I grew up with point and click graphic adventure games such as ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’, ‘Full Throttle, ‘Grim Fandango’ and so many more. I was in love with the story telling and humour but most of all the puzzle solving of investigating a location, looking for clues and working out what found items could be used to clear an obstacle. Since those days the genre has evolved into the episodic style of TellTale games series ‘The Wolf Among Us’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ where player choice helps blend the tradition gameplay of point and click games into something new.
One series that dates back to the 90s has always stuck to the original format and now releasing on Playstation 4 and Xbox One, is ‘Broken Sword 5: A Serpent’s Curse’ from Revolution who made one of my favourite titles ‘Beneath a Steel Sky’. But can its old school gameplay style still appeal in 2015?
It was first released as two episodes for PC back over 2013/14 and has been merged together for its console release with some improvements made to audio and animation. The story sees series main hero characters George Stoppard and Nicole Collard reunited by a chance meeting in a Parisian gallery which the Insurance company George works for is covering. All of a sudden a man dressed as a pizza delivery guy bursts in, steals a painting and shoots the gallery curator dead before escaping with Nicole giving chase. The mystery begins!
With painted backdrops and 3D character models, visually Broken Sword 5 sticks to what is instantly recognisable from the series which fans were in distant on during the Kicksarter process. As a result the player is eased gently back into its world. Each location you visit is beautifully drawn and encourages you to explore every aspect both to look for clues but to also appreciate the level of detail the game artists have drawn into the game. The character models are also very meticulously drawn to embody their personality even before you interact with them, the animation can look a little clumsy at times but this is all part of the traditional point and click game style so whilst it did not bother me, new players to the game may find it a little odd.
The voice acting keeps the original talent for George and Nicole and their personalities remain the same with Nicole determined and brave whilst George is charming and prone to add some sarcastic humour to situations and dialogue. However for the other characters you come into contact with through the story, the quality can be hit and miss with some of the delivery feeling very cliché and over the top which for me compelled me to skip lines of conversation just to get it over with.
What was a surprise to me was just how natural the control system felt on a controller as very used to a mouse and keyboard. The left analogue stick controls the cursor used to interact with the environment and the right stick will move the screen to show more of the area. Two simple options of Examine or use make the interaction smooth and simple whilst the inventory showing collected items is quick to access for puzzle solving. It also makes clever use of the DS4 touch pad which can also be used to control the cursor much like a Laptop touchpad.
Of course the bread and butter of any point and click game is the puzzles. Broken Sword 5 has a mixture of puzzle styles from the traditional find correct object(s) to solve it or through dialogue exchanges with characters to learn information that will help find the solution. It is key to explore every inch of a location by moving the cursor around to find what can be interacted with, which can be time consuming. This is also a factor when puzzles involve dialogue exchanges which can be long and drawn out with some of the voice acting making it feel like a real drag at times. If you find yourself stuck on a puzzle, the game has a great hint system that will give you clues to the solution and will give more of a hint the more you ask until finally revealing what you need to do if really lost. This allows the player to always move forward in the game.
Broken Sword 5: A Serpent’s Curse is a nostalgic revisit to a genre of gaming rarely seen this days with its nods back to an era where taking your time with a game was key to the experience. However it’s slow pace may be off putting to players now used to having some action thrown into the mix such as QTE events in episodic games. The story is rich and problem solving rewarding but the drawn out character dialogue and cliché characters can impede the flow at times.
This is a game that requires time and patience and will appeal to fans of the series and those who perhaps grew up with this more traditional genre. I enjoyed revisiting this style of play but did find that the pace did test my resolve at times. The adventures of George and Nico still have a place in this generation of gaming!
*A review copy was provided for PS4, also available on PC, Xbox One and mobile devices