Broken Sword: The Serpents Curse – review

The Broken Sword series began in the 1990s when point and click adventure games were at the height of their popularity. However the rise of 3D games saw the adventure genre decline in popularity, and it’s only in the last few years, thanks mainly to smartphones and tablets, that the genre has been making a bit of a comeback. Broken Sword: The Serpents Curse is the fifth game in the series and is the first game to be partially funded by Kickstarter. But is the series still relevant to modern audiences, or is it a relic that should be left gathering dust like the artifacts the series is renowned for?

The hand painted artwork is absolutely gorgeous.

The Serpent’s Curse begins in 1937 in Catalonia, Spain, and opens with a painting being stolen by a group of fascist gunmen. The game then moves forward in time to modern day Paris, where the heroes of the tale, American tourist George Stobbart and French journalist Nico Collard, meet by chance at a Parisian art gallery. They bear witness to one of the paintings being stolen, and the gallery owner being shot dead by a man dressed as a pizza delivery driver. Our duo then investigate the murder, and uncover a conspiracy involving a painting with a dark secret and the ancient Gnostic Gospels, which also sees the pair jetsetting to London, Spain and Iraq. The story is complemented by some gorgeous hand painted backgrounds that hark back to the series’ roots. They have ditched the 3D backgrounds of the last two games, which some felt lacked character, for 2D renders which we have to say do look fantastic. The characters are also nicely drawn, although the animations do seem a bit stilted and clumsy. The point and click interface works quite well with the DualShock, although a touch screen interface does seem a more natural fit. The touchpad can be used on PS4 though, which is a lot more responsive and quicker to navigate around. The DualShock 4’s speaker is also utilised well, with dialogue being channeled to it when you talk to someone on the phone, which helps add to the immersion.

Looking good Georgie boy, looking good.

The game does take a while to get into its stride, and the first half has only a small number of locations and characters, which are all based in Paris. The second half of the game thankfully picks up pace, and introduces a few new interesting characters like the shady Russian oligarch Medovsky. The game has plenty of humourous moments, thanks mainly to the incompetent Inspector Navoe (who has obviously been inspired by Inspector Clouseau) and his hapless assistant Sergeant Moue, who are investigating the art gallery owner’s murder. The script is witty, and there are some surreal moments such as when you have to dress up to console a drunk grieving widow, and putting together a contraption to cajole a policeman with a weak bladder into going to the loo. The puzzles are all pretty straightforward, with items doing what you’d expect them to do; although some of the later puzzles are quite taxing, with several riddles and codes that need deciphering, and these are a lot more taxing than using your inventory items to solve a simple dilemma. The game does employ a helpful hints system if you are stuck, which starts off with vague clues, until it eventually tells you what to do if you are still none the wiser.

Some of the later puzzles are actually quite taxing.

Anyone used to the rip-roaring adventures of Nathan Drake in Uncharted may not like the slow pace of proceedings, with characters that walk slowly around at one pace (even when they’re being shot at) and don’t expect to be involved in epic fist or gun fights. You can also get bogged down with long-winded conversations with characters, which the game needs you to complete in order for it to trigger the next part of the tale. There also seem to be a lot of returning characters from previous games, which is obviously to appeal to fans of the series; but that, along with the way the murderer is handled, just seems a bit too hard to swallow.

Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse ticks all the boxes if you are a fan of the Broken Sword franchise, or point and click adventures in general. The story and characters are all well realised, and most of the puzzles will really stretch the old grey matter. If you’re looking for action then you may find the latest adventure of George Stobbart and Nico Collard a bit lacking. Broken Sword 5 also makes no effort to revolutionise the point and click genre – this is purely old school adventuring. But there is nothing quite like it on the PS4, and if you want to exercise more than just your trigger finger, then there is a lot to recommend in The Serpents Curse.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by Kevin M

I've been addicted to gaming since my parents bought an Atari console way back in the 70's. I progressed to the iconic Speccy, Amiga, and all the Playstation platforms. Having seen games evolve from single pixel bat and ball, to HD constructed environments, gaming has changed much from my early years. Having defeated the rock hard R-Type on the Speccy, the biggest challenge I've faced so far is putting up with the hordes of American teens spouting abuse in the current generation of consoles, noob indeed!

Leave a Reply