Broken Sword Retrospective

There is something to be said about who perfected a concept or an idea. It is easy to point at Sierra as the father of point-and-clicks, but I would also argue that LucasArts tried to be more lenient with its setup with no cruel deaths and giving the player some space to breathe. However, while Revolution had a rocky start with Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky, they still showed that they wanted to make something to combine their greatest efforts, into something to call their own. 

This brilliant idea came from Charles Cecil and his team at Revolution. Cecil had begun developing an interest in the stories of the Templars, and started doing research for both the historical events, as well as film-writing to make a script that was more mature and relatable. Speaking of, it was important for him to establish a tone that would work for fans of the old point-and-clicks, but also appeal to newcomers. Because of this, we got the American George who was funnier with his dialogue, and the French Nicole who had a more serious tone, giving the game the possibility to combine two styles.

This was all coated using the Virtual Theatre engine, and with the help from Eogghan Cahill and Neil Brenn from Don Bluth studios for backgrounds, and Mike Burgess as animator. Adding Barrington Pheoloung to score the game, it is easy to see that Revolution really wanted to live up to its name. However, this was more important due to the competition. Point-and-clicks had a solid foot in the game-market, but the competition was at a high, and the first Broken Sword needed to succeed with all it had. And it did.

The lore and brainteasers

Probably one of the rather impressive aspects of Broken Sword as a series, is that it always stayed within its mystery-setup. While not all were point-and-clicks, they all had a focus on puzzles and an adventure-style setup. It gave every game a sense of scope, with discovering something bigger than them that was rooted in historical or religious knowledge. It makes it quite the intriguing setup with lore that is actually linked to real events. While I cannot say that every instalment succeeded, there was always an attempt at making puzzles inviting with clear setups and hints on how to do something, as none went to the moon-logic you would see in more fantasy-related titles. 

George as a main-character is also just a wonderful man, with witty one-liners and a charm it is hard to not smile at. He is simply the good guy who knows a solid joke, adding to the tradition of funny commentators in point-and-clicks. In fact, the humour overall is great, and it makes it clear that while this is a brainteaser in terms of story and gameplay, it also wants the player to simply have fun! It is also difficult to not gush over the art style, as it is iconic with strong and vibrant colours, and despite that the fourth game takes on a darker tone, it still shines with a good attempt at making it more mature.

The awkward turns and problems with 3D

You might have already seen my hate for the third game in the series, so I will not spend too much time on it, besides saying that the point-and-click genre had a strange midlife-crisis in the early 2000s, and Broken Sword was not saved from this. A lot of that was also due to the uncomfortable 3D transition, and even in the days of PS2, things were far from perfect when it came to controls. It even made walking feel like a chore.

What also was severely strange, was how Nicole dwindled as a protagonist more and more by each instalment, which confused me. A good female protagonist was something to boast about, and having someone stick out and be a great contrast to George, was a phenomenal idea! Similar to a good detective-series, where you have a more strict partner, and a rebel working together, with backgrounds that can relate to a grander audience. Alas, she simply became the second fiddle.

Broken, but still sharp? 

While it was nice that Broken Sword got a revival of sorts after the clunky 3D-era, I honestly do not know if there is a reason to see the series continue. Broken sword 5 was a step in the right direction, but when you have 2 classics that are hard to live up to and with how tired the series seems at this point, it goes without saying that you might as well just end it now. You need more than just referencing the older titles and following trends to stand strong. 

However, if Broken Sword 5 is a showcase for the groundwork that can be built upon, I might want to see a Broken Sword 6, though I suppose I will know more when I see their take on a sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky. Until then, just play Broken Sword 1 and 2 for some fantastic adventures, and unlike in the early 2000s, the point-and-click genre is far from dead these days with plenty of options. Might I recommend Machinarium, Samorost or Thimbleweed Park?

Published by Slionr

A guy who likes to talk about video games and loves tabletop gaming. You can always follow me on twitter: @GSlionr

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