Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

Dan Webb

Thanks to the rise of digital distribution, the last few years have seen a resurgence for the classic point-and-click adventure game. Tim Schafer's got in on the act, as has fellow Monkey Island alum Ron Gilbert, but as far as resurgences go, it wouldn't be one without Charles Cecil and Revolution Software, having had great success over the last twenty-odd years with Beneath a Steel Sky and Broken Sword. Now, after a more than ten year absence, Broken Sword is back on home consoles.

It’s not an all-new Broken Sword affair for consoles, mind, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is effecitvely a remastering of the recent iOS, PC and Vita (and other platforms) release from back in 2013, and at times, it feels a lot like a port. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Broken Sword 5 sees the dynamic duo, George Stobbart and Nico Collard return to uncover yet another conspiracy, this time revolving around the death of an art gallery owner and the theft of a painting, La Maledicció. As you’d expect from a Broken Sword game, The Serpent’s Curse boasts a gripping story, one with twists and turns galore, none of them too surprising, and plenty of history to boot.

Players unfamiliar with the series won’t feel too out of their depth when playing The Serpent’s Curse thanks to its standalone nature, while veterans of the franchise will surely recognise more than a few of the recurring characters, whether you’re talking about the zany Hendersons or the even zanier Lady Piermont, there’s plenty of cameos to revel in. Regardless, it’s a good point to jump in, should you choose to, and at no point will you feel lost.

With religion and the tragic events of the past at the forefront of the game, Revolution has done an excellent job in not being too po-faced with it all, instead opting for humour not only in its script and its characters, but in its puzzles as well. From a puzzles perspective, sometimes they’re a little too nonsensical and jovial, which can be fun and equally frustrating at the same time. Not only that, but sometimes said conundrums try to be a little too clever for their own good sometimes, with their solutions teetering too close to the edge of logic.

That said, for the most part, the puzzles are a complete joy. There are some funny ones, with simple outcomes, and on the other hand, there're some real mind-benders that involve using the ol’ nous to its full potential. Don’t worry though, if you get stuck there’s a hint feature in the game, but as a bit of friendly advice, I’d only use it when you’re truly stuck, otherwise it can zap the fun right out of the game.

While Broken Sword 5 might be an enjoyable romp that’s easy on the eyes, it’s not without its hang-ups. Putting aside the fact that it’s a slow starter and it’s a puzzle-adventure game that really struggles from a control perspective at times, it's also clunky, can be unresponsive and sometimes the controls are a wee bit finnicky.

Revolution opted not to include direct control, opting for the traditional point and click to move mechanics, and honestly, I’m not sure that was the wisest decision. It feels like a port. It feels like a game more at home on a touchscreen device, not on your home console, which is a shame.

From an achievements perspective, the list is actually rather neatly put together. Sure, there’s a ton of story achievements, but with its limited scope, it’d be easy for Revolution to just stick them all on the story. Thankfully they didn’t. Instead, the team opted for some rather interesting and creative ones. Yes, it does mean some are missable, but because of their creativity, it’s totally worth it.

As far as point and click adventures go, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a pleasant escapade, one that can be a little illogical at times, and one that is marred by some awkward controls. Had it opted for direct control rather than the doesn’t-really-work-on-a-controller point and click style mechanics, Broken Sword 5 would have been a better game. From a story perspective though, it’s a crime caper that’s worthy of your time and attention, even if it can be a little frustrating at times.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is a solid little point-and-click adventure that's let down by its clunky controls and its sometimes nonsensical puzzles.

Form widget
75%
Audio
75%

Decent enough, but nothing to write home about. The voice acting is competent, the music is unspectacular.

Visuals
80%

Broken Sword 5’s art style is top notch. The wonderfully hand painted environments are an absolute pleasure. The lip syncing is a bit wonky though.

Playability
70%

The Serpent’s Curse is a wonderful adventure game, but it's muddied by some rather illogical puzzles and a lack of direct control.

Delivery
75%

There’s plenty of bang for your buck here and it’s an enjoyable romp from start to finish. There’s a few oddly designed and nonsensical puzzles though.

Achievements
80%

It’s actually a great little list, albeit a rather easy one. There’s story progression ones, obviously, but more importantly there’s a few that think outside the box.

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