The Broken Sword game series has been around for quite a while; almost twenty years now actually. After all those years and five entries the game has strayed very little from its point and click adventure roots. The latest entry, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse, is no different. Although the visuals look sharp and sound design is up to par with any other new game, there is no mistaking that this game’s roots are buried firmly in the past and the game — in addition to the players — is better for it.
Like any Broken Sword title, the game revolves around a multi-layered and entertaining mystery. This outing involves a stolen painting, murder, and of course, plenty of supernatural twists. Series regulars George Stobbart and Nico Collard are smack in the center again along with an impressive array of entertaining, hilarious, and dangerous characters. George is as smart aleck and funny as ever, and Nico is a breath of fresh air for female video game characters. She is strong, capable, and independent without feeling the need to constantly remind everyone that she is strong, capable, and independent. All the other characters are as equally entertaining with a nice array of newcomers, as well as some surprising cameos from past characters. Every development in the story reveals more depth to the mystery and introduces the player to more people who may or may not be friendly. It’s all part of the fun of unraveling the mystery and finding out who fits in where and how. Storytelling has always been a strength of the Broken Sword series and this entry is no different. If the point and click style of gameplay isn’t enough to keep you engaged, then the thrilling mystery just might be.
Of course, that old style adventure gameplay might just be a little too much to take for some people. While companies like Telltale Games have brought adventure games back to the forefront by streamlining the experiences and removing most of the puzzle elements, Broken Sword clings to the old tropes almost religiously. Your enjoyment of this game will hinge directly on your enjoyment of this old-school style that many other game companies have left by the way side. I, for one, enjoyed the return to form and reveled in my chance to crack some truly head scratching puzzles. Most of the time I found that the solutions were much simpler than I was making it, but there were a few moments of frustration that I experienced.
In classic adventure game style, you have to investigate pretty much everything in the environment and then combine certain elements to solve a puzzle. Some of these solutions were quite obscure and even when I put it together I had to admit that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. While some of the solutions are staring you right in the face, other boil down to you obsessively clicking on every conceivable object in your inventory until something finally works. It gets the job done, but I never felt smart for solving these riddles; just lucky. Fortunately, these are the exception to the rule and most of the puzzles are fun and engaging if you just do a little thinking. There’s also a helpful hint system in the menu if you don’t want to resort to internet walkthroughs.
Broken Sword 5 is a welcome return to a classic franchise that fans will be thankful to jump back into. While it doesn’t create any new problems on its own, it also doesn’t fix any of the old ones that these sorts of games have become known for. These minor annoyances won’t bother everyone though, as I know that there are scores of people who just love the sort of obscure puzzle solving that this series affords. If you’re one of those people, then you should definitely check this little gem out. I’ve had a lot of experiences in video games that stick with me, but at one point in this title I was given the challenge of dressing myself up to resemble a drunk woman’s deceased husband in an effort to get her to engage in a disco style dance with me. Now, if that doesn’t sound fun to you, then I suggest you check yourself for a pulse.
A PS4 code for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse was provided by Revolution Software for the purpose of this review.
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