Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse – Review

BrokenSword5SerpentsCurseI just finished the second half of the fifth Broken Sword title. If you need a reminder of my initial thoughts on the first half, you can read the previous blog on the subject. Also, if you want a more detailed review of the first three games as well as the horrendous fourth one, I’ll link to my YouTube videos or you can just check the review histories at the bottom.

Over all, I really enjoyed the game, though it was definitely a little rough around the edges.

Gameplay: 4/5 – The gameplay was intentionally designed to be similar to the first two games and as such it was fine. There were moments where it felt like George or Nico didn’t respond to my clicks, but this rarely held me up. The only thing which annoyed me was not being able to click on inventory items while walking which was a bit of an odd touch. Other than that, it’s a point and click game and I’m at least happy that Revolution didn’t unnecessarily complicate the gameplay in any way.

Graphics: 4/5 – The pre-rendered and cell-shaded character models blended together well (akin to Runaway: The Road Adventure) and the backgrounds were detailed and the locations interesting. There were some occasional overlay issues and I also have to lob half a point off for one rather rubbish dream sequence, but beyond that the game’s graphic look was quite spot on.

Animation: 4/5 – In all seriousness, the animations weren’t anything special for much of the game, but they run smoothly and do their job mostly well. There’s a particularly funny/odd bug towards the end which involves fig throwing. However, special cutscenes with multiple angles were handled mostly well and the game’s finale was really impressive which bumped the score up a bit in my book.

Music: 4,5/5 – Barrington Pheloung makes his return scoring the music and admittedly the soundtrack is very rich and well-produced. There are a few very obviously recycled pieces from the first two games, but honestly it didn’t bother me that much, although wholly new material would have been preferred. Extra points for the hilariously catchy 70s pop song at the crux of the story.

Sound: 4/5 – Revolution did apparently bring back some old voice talent from prior games (both actual instalments and special editions) though to my regret I didn’t recognise most of them. Rolf Saxon of course delivers his narration of the adventure with style and I really didn’t have any complaints on anyone else’s voices either.

Difficulty: From Easy to Hard – Like the majority of titles in the series, The Serpent’s Curse has a very light touch with its puzzles to the point where most of them require little to no thought to solve. Thankfully, in the first half of the game there are a few puzzles which require a bit of brain work to keep the whole thing from feeling like a cakewalk. In the second half of the game, the puzzles actually got quite challenging and even required a little bit of meta-knowledge (I had to remind myself how to read music in one instance) and one deciphering puzzles in particular broke me so badly that I had to resort to the game’s hint-system. What’s surprising is how these harder puzzles sprung from nowhere, but I think more bona fide adventure game fans should be pleased (were it not for the game’s otherwise leisurely difficulty elsewhere).

Plot: 3,5/5 – I felt incredibly torn over the plot of the game. The first half made it feel quite interesting. You really don’t have a clue who the real bad guy is for the longest time and there’s enough interesting character development and background to the game’s mystery that it keeps you invested through the game’s admittedly leisurely start. Once the game starts to get closer to its final act though, it starts to feel like it’s retracing a lot of old steps from adventure games past, Broken Sword and others (*cough*GabrielKnight*cough*). I mean who hasn’t heard of the persecution of the Cathars at this point, seriously? The game comes back around at the very end which pleased me, but the latter half of the game seems like it was written with rather harsh tunnel vision, whereas I liked the mystery of the first half a lot better. Warning spoilers: It’s unfortunate that the majority of the interesting characters stop playing a part after the first half, either due to being killed or for not having much to do with the rest of the game. Eva, Ramon and Langham honestly just weren’t interesting characters, Langham being particularly pompous and a dick. When they brought up Eden out of blue, I was beginning to think the plot was headed to some very shady territory, but thankfully Revolution wasn’t being as literal as I first feared.

Score: 80% – The Serpent’s Curse really delivers in all the basic areas it promises, it’s a fun, mostly well-written, mostly easy yet at times challenging adventure game experience. It sets up a great story for itself which perhaps just doesn’t quite hold up to the very end, but still keeps you invested through the majority of the game. It’s biggest problems really relate to the fact that it is the fifth game of a series. There’s a lot of humour and internal references in the game which wont make any sense if you haven’t played the prior instalments and this is a little unfair for new players who will be in the dark about the character connections. Also, the game apes the first two games a lot but isn’t necessarily better and, like Broken Sword 2, it could have used a bit more polishing in certain parts. Still, a pretty rewarding experience over all.