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Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse

Score: 97%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Revolution Software
Developer: Revolution Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse throws George Stobbart and Nico Collard into yet another religion-centric mystery, but the Templars aren't involved this time around. Instead, a stolen painting leads the pair to uncover the secrets of the Gnostics, a Christian sect that was suppressed hundreds of years ago.

Broken Sword 5 goes back to the series' 2D roots, but there are times when it is clear that the 2D world is made up of 3D objects that only look right at the correct angle. A prime example of this is at the very beginning of the game when the camera zooms away from the painting that will cause all the trouble. The various items on the wall around it are distorted and stretched, but end up looking right when the camera settles in its proper place. This reminded me a lot of the sidewalk art you see pictures of that look real and 3D when seen at just the right angle.

Also, the characters themselves are full 3D models, and they always seemed to fit nicely in the scenes around them. While the look of George and Nico aren't exactly the same as the series' most recent 3D games, they are close and still look good.

I found the initial balance between the game's background music and dialogue to be off to the point where I couldn't really hear the conversations over the other sounds, but that was easy to adjust. The voice acting was well done and felt very fluid as I explored the various conversation tree options, while the game's other sounds and music gave a great ambiance to each of the locations George and Nico visited.


Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse starts off with a scene in Catalonia, Spain in the 1930's where a house is assaulted. In this scene, a father gives an amulet to his son before forcing the rest of his family to leave, and when the father is cornered and shot by the invaders, they steal a painting off of their wall. This painting is called la Malediccio and was created by a mysterious artist known as El Serp.

Fast forward to the present time and George is at an art gallery that his company is insuring. There he runs into Nico who is covering the showing for the newspaper where she works. The showing starts off fine, but soon someone posing as a pizza delivery man barges in and steals la Malediccio and kills the gallery's owner, Henri. George has to start investigating the scene soon before the local police show up because he knows he will be stonewalled and unable to examine anything after that. He soon discovers that the alarm for that painting, and only that painting, is disabled and that there were far more valuable pieces of art that could have been stolen.

Meanwhile, Nico runs out of the gallery and chases the killer in the hopes of getting a better view of him. When she returns to the gallery, she finds herself barred from entering as the local police have arrived at the scene and the bumbling Inspector Navoe has forbidden anyone from entering or leaving the building until his investigation is complete.

As is often the case in Broken Sword games, the game switches between both George and Nico as each proceeds with their own leads and then occasionally meet up in order to compare notes. In this case, George's investigations start with the security company that Henri hired, while Nico traces down the origins of the painting itself. When the two come up with an unexpected, and somewhat confusing, connection between the two,they have to investigate further. Their newest adventure will not only take them all around Paris, but also to London and, of course, Catalonia where everything started.


Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse seemed to be a straightforward adventure game where the solutions pretty much felt logical all the way through. There were a few occasions where I found myself unable to figure out how to proceed and resorted to just going through my inventory, but when I did work out the solution on those occasions, the answer seemed obvious in hindsight.

The game does have a built in Hint system that works pretty well, and I will admit to having to use it once or twice. For instance, there is a point where you have to distract a character (actually, this is something you have to do often in Broken Sword 5), but I couldn't quite figure out what would do the trick. A quick consulting of the Hint option later made me realize I did know and have everything I needed to proceed.

Game Mechanics:

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is one of the smoothest point-and-click adventure ports I've seen on a console. I find most games that try to convert to a controller either abandon as much point-and-click as they can, or the controls just don't feel right. That isn't the case with The Serpent's Curse.

The cursor felt smooth and precise as I moved from the various points of interest, and the scenes were designed well enough that I never felt like I would have to pixel hunt across the screen in order to find some illusive hot spot. The game's inventory is quick to pull up and select. I found that a really nice tweak was that the selected inventory item could easily be applied to other items in your collection by going left or right with a nice snapping motion, but if you wanted to apply it to something in the world, then moving the item away from the inventory box was just as smooth and easy to handle. This really showed a nice subtle layer of usability that adds a little extra to the game.

The game also keeps to an icon-based system when talking to characters. Instead of dialogue options written on the screen that might be hard to read on different sized TVs or at different distances, having a picture of the people or items that you might want to discuss makes for a much clearer way to convey the possible topic of discussion. I believe this was the same in the versions of The Serpent's Curse before this port, but it still speaks of good design, and I'm sure it helped with the various languages this game was released in as well.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is a solid adventure game that any fan of the genre should check out. If you've already got it for one of the other platforms it was released on, then there really isn't a reason for getting it on the Xbox One, but if you, for whatever reason, weren't able to enjoy it before, this release is solid and fun.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Related Links:

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