Paris in the Spring. Check. A mysterious murder. Check. George Stobbart and Nico Collard chasing down a mysterious ancient order. Check. Revolution Software have finally released a new instalment in their iconic point and click adventure series and Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse shows that the Revolution still has what it takes to make a great game.
Birthed by a Kickstarter that nearly doubled Revolution Software’s $400,000 target, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse reunites many members of the original Broken Sword cast and crew to create a brand new adventure following a conspiracy based around a stolen painting, an angry Russian and a group of religious heretics. The plot alone is everything fans have come to love and expect from the series, but the nostalgia doesn’t stop there.
Having the series return to the PC means that players are no longer forced to endure the horrible direct input movement and exploration controls seen in The Sleeping Dragon and The Angel Of Death. It’s back to good old fashioned point and click adventuring fun, with the option for players to use an updated UI or the classic UI from the original titles. I must say that I did have a huge grin across my face when I saw the familiar hand, cog and magnifying icons pop up on my screen.
The classic UI isn’t the only return to roots Revolution software have made either as all the environments are beautifully hand-drawn in 2D by artists who have worked with the likes of Disney, Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, Universal, Aardman, Sony and 20th Century Fox. The Broken Sword games have always featured stunningly crafted environments and Broken Sword 5 is no exception. Unlike the backgrounds, the games characters have been created and animated in 3D but there really isn’t a stark and noticeable contrast with both dimensions blending together beautifully.
The animation is smooth for the most-part and I’m really nitpicking when I say that the facial animations when the characters speak doesn’t quite match the audio. When you’re listening to the voice of Rolf Saxon as George Stobbart and a whole array of other fantastic voice acting and fantastic scoring (that opening theme still makes me swoon) you find that it really doesn’t matter. Unfortunately a lot of fans, myself included, were a bit disappointed that Hazel Ellerby wasn’t available to reprise the role of Nico Collard but replacement Emma Tate does a solid job.
Gameplay in Broken Sword 5 is a nice mixture of old and new, with players being able to fill the investigative boots of both American patent lawyer turned insurance man, George Stobbart, and French Le Liberte photojournalist, Nico Collard. In addition to standard point and click mechanics of exploring, picking up and combining objects, Broken Sword 5 also features several mini-puzzles – one example being a neon sign that you have to repair and spell a specific word with.
I was fairly disappointed to find that the puzzles in Broken Sword 5 are tremendously easy. This could be because Revolution have put a lot of their focus into the more logical realm of puzzle solving or because I’m a long-standing veteran of the genre. The lack of urgency to complete set-pieces, something the previous games have included, was also sorely missed – especially since George actually comments at one point as to how you have to work quickly when actually you have all the time in the world. I felt that these adaptations have more to do with re-introducing the genre to gamers and making the game more about the story rather than breaking the flow with brain-busting challenges.
It’s very clear that even despite the game being crowdfunded, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a true labour of love for Revolution and it’s fans. There are plenty of wonderful nods to the previous games including artwork, scenery and returning characters. What’s great is that these inclusions don’t segregate the new fans from the old and the game is just as enjoyable whether you notice the references or not. Where the original Broken Sword games are arguably purely for point and click enthusiasts, Broken Sword 5 can truly be enjoyed by all.
With the popularity of point and click games back on the rise, thanks in no small part to Telltale Games The Walking Dead series, the release of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse couldn’t have come at a better time. With part two of the game due for release later in Q1 2014, fans old and new won’t have long to wait for what is shaping up to be another classic instalment in the iconic franchise.
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is out now for PC, Mac, Linux, and PS Vita. An iOS and Android release is planned for the near future.