The Broken Sword
series has been around since 1996 and has had a mixed bag of success. Whilst the games flicked between 2D and 3D graphics, the point and click gameplay and mythology-based story lines largely remained the same. Luckily for Xbox One owners, we now get to experience this adventure with the newest entry in the series, Broken Sword 5 – The Serpent’s Curse
. With the various point and click games around, does this one manage to hold its own or does it simply get lost within the rest?
Broken Sword 5 - The Serpent's Curse Don't mind me, I'm just hanging about out here
sees you following another adventure of mystery, murder, and mythology legends with Nico and George, the protagonists of all the past Broken Sword
games. This time around, we start off in Spain, where a firefight breaks out at an old house and a painting is stolen. After this, the story jumps forward and we see the painting is now up in an art gallery in Paris. Just a short time later, the painting is stolen (again) and the owner of the art gallery killed, and here begins the mystery you have to solve. The story may seem a little slow in parts, but often picks up very quickly, with more murders along the way and an even deeper story buried underneath the main one involving Gnosticism. The interest and intrigue with the story grows the further into the game you get, and it will keep you guessing all the way through as you travel across the globe with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
At its heart, the game is a simple point-and-click 2D adventure, but there are plenty of puzzles throughout that keep the game interesting as well as raise the difficulty. You can choose to interact and examine various objects in the different locations you end up in, as well as speak to different people you come across, each with their own unique personality. The items that you can interact with are indicated with a moving symbol when you move over them, but unfortunately there is no obvious sign as to how many items are in a room or which you have already looked at. These items could be clues to further your investigation, they could be things you can pick up and combine with another item or use in a different way, or they could simply be there as part of the environment and nothing more. With each room and location having quite a lot of clickable items, you could be there for quite a while trying to figure out what you need to do.
That's a dead guy, not a piece of art
Most of the puzzles throughout the adventure are directly linked with an item or items you have picked up earlier in the game, and, as noted previously, sometimes this is made obvious to you which item you need, and other times you might be stuck for a while. Most of the time, a simple trial and error method will get you through the puzzle, such as simply interacting every item in your inventory with every other one, and everything in the room, although this can be a long process. Unfortunately, the game sometimes does too good a job in hiding the object you need to pick up and it can be hard to see unless you scroll across all sides of the screen slowly (I missed a couple of objects in locations simply because I couldn't see them amongst the environment). Other times it can be hard to know when you have found everything you need to, but thankfully most of the time George or Nico will conveniently say to themselves where to go next or that they should leave a room.
The puzzles themselves can vary from anything to clicking buttons on a robot until they all show in the "on" position, to simply finding the correct item to open a locked box, and even as far as using the cryillic alphabet to open a secret drawer in an office you've broken into. As you get towards the end of the game, these puzzles get harder and the learning curve seems to be set about right in terms of the growing difficulty. There is the option of a hint should you need it, although I feel privileged to say I didn't need to use these throughout any of the main game puzzles (although I did summon some help from my sister, and with this game two heads are definitely better than one!). Sometimes the answer to the puzzles is obvious right from the off, and other times you have to see similarities in patterns and symbols in order to figure out what other symbols may mean. The mythological background to the story gives the game scope to add more obscure puzzles and environments, which only serve to make the game more interesting and exciting to play.
Any chance I could stick my head out and this guy not see me?
One of the best things in the game is the characters themselves, and the humour in the conversations should have you chuckling to yourself in more than one part. The game often pokes fun at itself, with George commenting and wondering why he is picking up all these strange objects and why he is combining them the way he is (why would you ever dip a paperclip in jam?). For a game with a very serious subject matter based around stealing and murder, the humour fits in very well and yet all the deaths in the game are shown seriously. The banter between the characters, specifically George, with some of the other people, is amusing and helps to carry along the conversations, which are often slow and drawn out much longer than they need to be. The characters themselves are each given an interesting personality, and you can tell that a lot of attention has been paid to this aspect of the game, and it definitely works in its favour.
Whilst the game is bright and colourful, and the environments are lovely to look at with plenty of details to scour out, the game as a whole does not look up to scratch for the Xbox One. The graphics do not look as polished as they could be, and the speech of the characters does not always match up to the movement of the lips. The comic book / cartoon look to the game makes it fun to watch as you play, which is welcome as there is a lot of watching on your part. You can't actually move the character around with the control stick; you have to move the camera and then click to where you want your character to go, which is annoying in itself and gets more so when you can't get Nico or George to stand in the right position in order to interact with a particular item or person. The music in the game is well done though, and feels right for the situation every time, with dramatic sounds for the important parts in the game.
Why did it have to be goats? Anything but goats!
The game sits at an unusual 33 achievements for the 1000 Gamerscore. Looking through the list, some of the achievements may sound missable, but most of them will come with normal story progression, such an finding out the art gallery murder was potentially an inside job
and completing the game and saving the world!
. The game is loosely split into two parts, and you also get an achievement for completing the first
. The few remaining achievements are missable, and you will have to plan a little bit in order to get them, as there are things to do at different points in the game in order to get the hidden joeys
, for example, that would make them easily missed.
Whilst point and click games may not be to everyone's taste, Broken Sword 5
manages to weave in a sense of mystery and a bunch of puzzles, which allows it to appeal to a wider audience. Even veteran puzzlers may find themselves stuck for a little while at some points in this adventure, but there are hints throughout the game should you feel you need the extra help. You are thrown straight into the excitement of the murder, and the story only gets better the deeper into the game you get. Although the conversations are often slow and drawn out, the characters are amusing and the game constantly pokes fun of itself and is never too serious, even given the subject matter. Players of any of the previous games should feel right at home here, and for fans of puzzles that may be a little outside of the box, there is plenty to keep you entertained. There's a lot of fun to be had here and it will definitely get the cogs whirring in your brain, even if it doesn't quite hit the mark all the time.
- Intriguing story that only gets better the further into the game that you get
- Humorous game that never takes itself too seriously
- Might find yourself spending a lot of time on the ending puzzles
- Speech and story progression often very slow and takes a long time to get through conversations
The reviewer spent approximately 14 hours completing 1 and a half playthroughs, solving mysteries and puzzles galore. This unlocked all of the game's 33 achievements. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.