Should I Buy? – Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars


Made by Revolution Software of Beneath A Steel Sky fame, Broken Sword is a series of point-n-click adventure games for the PC that first came along in the final days of the genre.

Now that games could be longer and have more powerful engines driving them, point-n-click was lost in the wave of new stuff like Tomb Raider and Wipeout. The shift from crazy weird stuff that both the genre and the medium had revelled in in its past to more serious stuff was also seen here. Templars lacks a lot of that overt, surreal humour of games like Monkey Island or Day of the Tentacle. That’s not to say it isn’t funny, humour just takes a back seat in more plot heavy, character driven iteration of the genre.

The premise of Templarsis that you play as George Stobbart, an American tourist visiting Paris who is caught in an explosion at a cafe. Being understandably curious, you begin to poke around and begin to unravel a sinister plot that threatens the world. But you do so by using your brains, not brawn. The old marketing for the game and even the case itself proudly boasted that you saved the world without a single punch thrown or shot fired. George himself is never stupid, arrogant or patronising because he’s American. Instead he’s the perfect straight man to the eccentric cast.

The story will take you all over Europe, with some affectionately stereotypically accented people to encounter. Rather than play on the stereotypical behaviours of the country though, the people you meet are each given their own unique quirks that makes them strange and memorable. Well, except the other American tourists you encounter.

Unlike Sky this game foregoes big intellectual themes for historical intrigue in its plot and larger than life lunacy for subtle eccentricity in its characters. This works very well, the game’s humour is perfectly balanced against the seriousness of the plot.

The puzzles are more grounded in real world logic too. None of that “use wax lips of yak” stuff. This more cohesive logic to the game’s puzzles also cuts out a lot of the frustration of getting stuck, as ‘blind luck’ and ‘use everything on everything else’ are joined by ‘think it through’ in the stable of adventure game puzzle solving tools.

The game is simply gorgeous to look at, the character models aren’t particularly amazing, but the style in which they’re rendered means they’ve barely aged a day and the pre-rendered back drops are achingly pretty. The music feels like some kind of exquisite mix between game and film score styles, and work well with the rest of the game to make this feel like a huge, sprawling and progressing adventure.

The Director’s Cut is now available for multiple formats and adds new puzzles and a side-plot involving your eventual partner Nicole Colard, and French photojournalist with a sexy accent that helps tie her into the plot and develop her character. Though the new sections are visually very apparent, the puzzles blend well with the others in the game and it’s a nice addition.

There are some problems I have with the Director’s Cut though, a lot of the random, unimportant items you could click on for humorous lines or general atmosphere are gone and there’s a few changes to the art that aren’t a huge deal but bug me. If you’re that fussed, you can get the original and the Director’s Cut editions from gog.com with a few other nice bonuses.

This game is basically what you’d get if Dan Brown was a competent writer that checks his facts. This is a good length, enjoyable and challenging adventure. It’s so widely available these days there’s almost no reason not to check it out on some format.

Price: (CEX) £2 PC
£8 Wii Director’s Cut
£3.50 Broken Sword Trilogy PC
£5 DS Director’s Cut

(Steam) £4.99 Director’s Cut
£9.99 Broken Sword Trilogy

(gog.com) $5.99 Director’s Cut
(NOTE: This is the only digitally available way buy the original version legally, it’s bundled in with the Director’s Cut.)

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. themickanator
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 21:48:04

    I’ve got Broken sword 1 – 4 (which I think is all of them) and I couldn’t finish them. 1 and 2 are amazing and loved them, but 3 and 4 don’t quite work in 3D. Also mum insisted on playing them with me, which made the whole thing a lot slower :S

    Reply

  2. Mitch Allan
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 18:42:56

    Ah, the Director’s Cut has some of the humour taken out? Ack, now I have to play through that one too…
    Have to agree, the eccentricities of this game are really charming. I always find all the little character George runs into highly endearing. And George is such a wonderfully un-annoying lead character.
    Very, very fun – and like you say, sensible puzzles, thank God.

    Reply

  3. jackcalico
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 20:30:40

    Just a lot of the incidental humour. It does all stuff like a diary so you don’t boot up the game after a few months and forget everything.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror « buythatgame
  5. Graciela
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 08:52:41

    I played the first game a few months ago and LOVED it. Just started the second one (I bought the triple pack, just haven’t had time till now to play last 2) and it’s looking pretty amazing too.

    Wish they made games like this now. It may be just point and click, but it’s a whole lot of fun 🙂

    Reply

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