- Format: PC (version reviewed), Mac, Linux, Vita, iOS, Android
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Revolution Software
- Developer: Revolution Software
- Players: 1
- Site: http://www.revolution.co.uk/games/bs5/
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse has a pretty high set of expectations to meet, what with the high bar that the first two adventures set. Then again this is the first of two episodes so you won’t get a full perspective of what it will eventually offer. What it does offer at the moment errs towards being an adventure that fans of the series will appreciate more than newcomers.
Everything begins at an art exhibition in Paris; both Nico and George are there, so obviously something goes wrong. In this case an armed robbery occurs as a pizza delivery guy struts in with a pistol, waves it around, steals a painting and then escapes through the front door. Unfortunately on the way out the gallery owner tries to be a hero and gets shot.
Having insured the exhibit and being the super sleuth that he is, George tries to investigate why no alarm triggered and why that specific painting was stolen. Nico being more action orientated decides to hunt down the robber/murderer and eventually returns a short while later. The game continues to switch between the two as you try and solve the case but you end up spending the majority of your time with the loveable George.
The story dabbles in the occult side that you’ve come to expect from the series, but seems to dismiss it as an element of the story by focusing so heavily on the theft itself and that route of the plot. The occult elements focus on the painting being evil and it feels like George undermines the importance of it at every turn – as only the priest you meet in the gallery mentions anything about the relevance of the contents of the painting.
The tone of the game seems a little askew throughout; mainly when playing George, as Nico always treads alongside a more grounded mystery based plot. She does dabble occasionally with more ridiculous characters but not as often as George does. Broken Sword games like to have a little humour in them but a few throwaway gag characters add a bit of tedium to what is otherwise a reasonably pleasant game. Luckily most of the characters work as intended, but one sticks out as hindering enjoyment at every turn.
The detective in charge of the murder investigation, Detective Navet, seems to be an attempt at a Clouseau character that is far too inept, stubborn and ignorant, to really be anything other than a buffoon that constantly gets in the way of your far more successful investigation. Silly is one thing and his underling, the returning Sergeant Mou, does this far better without being anywhere near as obnoxious.
One of the big things about this Broken Sword was a return to standard 2D point and click and as always it’s still the best way to do these sorts of games (generally speaking). The hand drawn backgrounds are lovely, highly detailed and HD but the character models don’t quite reach the same standard. They aren’t bad by any means, but minor and secondary characters look slightly blurred when they aren’t moving, giving a strange look to them when they talk to you. Of course Nico and George are fine though, so rest easy – your favourite golden-haired hero still looks as sharp as ever.
Being ones to reminisce about days gone past, they’ve added slick, new “modern” UIs for the speech and inventory; which can be replaced with slightly pixelated text without backgrounds for speech and a more quickly accessible inventory. It’s very much a six of one and half a dozen of the other choice here, with the only more awkward layout being in the classic UI dialogue choices.
The puzzles are neither too easy nor too complex for the most part; so you should end up riding relatively smoothly through the story without getting stuck for long. That said if you do find yourself at a loss for what to do next you can use the hint system, which gives out a tiered list of hints depending on what/where you are. It starts off gently telling you roughly what you need to do then ramps up all the way to telling you outright in its final attempt at helping you progress.
It’s difficult to tell where exactly this is going to go; most episodic games give you a bit more of an inkling into how the rest of the game will develop. This however sticks heavily to the side of the story revolving around the robbery, while the mystery concerning the painting’s origins flits in and out of existence briefly reminding you that it’s still a thing you should be aware of.
Broken Sword 5 episode one is by no means bad, but it could be the nostalgia of characters that are both likeable and familiar that’s carrying it; more than the story that you have so far. Even though plenty happens in the time you spend with this half, it keeps feeling like there’s something missing – but that could just be the overly slow buildup given to the occult mystery.