Point and Click games were a dying breed but they gradually started to resurrect with the rise of indie game development and Kickstarter. Broken Sword is an aging classic IP that has received many games released across a variety of platforms. My fondest memories from the series were arguably one of the weirdest because I played it on the Game Boy Advance. I remember it was the second Broken Sword game, however, the story was intriguing and towed you in with a mysterious plot that compelled you to keep playing.
Broken Sword franchise has seen five major releases on a range of platforms, but the fifth entry took a long time to get released, almost 10 years. This was a long time for the series to go on a hiatus and while the result speaks for itself, I felt like it was lacking the charm and purpose from the earlier games. The writing appears weaker now, and the opening is relatively tame if we talk about a comparison to other mainline entries.
The weak opening of Broken Sword 5 feels like a disappointment but once you achieve some progress in the story, it can get intriguing, slowly uncovering each mystery, presenting a new twist and keeping you guessing the motivation and purpose of each character. It is the story here that ultimately ends up on a high note and therefore establishes this as another decent entry in the franchise.
The main plot deals with the theft of a ‘cursed’ painting that leads to a murder of the owner of an art gallery. George Stobbart and Nicole Collard both make their return in this sequel and end up being on the crime scene establishing the case of them solving another mystery. They are conceivably the oddest couple in a video game because they stumble upon so many of these kinds of murder stories throughout their journey. This case is no extraordinary, and you will promptly find out that this painting holds a rather dark and sinister past.
While I enjoyed the story, the gameplay was something that never managed to sit that well with me. While the game looks amazing and sports modern visuals that still look great aside from the animations, the controls feel like they are taken directly from something developed in the past. When characters communicate, the dialogue delivery is rather slow and tests your patience even if there is voice acting added. The ability to skip them rapidly is not there, therefore, forcing you to wait for each character to end their line before you can continue with the next one.
This continues on with the way the character moves and interacts with the world. You direct them with a cursor mapped to the analog stick — or in the case of the Nintendo Switch in the handheld mode — additional controls are available for the touchscreen. The issue is in how commands get executed which is a deliberate grueling process. To execute an action, your character leisurely walks from one location to the next leading to a tiresome loop if you try figuring out a puzzle that requires you to find and match objects. There is no option to run or swiftly get to the adjacent location so it will soon become a chore to carry out even the most simple commands.
Naturally, you would think some of the issues with the controls could be fixed with the touch support, but this isn’t the case here. You can touch at any point on the screen to obtain the same effect but the slow-walking speed of the characters remains, and each interaction is still painfully sluggish so I didn’t really end up utilizing them that much as I had hoped. This is a welcome little bonus to have here and honestly, the game truly shines in the portable mode with both touchscreen and JoyCon support, you can combine both together to obtain the definitive experience out of the game, at least on a console.
The one thing where Broken Sword 5, nonetheless, manages to shine is with the puzzles, again well designed and integrated into the game’s world. They will cause you to carefully think and analyze about objects that you can interact with, but if you get stuck, they can also irritate you if you are unable to figure them out. It is possible to get by trial and error but it is a cumbersome process so if you can follow the tips that the game cleverly throws at your character, the puzzles are easily finished without resorting to any outside help. There is no bigger satisfaction than figuring out a challenging puzzle on your own.
The other contemporary features included for the Nintendo Switch version are a set of bonus videos that give you a behind the scenes view of the development for the game. These are nice little extras that will unlock once you fulfill certain objectives during the story and can go back to the main menu to view them. Once more, this is nothing groundbreaking but still worth mentioning here.
The visuals in Broken Sword are reasonably good. The art style makes it look like you are engaging in an old-school game with pre-rendered backgrounds but it is full 3D with refined cell-shaded graphics to support it. The 3D models of George and Nicole retain their classic look and there are many recurring characters featured in the story. All things considered, it is a nice adventure game recommend for fans of the series, but it doesn’t come close to some of the most enjoyable work of the developers.
Broken Sword 5 – the Serpent’s Curse Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is the fifth title in the Broken Sword series of adventure video games, developed and published by Revolution Software, for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation Vita, Android and iOS.
Final Score - 7/10
Broken Sword 5 features a story that slowly uncovers but leaves you hanging for more and a plot that is grand but equally simple enough to grasp. The puzzles are once more the highlight here, but the controls will take some time to get used to, and even then, they are not that extraordinary.