Beyond Reasonable Doom is the third and final episode of Telltale Games’ revolting yet entertaining Hector: Badge of Carnage series. The identity of the elusive terrorist has been revealed, and he plans to unleash a biological weapon at the Clapper’s Wreake Festival, or Clapfest, an event which he has organised allegedly to improve the image of the run-down, crime-ridden town. It is Hector’s job to find him and prevent the imminent disaster, which is particularly difficult because everyone else loves the event’s organiser.
Like its two predecessors, Beyond Reasonable Doom is a point and click adventure game. Click an object once, and Hector will comment on it. Double clicking makes him interact with it, which can involve picking it up, switching it, and all manner of other things. The biggest change this time around is in the layout of the game. After a brief prologue, you can access the entire Clapfest area through a map screen. This provides for some very interesting and intellectual puzzles; quite often, you will pass somebody or something, and rightly pay it no regard, only to later realise that you need to interact with it to solve the next puzzle. In addition, particularly in the first part of the game, you need to switch between the overweight and lazy Hector and his tall, stick-thin but daft sidekick Lambert, depending on the task at hand; quite often, you will need to use one after the other in the same puzzle.
One of my biggest problems with Episode 2 was the excessive focus on dialogue-based puzzle solving, which was not particularly enjoyable, because it just involved following dialogue trees. This has been removed for the most part. One or two puzzles do still require a fair bit of talking, but most of it sticks to the formula of think-find-interact which should make up the most part of any adventure game worth its salt.
Another issue was the focus on searching everywhere to find something. If you pay attention in this game, you won’t need to do that at all – everything is very logically placed. Near the end, however, it does begin to descend back into “how on earth was I supposed to figure that out?” mode.
The hint system is intact, and seems somehow more polite than it was in the first two games, in which you were insulted for several pages before being given vague hints. Less effort seems to have been put in this time: the insults are half-hearted, and quite often the solution is just given to you almost immediately. For the most part, however, the clues remain reasonably cryptic, which is how they should be.
Graphics are the same as ever – the visual design is nice, but nothing fantastic. Lip-syncing is pretty much non-existent – characters’ mouths move almost at random – but that isn’t a big problem in a game with such a cartoony visual style. This is better in cutscenes, which are more numerous here than in previous episodes.
I would still say that the dialogue is not as well-written as that of the original. Only a few lines stood out. The game definitely takes a more serious tone this time around, and manages a fair bit of story progression along the way, including a very satisfying conclusion and a series of cutscenes that are seemingly conclusions dotted through the final hour or so of the game. There is a trade-off here: humour for storytelling. It is good in some ways and bad in others, and ends up more or less levelling out.
Value is still the game’s weak point, but it is improved this time around. The game lasts about three and a half to four hours, which isn’t fantastic, but is still far superior to the lengths of the first two episodes. At the same time, it doesn’t feel dragged out – things do happen throughout the game, where story progression was mainly limited to the opening and end of the previous two episodes.
Beyond Reasonable Doom is an enjoyable and satisfying conclusion to what has been a quirky and solid episodic adventure. The series ends as well as it began, and despite the drop in quality towards the middle, I can wholeheartedly recommend the whole series to any fan of point and click adventure games and/or British humour. It’s not the best in its genre, but it is certainly different, and very amusing to boot.