Between funding bearded people’s love lives and that proposed Thomas the Tank Engine RPG (swear down, it’d be great), Kickstarter is responsible for some dire shit. But, you know what, one thing that does get people reaching into their e-wallets is nostalgia. So, when Revolution Software reached funding for a new instalment in the Broken Sword franchise, parts of our brain that had been dormant since Jet from Gladiators and Ugly Kid Joe’s ‘Everything About You’ suddenly sparked back alight.
A classic graphic adventure from genuine stalwarts of the industry! Broken Sword was one of the point ‘n’ click highlights of the mid-90s, rightfully sitting alongside Sierra and LucasArts’ finest. And let’s not forget Revolution were also responsible for dystopian 1984-esque future adventure Beneath a Steel Sky. So, what could go wrong?
Ultimately, nothing! Broken Sword V: The Serpent’s Curse arrived in late 2013 for PC, Mac and PS Vita. Segmented into episodes, its first bout was met with muted response as the wave of nostalgia that had sailed its way into our hands quickly dribbled through our fingers when the reality of a stodgy, classic point ‘n’ click on this generation of hardware turned out to be not that good. However, its latter portion was a reminder of just how engrossing large scale graphic adventuring could be.
So, now, it’s with actual joy that we can play it through again on PS4 and Xbox One, a little bit less tainted by the excitement of reliving our youth. Not a lot has changed from the initial 2013 release, except that it’s all slammed together into one package like a proper old 90s release and you don’t need 12 diskettes to run it.
Recognisable protagonists, George Stobbart and Nico Collard, find themselves thrown immediately (as usual) into a world of art theft and murder as a mysterious painting is stolen from a gallery in Paris, leading to a murder investigation. Cue lots of nostalgia-laden clicking, backed up by aged, laborious animations that linger a little too long between conversations and undermine the beautifully hand-painted backdrops of its leafy and luscious locations.
Lateral puzzling and confined locations in its early hours leads to some dull gameplay that sees you guiltily abusing the hint mechanic, but as the scope of the game widens to the series’ familiar globe-trotting scale, the puzzles become far more involving and rewarding.
The simple story that spirals into complex and interesting scenarios through careful unveiling of characters is pretty great and manages to leverage enough of point ‘n’ click adventuring’s tongue-in-cheek dialogue to keep it feeling the right side of the 90s.
It won’t be long before you’re engrossed enough in it to get that familiar nostalgic kick you used to get as you sat at your Amiga pumping hours into Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. And, for those with that ammunition in their memory banks, this is a shining example of adventure gaming’s past glories. But, there are absolutely no new ideas here. Its static camera and 2D puzzling tick all the right boxes for those pixel-hunting for past, but its painfully slow pace is the result of dated mechanics rather than narrative choice. Newcomers to the series would be best advised to start from 1996’s original title and work forward rather than join in here, but it’s a legitimate jump-on point too.
Broken Sword 5 isn’t perfect, but when it comes to this particular resurgence of adventure gaming, there are fewer safer hands than Revolution. Now, where’s Beneath a Steel Sky 2?
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is available now for PS4, PSV, Xbox One, PC and Mac.