A Point and Click Legacy
In the early 90s there were really only two genres of games that were well represented on the PC; real-time strategy and point-and-click adventures. RTS games were represented by legendary titles like Warcraft and Command and Conquer, while the point-click-genre had many incredible titles to explore. Games like Myst, Maniac Mansion, Sam and Max, and the Monkey Island series became staples for the genre and allowed other developers to bring their adventures to life. One of the developers was the UK based company Revolution, and in 1996 they presented the world with a little game called Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars.
I personally remember playing this game as a young teenager. The animated graphics reminded me of playing a well-drawn cartoon, and that was not a bad thing. The story centered around an American named George Stobbart who witnessed a terrorist attack on a café which was perpetrated by a man dressed as a clown. Guiding George through the mysteries concerning this attack, a grand conspiracy was discovered. My pre-pubescent mind couldn’t comprehend the depth of the story that had unfolded in Broken Sword. I later returned to the title as an adult and came to find it to be the video game equivalent of a Dean Koontz novel.
Four sequels later, Revolution has officially released its newest Broken Sword title on to the Nintendo Switch. This title, called Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse, was originally released back in 2013 and is said to be the best game in the series. Well, let’s see if that is true.
Here is my review of Broken Sword 5: The Serpents Curse on Nintendo Switch.
A Masterpiece and A Mystery
The story of Broken Sword 5 revolves around a mysterious painting called La Malediccio. During the prologue, man is murdered in Catalonia, Spain during a revolution trying to protect the painting. Somehow the painting makes its way to an art gallery in Paris, France. George Stobbart, now an insurance agent overseeing the art of the gallery is present during a private showing of the piece. His sleuthing partner, “Nico” Collard, a French journalist who has appeared in the former titles, is also there. All of a sudden an armed gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet storms into the gallery, steals the painting, and shoots the curator dead. After he escapes, George and Nico do what they do best, investigate the murder and the theft while keeping the status of civilians.
As the game progresses, we find George and Nico diving deeper into a conspiracy. An ancient sect of religious outcasts known as the Gnostics has risen once again. George and Nico’s search for La Malediccio leads them back and forth from Paris to London, and eventually to another location (I don’t do spoilers!). All throughout their journeys they must solve puzzles, manipulate those who are standing in their way and work together to stop those who would use the knowledge contained in La Malediccio to hurt others. It really is a fantastic story.
A Keen Eye and Sharp Mind
The gameplay of this game is very reminiscent of the point-and-click titles of the 90’s. The player alternates between controlling both George and Nico, and as the story progresses we can see them coordinating their efforts with their own styles. George is impetuous and takes risks, while Nico is calm and uses her beauty and journalistic background to get closer to people and discover the truth from them. Both of our sleuths are able to pick up items that will later come in handy. Players will eventually use everything from a nail clipper to a packet of breath mints to solve puzzles. When interacting with other characters, George and Nico can sway the conversation by using options that open up based on what they observe or find. To say that one should “leave no stone unturned” in this game would be an understatement.
Some of the puzzles within this game are incredibly difficult to solve. That is part of the challenge of point-and-click adventures, especially those that are developed by Revolution. From rearranging letters on a neon kiosk sign to piecing together a torn up document, the puzzles will stump even the most intelligent of players. Many point-and-click purists will hate me for doing this, but I had to print out a walkthrough. The puzzles were taking too long for me to solve, so I needed help so that I could progress and write this review. If you want a challenge, I recommend you use your mind rather than the internet.
An Acquired Taste
It needs to be pointed out that this game is not going to be for everyone. These games are specifically designed to confuse and misdirect players; that is a big part of the challenge and fun. It may seem like the action is quite slow during gameplay. This is to give the player time to think, and possibly write down clues on a piece of paper. It is the ultimate test of a gamers endurance, and if you are up for it, the reward for discovering the mysteries held within the story is well worth it.
Even though I enjoy these types of games, there were places in Broken Sword 5 that even drove me nuts. There is one scene where George has to get around a cockroach that is scaring a lady he needs to talk to. George has to find a box of matches, dump out the matches, find a cracker, mash up the cracker, put it in the box, and then capture the roach. I felt as though I was being reduced to pest control. If you can soldier through moments like that then you will get to some great puzzles down the line.
With the game now being on the Nintendo Switch, I found that the best part of this port is the use of the touchscreen. This allows for George and Nico to investigate with just a touch of the screen. It is definitely a step up from the original drag-and-click interface.
The Final Verdict
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a point-and-click adventure that harkens back to the great titles that inspired it. Its puzzles are challenging, and completing them gives the player a great sense of accomplishment. If you want a true gaming challenge that will stretch your mind and endurance, then this is the game for you.
In light of all this, I give Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse for the Switch 8 French baguettes out 10. Keep in mind that you can always get a walkthrough to help you, but that would be cheating, and cheaters never prosper. Please…no pointing fingers.