Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 31.08.2015

Review for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent

Crowdfunding may have many flaws, but thanks to its existence, some classic and beloved gaming series have received revitalisations and resurrections. Shenmue 3 is finally happening, the spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie is arriving in Yooka-Laylee, Mega Man is getting reborn in Mighty Number 9 and now the latest in the Broken Sword series arrives after almost a decade. Broken Sword 5 first appeared as a Kickstarter back in 2012 where developer Revolution Software endeavoured to raise US$400,000 to fund the project. It reached that goal in two weeks, with the final sum of money actually being more than double the hoped goal. Originally released on PC as two episodes, with a cliffhanger between, in December 2013 and April 2014, respectively, with mobile and Vita versions as well, now the two episodes have been released together on the big screens of PS4 and Xbox One.

This latest Broken Sword finds series mainstays George and Nico returning to where their story first began - Paris. While Nico is still following her career as a reporter, George is again trying out a new role, now working as an Insurance Assessor. His latest job is insuring some art at a small gallery in Paris, with Nico on hand to cover the event. Typically for the pair, the simple job goes off the rails when an attempted robbery leads to a story of intrigue, conspiracy and murder. Suddenly the pair are globetrotting again, tracking down the killer, and embroiled in Dan Brown-esque supernatural and theological mysteries.

Screenshot for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse on PlayStation 4

The Serpent's Curse is completely faithful to the history and lineage of the series, with a real focus on the story, puzzles, and the artistic style. Charles Cecil, creator of the Broken Sword series and co-founder of Revolution Software, chose to use Kickstarter to help fund the title for this very reason. By not having a big studio controlling budgets or timescales, he was able to focus on creating what he believed players wanted, and it succeeds in doing that. The game returns to its roots with a 2D art style, using hand-drawn backgrounds painted to capture the feel of the numerous unique locales. The artists have made a really beautiful product - from the coffee shops of Paris to sun-drenched desert landscapes, each area is individual and stunning.

Being a point-and-click adventure, the core consists of puzzles. Adventure fans are given plenty of opportunities to mix and match the myriad of weird and wonderful inventory items with the obstacles of the world to attempt to proceed. The puzzles run the gambit from the quirky brainteasers to the maddeningly frustrating. Towards the start, the solutions are fairly simple, for example, an early riddle has a jammed shredder with rusty gears, and gamers can find a cotton bud in a drawer near a pool of oil on the floor in the room to fix things. However, later on, a puzzle example requires the figuring out of how a crushed jam sandwich, a cockroach in a matchbox, and the age old McGuyver favourite of a paper clip, can somehow fix a broken control panel to move a stuck cable-car. Some of these frustrating puzzles are the classic bane of adventure gamers' lives, with no logical solution, and the only way to progress is to try every item in the inventory against every item in the current area. Thankfully, these are few and far between and the puzzles that make up the end of the game are superb. Cypher breaking and logical thinking are required, with the solutions being just obtuse enough to pose a challenge.

Screenshot for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse on PlayStation 4

The painted backgrounds look gorgeous and each of the character models has been enhanced for smooth animations and crisps sprites, making the transition from PC smoothly. The console version comes with some new little features, too. None are particularly groundbreaking but instead serve to slightly enhance the overall experience. Along with the backgrounds and characters having been optimised to look sharper on their new high-resolution homes, little touches have been added to the environments to breathe more life into scenes. People walk the streets of Paris, birds fly in the sky, more animations to the background characters are given, and all of these small additions contribute toward the final product's class.

Another big issue in such a transition is, of course, the controls, with the game being built with mouse pointer controls in mind, meaning the move to a controller needs to be seamless, especially in a genre that was never designed for controllers in the first place. Thankfully, the controls are great, using the dual analogues to control the cursor and camera independently. Even better, the controller has a few neat features, such as the DualShock's built-in speaker. As in many PlayStation 4 titles, the speaker is used for in-game notifications, such as making chime noises when George stumbles onto a clue and also acts as the other end of the line when George or Nico are talking to someone on the phone. It's a nice touch to hear the voice from the other end of the line in the player's hands! There's also a new Gallery mode that shows off each of the cast members, both new and returning, with a blurb about each.

Screenshot for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse on PlayStation 4

Those new to the franchise will find the tone and performances quite jarring, as the lines are occasionally delivered in a deadpan and strange tongue-in-cheek style, evocative at points of the Tommy Wiseau's magnum opus, the best worst film of all time, The Room. This style is not something new with this latest title in the series, as it is a mainstay and actually one of the draws that fans enjoy. While it's a little off-putting to begin with, it grows on the player and contributes to the overall presentation. Newcomers will also be missing out on many of the inside jokes that are quite prevalent throughout - George finds a new goat to befriend, for example, and there are plenty of returning characters, plus Nico and George can't help but make jokes about their earlier adventures.

Screenshot for Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Telltale Games is well-loved for a reason, but it isn't for the puzzles. The puzzle aspect of adventure games has been well and truly missing from its latest releases. Therefore, it's great to see the old school point-and-click style make a return. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is a solid adventure game and a fantastic addition to the series, with some superb puzzles to crack and genuinely funny lines, although new players may find the game aims very much at its existing fan-base and may be better off trying out the earlier titles first.

Developer

Revolution Software

Publisher

Deep Silver

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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