went on a long ass hiatus and nothing else (take note, Seth MacFarlane).
I realize I haven’t talked much about the game itself and more about events, elements, and games surrounding and/or linked to Hector, but understand this: provided you’re not easily offended and you’re looking for a classic adventure gaming experience, really there isn’t much I’d have to say other than GODDAMMIT WHY HAVEN’T YOU PICKED IT UP YET?!