Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse (PS4) - ReviewJoseph Trotter , posted on 23 October 2015 / 5,142 Views
Broken Sword has long been at the vanguard of point-and-click adventure genre since the series’ first outing in 1995. The advent of smartphones has given the genre a new lease of life, harnessing the touch potential of such devices to tremendous effect. As the genre has recovered, so too has Broken Sword. After the fantastic Shadow of the Templars and Smoking Mirror, which were revered for their fluid gameplay and distinctive artistic styles, an attempt was made to transition Broken Sword into a fully 3D adventure with The Sleeping Dragon and a fusion of point-and-click in a 3D world in The Angel of Death.
Neither of these proved successful, either critically or commercially. One could have been forgiven for thinking the series was over. That is until a successful Kickstarter campaign resulted in the launch of The Serpent’s Curse in two episodes, the first of which was released in December 2013 for PC.
Nearly two years later, we find ourselves here with a budget priced PS4 version of the same game. Having not played The Serpent’s Curse on any other format, I will review it as though fresh on the PS4. The developers, Revolution Software, made the sensible decision to revert back to a 2D styled point-and-click adventure that uses pseudo-3D characters on hand-drawn pre-rendered backgrounds.
The result is a marvel. Undeniably the game’s biggest draw, the graphics are striking, charming and hugely effective in drawing the player into the melodic pace. Backgrounds are beautifully drawn, while the characters show more individuality than entire rosters in other games. The voice acting is likewise excellent, as is the script.
Some, however, may find the pace a little too easy. The plot, involving a pan-European adventure to solve the murder of an art gallery owner called Henry and the theft of an unassuming painting, La Maladiccio, is, if we are being kind, a slow-burner. A more critical voice would suggest it takes an age to get into and even longer to get going.
Nothing happens quickly in The Serpent’s Curse, and this may be a deal breaker for many. In a gaming world where everything appears to rattle along at break-neck speed (crash, boom, wallop, etc.) it is refreshing to see a game that refuses to be rushed. Whether it is successful or not depends on your patience levels, although some content could fairly be accused of being filler.
For the most part, however, the narrative is plausible and interesting, with the two leads, George and Nico, making interesting companions. This is a point-and-click adventure in the most traditional sense; talk to characters, find objects, throw them together and move onto the next scene. The Serpent’s Curse is initially easy, but towards the end it morphs into a more devilish beast.
Although never hugely difficult, any players who do get stuck can rely on an over-exuberant hint system. It is less a hint system and more ‘point out the obvious’, forcing the answer upon the player rather than giving them a gentle nudge towards the correct answer. Perhaps Revolution Software might wish to look up what hint actually means next time.
What The Serpent’s Curse does well, it does very well. Albeit slow, this is an absorbing adventure of twists, memorable characters, and excellent turns. It looks mesmerising; indeed the graphics are a marvel. Involving, if at times perhaps too keen to handhold, The Serpent’s Curse has the intrigue of a novel and the sedateness of an afternoon stroll. An acquired taste undeniably, but one worth trying.
This review is based on a retail copy of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent\\\'s Curse for the PS4, provided by the publisher.