Video review to follow shortly
The Broken Sword series is one that I started playing back in the early 90s and for me has always been one of the better point and click adventure games out there. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is the fifth part of a series that has been out for a little while on mobile devices and PC, but I had not gotten the chance to reacquaint myself with the protagonists George Stobart and Nico. In this adventure, you begin in a small art gallery where a robbery-gone-wrong turns into a murder while you are on the premesis and witness this hideous crime. As always, there is more to it than meets the eye, and it’s up to you to investigate why the painting was stolen and why the robber killed for it.
Part of the intrigue to these games has always been the twists and turns in the story. As such, I don’t want to give too much away other than to say it is told brilliantly well with voice acted NPC’s and clues to find within the environments. Like any good TV series, as each part of the story unravels you can’t wait to find out more, and it’s this hook that keeps you invested until the credits role.
If you have played point and click games before, then you will know what to expect. Move a cursor around the locations and click on things which you think may be a clue. When you do, George will take a closer look and reveal something to you which will allow you to piece together the parts of that particular scene. First and foremost, you need to investigate the art gallery and speak to the people there to see if they know anything. Each part of the dialogue and each item you find will be important to solve the part of the puzzle which will get you to the next section of the game, and each part slowly reveals more and more to keep you even more intrigued.
Often, you will come across a section where there will be some sort of puzzle in which you will have to use the items you have picked up and the information gathered from people you have spoken to in order to figure out what to do next. An early example of this comes when you take control of Nico. Nico is a reporter who you will know if you have played the earlier instalments of the franchise. She and George were in an intimate relationship which unfortunately started to go wrong in the second and third instalments, but here they meet again.
She initially chases off the robber to try and get a photo of him, but when she comes back to the gallery, she cannot get back in to speak to George because of a pesky guard. By asking him questions, you just know he is not going to budge, but he also reveals something telling about himself. He needs coffee to stay awake. Yet, there was one time when he had a cup of coffee while on duty, and it resulted in a real nightmare of a situation. That was enough for me to investigate a nearby coffee shop. After a long chat with the waiter, I was able to grab myself a takeaway coffee. I gave this to the guard, and he ran away to find the nearest Pissoir which is a place where you can relieve yourself. This allowed me back into the gallery to speak to George and move the game along.
The game is full of instances where you will need to speak to and question NPC’s while gaining as much information as possible. Often, you will get stuck, and you will have to resort to trial and error just to solve a puzzle. How, for example, was I going to catch that pesky cockroach that was scaring the lady I needed to interrogate? There aren’t any puzzles that are highly illogical, but there will be moments when you solve a puzzle where you will be asking yourself why you hadn’t figured it out earlier. I mean, that blasted neon sign puzzle early on took me a long time to figure out, but that’s part of the fun in this type of game. I have played many point and click games, and what differentiates them for me is the story that ties it all together. How good the interface is for controlling the character and how logical or illogical the puzzles are. Do they make sense or are you going to be stuck on stuff for hours because they are illogical and no one would ever figure it out. Here, I think the balance is just right, and that makes for a game that plays very nicely indeed.
One thing about Broken Sword 5 that is absolutely great is everything is voice acted, and it brings so much character to this game. I think it’s fantastic and done extremely well. Each new zone has great tracks in the background which seem to always set the perfect mood.
The only issue I found is voices are too quiet, and turning up the volume of the voices in the settings made the sound distort slightly. Otherwise, the sound here is very good in adding a great touch to this very well-put-together game. You can tell that the devs had a pretty decent budget.
Visuals and Performance
The game is dripping with detail, and each scene or section you come across has been lovingly crafted. Each country from France, England and Spain look absolutely fantastic, and each city and place you visit is somewhere that you can’t wait to delve into, explore and discover more details, clues and to speak to a great cast of interesting and shady characters. The colour palette used in Broken Sword the Serpents Curse is excellent, and the overall design and fidelity are great. Performance in a game like this is not really worth talking about because there isn’t much movement to be fair. The backgrounds are static in most cases. The only thing that moves are the characters which is done well, and the animation is mostly smooth.
This is a game great on the move as well as on the TV. Taking it on the move has the added bonus of using touchscreen controls which is pretty cool as you can touch points of interest on screen if you like which works fine and is actually a nice touch rather than using the analogue stick to move a cursor which is always a little cumbersome on consoles.
This is a one player adventure game which is going to last you approximately 10-12 hours dependent on how quick you can figure things out. None of the puzzles are too difficult as most of the stuff required to solve them will be in the immediate vicinity, or there will be a nearby NPC who requires questioning. £24.99 may be a tad on the expensive side while bearing in mind how much competition there is on the Switch eShop right now.
Audio needed to be louder. Turning it up distorts the voice acting.