Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (PC) Review

By Jamie Mercer 27.03.2016

Review for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars on PC

Way before Dan Brown released The Da Vinci Code and the world went mad for theological conspiracy works, Revolution Software released its own globe-trotting tale of religion, mystery, and intrigue - a title that is still held in such high regard that many call it a benchmark for other point-and-click adventures. The game? None other than Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Cubed3 kicks off its celebration of the Revolution Software 25th Anniversary with a look at the legendary adventure.

An American tourist, George Stobbart, is sat outside a café, whiling away time in a Parisian suburb, people-watching as he sips at his coffee. An elderly man walks in, shortly followed by a menacing accordion-wielding clown. Seconds later, George notices the clown making a hasty getaway - with the elderly man's briefcase! Before he can do anything, the café is obliterated by a gigantic blast. Thus begins George's journey to get to the bottom of the mystery. Who was the elderly gentleman, who was the clown, and why did he want him dead?

In the late '80s and early '90s, LucasArts dominated the adventure gaming market with SCUMM titles such as Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and Sam and Max Hit the Road. In 1992, Charles Cecil began researching the Knights Templar and, between releasing Lure of the Temptress and working on Beneath a Steel Sky, put an initial script together. Cecil wanted a departure from the humorous approach LucasArts adopted and instead wanted to create something more cinematic, as well as something a bit darker and more complex, and this shows throughout The Shadow of the Templars.

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars on PC

The opening credits feel like they have been taken straight from an animated feature and the gorgeous hand-drawn graphics - drawn in pencil and digitally coloured in Photoshop - give the game the same gravitas as the great Disney cartoons released during the same period. The background and foreground move independently, giving the game an incredible sense of depth while in motion, making the world come to life. The score is something else, too; epic, sweeping, and beautifully orchestrated, and the music adds to the atmosphere, creating ambience in each location on this pan-European adventure, making every new scene feel new and fresh.

Credit has to be given to the voice actors, with Rolf Saxon and Hazel Ellerby playing George and Nicole "Nico" Collard perfectly, with George's noir-esque narration driving the plot along at a pleasing pace. On the subject of Nico Collard, she's something of a rarity in videogames. She's sexy and sassy, without being overly sexualised. She's also smart and helps George get to the bottom of the mystery - without her help he would be left floundering at times. She's funny, incredibly sarcastic, and works as an ambitious journalist. All said, she's a well defined, fully realised female character - a true ally throughout this game (and future sequels) and it's just great to see women portrayed properly. In all fairness to the genre, this is something point and click adventure games have done very well throughout the years with April Ryan (The Longest Journey), Kate Walker (Syberia), and Elaine Marley (Monkey Island) to name but three.

That the story-telling is so strong through The Shadow of the Templars, it is somewhat disappointing that the puzzles often don't cut the mustard. They all fit with the theme and plot, using consistent logic, but can often fall into the trap of aimless "pixel-hunting." On the plus side, this is the only game to accurately portray Geordies correctly, something other media have struggled with more recently...

Screenshot for Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

A rich, complex, meandering story full of mystery and intrigue, Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars manages to weave religion, murder, and conspiracy into one very slickly presented package. The puzzles aren't the best example in the genre, but the story, visuals, and audio will leave a lasting effect, even after the closing credits. This was the title that brought Revolution Software out from the shadows of LucasArts and rightly into the limelight.

Developer

Revolution

Publisher

Virgin

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 Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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