Broken Sword 5 The Serpent’s Curse is a game with a strong and long running legacy behind it, almost 18 years to be exact. Popular for its strong story telling and 2D point “N” click style of gameplay, Broken Sword has been seen across a number of different platforms all strong enough to deliver without any compromises. Developed by Revolution Software with the aid of a Kickstarter campaign, Broken Sword 5 is no different from its predecessors and manages to deliver an amazing experience.
Wrapped in conspiracy, suspense, and adventure Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is murder and mystery at its best. Taking place in the City of Paris a gallery owner is shot dead during the robbery of his art store and a painting goes missing. Dedicated lawyer George Stobbart and photo journalist Nico Collard is given the responsibility of solving the crime, as the blame is being cast onto the Devil, no literally, thee Devil.
With a superstitious Priest who just so happens to be present at the scene of the accident, there’s an overwhelming sense of mystery and evil surrounding this daunting story. The game feels and plays out like one big interactive crime drama common to afternoon television, except it cuts out all the boring non-interesting scenes irrelevant to the main plot. The use of cut-scenes played against the nature of its Two-Dimensional visual style adds to this “afternoon crime-drama” affect. The use of cel-shaded visuals in combination of a “mature” narrative is what sets this game apart from those of a similar gameplay style, yet allows it to appeal to a wider audience.
The game is played in out in a click and point style of interaction whereby you examine your environment from the perspective of the character George, as he plays detective to the situation. While the narrative and tremendously portrayed characters deliver the sense of a game that borders into the movie territory, this isn’t done in a bad way or too much in which you have lackluster interaction with the game itself. It presents itself as simple yet effective in what it sets out to give the player. Older fans of the Broken Sword series will take to the game with a feeling of nostalgia and will undoubtedly feel right at home.
Clicking certain items or characters in the environment opens up an on-screen window prompt providing options for your character to interact. Interacting with other people in the game in this way allows conversations to get started with choices relevant to the situation at hand. Everything here that the game provides you with makes sense and feels right with the topic that’s underway. The sense of immersion that the game holds on you and the character of George is a strange one, although be it a good type of strange.
You fully feel that you’re playing a game but the feel of watching it play out gives the sense that your playing alongside George rather than as George. He always has something to say with just about everything taking place or with the objects in the game. This is presented through George talking directly to you, or himself rather but through his thoughts, and this feels natural better yet it feels human and that’s what further more makes this an all-round better experience.
It should be noted that amongst the high immersion factor and well written narrative that keeps you engaged, and wanting to further progress, this is a game that requires patience and it’s in its point and click style of play that this is obvious. What’s unique about this game in particular is that no section or parts of the game feel unplayable in what you’re trying to achieve nor do they feel dragged out.
The issue of pacing can be one thing that turns players off when it comes to point and click adventures, where the need for more things taking place on the screen feels needed. But the balance between pacing and the input from the player feels just right here and doesn’t detract from anything in the game or attempt to bore you with silly cues. Every action you do and every item you find in the game feels linked and seems to have some meaning as to why it’s there.
In other words, things you do have meaning and it feels rewarding when doing things for the purpose in which they’re intended to. If you do find yourself lost for progression due to the nature of the game’s difficulty you can always select the hints icon at the top of the screen. This basically guides you in the direction of the next goal should you be stuck with the task at hand. The way the game plays out means you never really want any help from it and it feels gratifying not to take it. Although environmental puzzles are way too easy and may deter user experience.
Broken Sword 5 has a very peculiar visual style in that it uses cel-shaded objects and characters with a two-dimensional background that the player can interact with, on a three-dimensional scale of movement. Its interesting as well as spectacular in the way that the characters can transition themselves back and forth between the two dimensions in such a smooth and apparent natural way. The game plays with this use of perspective through out its entire length and the different background that it plays into never gets dulls or uninspiring to be in.
The visuals themselves may appear basic in it’s hand drawn illustrative style of background, but the use of colour and shadows that tie themselves to the movement of its two-dimensional characters looks fantastic. The use of perception is one of the things that gives this game some real strength, and with the emphasis of graphics as well as the use of visual styles becoming a more important and noticeable topic in gaming these days thanks to games such as Dishonored, and Journey, this is a game that’s sure to grab people’s attention.
I couldn’t help but notice and occasionally think to myself what if the objects closer to the border of the screen implemented 3D vision to further mesmerize the use of space, distance, and perception. The mix of static and dynamic backgrounds working alongside each other maybe something of my own personal interest, but there’s no denying how amazing it looks, and how well it’s done.
The most noticeable asset after the game’s amazing visual style if not the greatest, lies in its sound design. The amazing audio cues that follow after each and every action that takes place is truly outstanding. In a game that centers around crime and suspense the tension and action that is felt through its music is obvious in its presence, and I highly doubt the game would be as immersive without its sound design.
This isn’t just solo to its narrative either, the background noises of chirping birds, blowing winds, and the traffic horns of cars really allow you dive into its world. The funny thing about this however is that you do not actually get see the majority of these assets, such as birds, cars and cyclists. But the ambiance of their existence fools you, but in a positive way mind you, into believing that they’re there. Voice acting is in tune with the rest of the game’s audio and it’s as talented and well played as it is to be heard.
The feeling of being part of the game makes it a joy to listen to the character’s conversations, even though its you that makes most of the choices into steering what they say. Everything in the game feels like it has a real existence, like it shares weight and an energy to its world. What’s remarkable about this is that the game in both its audio and visual is really simple within its design, yet it makes a staggering impact when it’s come together as one package.
This game was reviewed on the PC.