Reviewed by Emma Rees
It’s been almost 5 years since Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse first made its debut on multiple platforms. Split into 2 episodes, the first part was released December 2013, whereas the second part was released April 2014. In 2015 it released on the PS4 and Xbox One. Fast forward to today, in 2018, and Broken Sword 5 is finding a home on the Nintendo Switch in full 1080p and the ability to play on the Switch’s touchscreen. Also, exclusive to the Switch version, are unlockable bonus videos which show the making of the game.
Those who are familiar with the series will recognise the two main protagonists, Nico Collard and George Stobbart. There are other familiar faces who turn up in the game, but if you happen to be new to the series you don’t need to have played the previous games to understand The Serpent’s Curse; it has its own mystery and the characters have small biographies for you to read which also tell you which game they first made an appearance. Just bear in mind that by starting with the most recent entry in the series, you will miss out on some humorous in-jokes and references. Either way, the unlucky duo can’t seem to catch a break. This time around, George and Nico meet by chance in Paris and immediately find themselves witness to the violent theft of a painting, then to a murder. Throwing themselves into the investigation, they soon end up travelling all over the world to unravel an ancient and lethal conspiracy that threatens the whole of mankind.
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse, plays like a classic point-and-click adventure. You play as George 95% of the time and choose where you want him to walk by using the cursor; the same way you select objects of interest. To prevent having to walk to a part of the room or street to see if there is anything to examine, you can pan the camera around the entire area, which you’ll probably find yourself using a lot. A very annoying issue, though, is only being able to move at the pace of a leisurely walk, particularly when you’re repeatedly moving from one side of a room to the other. It isn’t enough to ruin the game, but it does waste a lot of time. Using the touchscreen is a cinch because all you need to do to swap control modes is touch the screen. You are then presented with a new, clean interface perfect for the touch controls. Playing using the touchscreen is smooth and responsive, but if you fancy switching back to using the Joy-cons, all you do is press a button on the Joy-Con for the interface to change back. It’s that simple. That being said, some of the puzzles feel more suited to the touch controls and feel a little clunky when you are trying to be precise with the cursor.
Exploring the environments is awe-inspiring because everything looks stunning, especially on a HDTV in full 1080p. The hand-drawn backgrounds are breath-taking, and the colourful 3D sprites on the 2D backgrounds work in unison to create vibrant and picturesque locations. The world is not always totally static, either, because there are sometimes things going on in the background such as people walking by or birds pecking at the ground.
The narrative is short but gripping, so you may find that you end up completing it in one or two sittings depending on how long it takes you to solve the puzzles and how long you spend presenting objects just for a response. Originally, Broken Sword 5 was split into two episodes but has since been combined into one continuous experience. The second half of the game is distinguishable from the first, however, as it has much more obscure puzzle solutions that will require you trying out every item on every object and making absurd combinations in your inventory to make new objects. It doesn’t become frustrating, though, because there are so many humorous interactions that you’ll probably find yourself doing that, anyway; the cockroach is particularly entertaining to show to everyone. Characters are written in such a quirky and interesting way that it’s often worth it to interact with them more than once.
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a trip down memory lane for Point-and Click fans, with some welcome improvements. The adventure is worth checking out, both for series veterans and for newcomers who are fans of the genre.
Publisher: Revolution Software
Developer: Revolution Software
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4, IOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Release Date: Out Now
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