Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse
|Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse|
|Distribution||Download (DVD Release upon completion of Episode 2)|
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is the fifth title in the Broken Sword series of adventure video games, developed and published by Revolution Software, for Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation Vita (via the PlayStation Network), Android and iOS. The game was released in two episodes: the first was made available on 4 December 2013; the second was released on 16 April 2014 for PC platforms. It was announced on 23 August 2012, along with a Kickstarter project; it was launched for the development of the game, which had been self-funded until the launch, to be completed. The game will be in HD and will return to the series' 2D roots, with 3D characters pre-rendered and saved in 2D frames. The majority of the funding for the game was raised through Kickstarter, more than $771,000 of the requested $400,000 were raised, and together with PayPal donations, over $823,000.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Development
- 3 Reception
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse is a 2D adventure game played from a third-person perspective. Via a point and click or touch user interface, the player will guide protagonists George Stobbart and Nicole "Nico" Collard. One of the new gameplay elements explored in the game will be the manipulation and combining of knowledge, so the player will have to connect threads of knowledge in order to draw logical conclusions, allowing him to proceed. While death scenes were removed from The Shadow of the Templars ' director's cut (2009), in The Serpent's Curse, the player character's death will be possible if the player will make a wrong decision or won't complete an action quickly enough; however, unlike in the original two Broken Sword games, where the player then started off from the last save point, he will restart from right before the death scene, like in the 3D titles.
The player will have the option to choose between the modern and the classic inventory, the latter being in the fashion of the first two Broken Sword games, and the former in the fashion of their 2009 and 2010 Broken Sword remakes. The player will also have the option of switching the hint system or hotspot highlights on or off.
The game opens in 1937 in Catalonia, Spain, when a painting is seized by a man and his fascist army. The game then jumps to modern day Paris, whereupon George and Nico meet by chance at an exhibition at a Parisian art gallery, where they witness a man disguised as a pizza courier shooting the gallery owner, Henri, and stealing the seemingly worthless painting - la Maledicció. Nico chases after the killer, while George, whose company insured the exhibition, reviews the painting and discovers that the alarm had been sabotaged and suspects an inside job. Meanwhile, a priest at the exhibition, Father Simeon, claims that the painting is cursed. George blackmails the security password for Henri's office from art critic Hector Laine through his suspicious alibi, but as he tries to enter, Inspector Navet and Sergeant Moue arrive at the crime scene. Navet immediately suspects George of the crime. Nico manages to distract Navet as Sergeant Moue guards the door, and George enters and searches the office. On the CCTV monitor there is a glimpse of the painting with distinctive image of a snake eating its own tail at the heart of the painting, and he also notices "Waterloo Motors" written on the killer’s helmet. On Henri’s desk he also discovers various unpayed bills and files related to a shady security company called Vera. He heads off to their office, where George discovers that the company manager, Annette, was romantically involved with Laine. She resists to tell the name of the company owner.
George heads across Paris to Henri’s apartment, where he encounters a grieving widow, Bijou as well as a seductive Laine. George further blackmails him with a picture of Laine and Annette found at Vera security; Laine finally confirms that the owner of Vera had a Russian accent and leaves. George interrogates Bijou, who claims that she was unaware of Henri’s financial problems as she had little to do with the business of the gallery.
That night George breaks into the Vera office: in the back-office he finds evidence that Vera’s owner is a Russian named Medovsky, and the killer's scooter and murder weapon. As George picks up the gun, Navet and Moue burst in and arrest him on suspicion of the murder. The next day Navet lets George go due to lack of evidence but instructs him not to leave Paris. Meanwhile, Nico’s story makes the front page of La Liberté and her editor promises her Sunday’s front page as well if she manages to interview the painting’s owner. Shortly after, an elderly Spaniard, Marquès, visits her and claims to have recognised the painting in the newspaper as the one that used to belong to his family in Cataluña back in the thirties, but was stolen during the Spanish Civil War. He gives her a photograph from the 1930s, showing his family and the painting in the background. She is sceptical but offers him to stay in the apartment across the hall from hers, as her neighbour gave her the key while he’s gone for a few days. Nico heads to the café, where she meets Laine. She seduces him and gains entrance to Henri’s office, where she finds files with the name of the paintins owner: Medovsky. She phones Ronnie to inform him, but he reveals that he is a dangerous Russian oligarch and that someone more experienced should investigate further, but Nico persuades him not to take her off the story till they’ve had time to discuss it. George comes over to Nico’s. Comparing notes, they discover that Medovsky is both the owner of the painting and of Vera and now lives in London. By phoning Waterloo Motors, a motor-bike repair shop in London, that his driver is a regular customer.
Nico tells George about Marquès, just as he enters the apartment. Marquès shows them a medallion – worn by his father in the photograph and carries the symbol of the snake eating its tail: Marquès explains that it’s an Ouroboros, the symbol of Gnostics, a branch of Christianity persecuted in France by the Vatican Church in the 13th His ancestors were Gnostics. Back in the 13th century they fled France after being ruthlessly persecuted by the Vatican. Marquès explains that Fascist soldiers attacked his home and that his father died trying to save the painting.
George and Nico head to London to confront the Russian. After convincing Medovsky’s bodyguard Shears that they are from the insurance company, George and Nico are led into Medovsky’s study. Medovsky denies any involvement in the robbery and murder, only interested in claiming the insurance, but George explains that he needs proof of ownership, at which point Shears interrupts to inform Medovsky of the presence of a Mr. Hobbs; Medovsky takes a portfolio case from his cupboard and leaves. From the window, Nico can see Medovsky in heated conversation on the doorstep, while George breaks into Medovsky’s office: he discovers the lease for the Vera Security office; expenses for a trip to Paris (including a receipt for a pizza); and a letter from Mr. Gehnen making a generous offer for the Serp painting, while the cupboard in the study stored a business card from Mr. Hobbs, a Restorer, with his address and a note: “the Serp for you to review”. George and Nico also conclude that Shears was the pizza delivery man. The two quickly put everything back before Medovsky comes back and urges them to leave.
In spite of a phone call from Navet summoning them to a meeting back in the gallery (and a reminder from him not to leave Paris), George and Nico visit Hobbs; posing as models, they enter Hobbs’s studio – George manages to take a look in the portfolio, which included rough sketches of the painting, but with a different symbol in the center of it: instead of a tree, there is a man’s face and a symbol carved in his forehead. He takes the sketch, and the two confront Hobbs. He dismisses Marquès’s claims and says that Medovsky’s ownership is proved by the provenance, carried by the exhibit curator, Laine. George and Nico head back to Paris – Nico to talk to her editor about the story, George to attend a murder re-enactment at the gallery. Navet quickly dismisses George’s claims about Medovsky. During the re-enactment, George speaks to Simeon, who explains his worries about the painting. He describes Gnostics as heritics who worship the Devil.
George shows Hobbs’s sketch to Simeon. He is horrified, mentions the Tabula Veritatis and hastily runs out of the gallery, at which point an Englishman enters and introduces himself as Interpol investigator Ralph Langham. Langham speaks to George and Nico, and ensures that he has no doubt about George’s innocence. They hand him over the Medovsky file, upon which Langham reveals that Medovsky has long been suspected of many art-thefts by Interpol. George confronts Laine, who claims only to have glanced at the letter and that as the main main administrator of the Gallery, Bijou will have it safely stored in the office safe. George heads to Henri’s apartment, where a drunken Bijou confuses George for Henri and gives him the office safe key, before she passes out.
At the café, George finds a nervous Simeon waiting for him. He tells George that the painting is a clue map that, when decoded, tells of the location of an ancient artefact called the Tabula Veritatis, or tablet of truth, which the Gnostics got hold of in the 13th and that the church planned to take it from them in the 13th century with a Crusade organised to march into Languedoc, France, where most of the Gnostics were killed, but the Tabula was never found. Simeon tells George to go into the gallery, where he should join him shortly and explain further. George heads into the gallery office and in Henri’s safe finds the provenance, but comparing it to Hobbs’s sketch, discovers that both from the same larger sheet and that it is a fake forged by Hobbs.
Suddenly, a gunshot from inside the gallery is heard. George finds the office door locked, but climbs out the window and back in the gallery finds a wounded Simeon. Before he passes away, Simeon tells him that the Tabula can raise the Devil and that George must find it before the Gnostics. George searches Simeon’s corpse, and finds a photocopy of an ancient document, written in Aramaic, with a drawing: a strange temple with two altars. The fax is signed “Wolfram”. A Nico phones George and informs him that someone has broken into her neighbour’s apartment and there is blood everywhere. George rushes out of the gallery, just as Laine enters and upon seeing Simeon’s body, immediately accuses George of the crime, but George must quickly run to Nico.
Back in Nico’s building, the apartment is a mess and Marquès is missing. Nico explains that as she entered, someone rushed past her and knocked her over. George finds Marquès’ medallion and a series of scribbles on the photograph that Nico took of the painting and gave to Marquès – the word ‘Santos’ and names of Saints – Mary Magdalene, Doubting Thomas, Simon Magus and Judas. Navet calls Nico, who asks her about George’s whereabouts, and she tells him that he is with her: only to realise that George is the prime suspect in Simeon’s murder. Sirens are heard in the distance. The two escape through the fire escape and Fleur’s flower shop.
George and Nico head to Bijou's apartment, who now admits that she, Henri and Hobbs were part of Medovsky's scam; Medovsky had commissioned Hobbs to make a forgery – he planned to sell both on the black market. But Hobbs had actually made two forgeries – and passed one back to Medovsky. They were going to run away together with the original and sell to the Gnostics.
George and Nico head for London. Back at Hobbs’s studio, they find him dead in a secret upper studio next to an empty frame that’s clearly had a painting cut out – from what canvas remains, it would seem that someone has already taken the painting. They find the hiding place of the original painting, significantly different from the other: in the central Ouroboros, is a face with a symbol inset into its forehead – the Tabula Veritatis. They also find a map of Catalonia on which he has written ‘Castillo’, among the points highlighted points is ‘Castillo de Santos’. George remembers that ‘Santos’ was written on Nico’s photos. Smoke starts pouring from downstairs: the place is on fire. They climb onto the roof. Down below is Ralph Langham, who looks up briefly but walks away and doesn’t help them. However, firemen sirens are heard from afar, assuring George and Nico’s safety, who will follow the trail to Spain.
When writing the first two Broken Sword titles in the 1990s, Revolution Software's games were published by Virgin Interactive, who wanted to ensure that the games were of quality, putting Revolution under no pressure and giving them much creative freedom and little time restriction (more so with the first game, The Shadow of the Templars). Towards the end of the 1990s, however, adventure games, largely 2D and PC-exclusive, were declining in popularity during the rise of visceral, 3D platformers and were viewed as "commercially unfeasible." Cecil credited the decline to PlayStation, which introduced a new audience of University age interested in visceral, 3D games. As a result, publishers would rather pitch titles such as 3D shooters to retailers. This "drove away the audience that wanted more cerebral games like adventures, so sales for the genre dropped even further and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy," said Charles Cecil, Revolution's CEO and Broken Sword creator.
This meant the Broken Sword sequels The Sleeping Dragon (2003) and The Angel of Death (2006) could be commissioned by publishers only by switching to 3D. When Revolution signed a contract, the publisher took control of the schedule, in which Revolution's creative process was limited by tight milestones that would compromise the game and guide the design to appeal to retailers rather than audiences. In this publishing model, the publisher took the financial risk, benefiting from the game's success, while the developer didn't – after the publisher and the retailers took their cuts of the revenue, a modest 7 percent was assigned to the developer; despite the Broken Sword series earning "hundreds of millions," Revolution was, to quote Cecil, "developing very successful games at a loss."
However, when Apple contacted Revolution in 2009 to produce their games for the iOS, Revolution self-published Broken Sword - The Shadow of the Templars: Director's Cut and Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror: Remastered on the iPhone/iPad Store, and later on for PC and Mac on GoG.com, Steam and iTunes Store and for Android on Google Play; in the self-publishing model, Revolution was commissioned 70% of the revenue rather than 7%, meaning that the company was in a far stronger financial position than before. – The commercial performance of the Broken Sword I and II reimaginations were also considerably stronger than the series' 3D entries, particularly on handheld platforms: The two remakes were purchased 500 thousand times, with downloads totaling five million through promotions, on the iOS in 2011 alone. Cecil credited Apple and digital distribution to saving indie developers such as Revolution, and reviving the adventure genre. This enabled the studio to partially self-fund their next title, The Serpent's Curse – 500 thousand dollars, earned with the success of the self-published releases, were spent on the game. Revolution than had to choose between making a shorter, more linear game with $500,000 with the length of the shortest Broken Sword, The Smoking Mirror, or try to raise money through crowd-funding to make an overall better game.
A few months before the announcement it was largely believed in the game press that Revolution was working on a fifth instalment in the Broken Sword series. Cecil didn't confirm the speculations though, but did confirm that they were working on a new high-definition title, which would return to Revolution's 2D roots which was planned be announced in July 2012.
Announcement, fundraising and release
After a few delays, Revolution announced Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse on 23 August 2012, starting a Kickstarter project with a $400,000 goal. Until then, the production of the game had been self-funded and $500,000 had been spent. Despite interest of the "industry's biggest third party publisher," Revolution preferred to self-publish the game, giving them creative freedom, which Cecil felt allowed them to make decisions that are best for the game. However, Cecil has also noted that he still plans to work with publishers in the future for retail releases. The game's Kickstarter goal was reached in the project's 13th day. It was successfully funded on 22 September 2012, raising $771,560 from 14,032 backers, and a total of $823,232 counting 1,218 PayPal backers who raised $51,672.
The game will be released for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android and PlayStation Vita, with a large possibility of a PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Marketplace release. Regarding Revolution's choice of platforms, Cecil said that the point-and-click interface of the PC platforms translated very well to the "slide-and-touch" user interface on mobile platform, but that the direct control interface on a console controller differs greatly from the former two interfaces. He noted though, that there he is still very keen to bring the game to consoles, but that it is not a certainty. Cecil has also noted that Revolution would have to publish the console versions through the format holders rather than self-publish. At the 2013 Gamescom, Revolution released a teaser trailer for The Serpent's Curse and announced a PlayStation Vita release.
Cecil stated that the game is expected to be released "in the first quarter, or right at the very beginning of the second quarter of next year , so probably, end of March." In a GameSpot UK podcast on 31 October 2012, Cecil stated that the game was expected to be delayed "for a month or two" because of the achieved stretch goals that increased the development time due to the promised additional content.
After further delays, Revolution announced on 5 November that the game will be released as a two-part episodic title, with the first episode coming on 4 December 2013, and the second one in Q1 2014. Initial releases would be for desktop platforms, and other releases would follow shortly after. Cecil explained that the game became much larger than they had anticipated, with enough content for two full-fledged games. This meant that the title would not be fully completed by the end of 2013, but Revolution had promised a 2013 release, and so came the decision to split the game in two. Cecil also added that sometimes games are too long, and players don't find time to finish it, and saw that a split would also benefit in this field. He compared the length of a single episode to that of The Smoking Mirror.
On 29 November, backers of the $50 tier or more were given exclusive beta access, featuring the first three scenes from episode 1. Both episodes bundled together were made available for pre-order, on 27 November 2013 on Good Old Games, and on 28 November on Steam. Episode one was released on 4 December for PC on the same services (episode 2 would be added to the game as an update for the same purchase). The first episode was also released for the Vita on 18 December, bought either separately or with the second episode, and for iOS on 6 February and on for Android on 18 March. On iOS and Android, episode 2 would be released as an in-app purchase.
Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse was built by four main programmers, using Virtual Theatre 7, Revolution's own in-house developed game engine based on the company's original Virtual Theatre, used to create their 2D titles in the 1990s. Tony Warriner, co-founder and technical director of Revolution, programmed the game's engine, in particular its user interface (UI) and game scripting system, wanting to warrant the UI was "as smooth, simple and intuitive as possible." As an engine developer, Joost Peters, who previously co-programmed the two Broken Sword remakes with Warriner, had to ensure the engine was portable and ran optimally on a wide range of platforms. Coder Peter Brooks had to implement features between various platforms and application programming interfaces connectable to the game. Andrew Boskett, who previously worked on The Sleeping Dragon, returned to program The Serpent's Curse. Warriner and Brooks both usually used OS X, Peters used Linux and Boskett Windows, to ensure that all the game would remain in sync on all platforms.
With The Serpent's Curse, Broken Sword returned to its 2D roots, in high-definition (HD). While he latter two Broken Sword entries had been generally well received by the series' fanbase, the move to 3D graphics was met with mixed reactions. The backgrounds for The Serpent's Curse were originally planned to be pre-rendered 3D ones, but Cecil felt they "just didn’t give [the crew] the look that [they] wanted." He also believed that while 3D was accurate and realistic, it "lacked character" and the "classic" feel of the "clarity and beauty" of backgrounds hand-drawn by skillful 2D layout artists that Cecil felt could "cheat perspective to achieve maximum emotional effect while remaining believable" and "create environments that are more interesting and it creates a much better overall feeling."
Revolution sourced experienced layout artists that have worked for companies such as Disney, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, Universal Studios, Aardman, Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox, including lead art director Tori "Cat" Davis, who has worked on acclaimed works such as animated films The Illusionist (2010), Arthur Christmas (2011) and Frankenweenie (2012), as well as the children's animated television series Shaun the Sheep (2007–); she created and managed the hand drawn environments for the game and oversee the work of the background painters. Craig Gardiner, the game's lead animator, oversaw the work of the animation team, to ensure the character animations were consistent and did not feel out of place, fitting within Cecil's vision of the game. Tim Robins was the graphic artist; he created text information seen on the screen, such as icons, menus and maps, was responsible for the visual style of interactive elements in the game and also served as an assistant layout artist. Backgrounds were traditionally hand-drawn and then colored in Photoshop, while Robins usually worked in Photoshop and Illustrator.
While the return to 2D had been met with high praise, the characters were modeled in 3D and then pre-rendered and saved in 2D sprites rather than being hand-drawn 2D sprites, which was initially met with mixed reception from fans. Cecil explained that the game was in full HD in order achieve the highest visual quality possible, but the original animations from The Shadow of the Templars and The Smoking Mirror were created in 640×400; a move to HD would require animations three times larger, and hand-animating so many pixels might be possible, but would be a "massively complicated job." To further quote Cecil, "The massive advantage of rendering and then modelling is that obviously the data is much more manageable, we can connect animations much more smoothly, we can continue to tweak to optimise the 2D look which we’re in the process of doing, and you can hand-touch them at the end. A lot of people have said that we should be doing 2D, and I totally respect their comments, but my opinion is that it’s just not feasible. I’m also very pleased with the way the sprites are looking anyway. What we probably need to do is communicate that the end result is they look like they’re sprites, they look like they’re 2D. So I don’t regret the decision at all, and I’m absolutely convinced it’s the right one. I just don’t think we’ve communicated as well as we should have done that the end results will look like cartoony 2D sprites." He also stated that 2D and 3D in HD brings the "best of every world." Technology written specifically to give the sprites a more "cartoony" look was written.
Dan Brown's best-selling The Da Vinci Code (2003) brought the Knights Templar theme into the mainstream, despite negative reviews, inspiring a slew of often panned Templar films, games and books, and as a result, the Templars became cliche; although Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars was released seven years prior to The Da Vinci Code to great acclaim as part of the Templar "zeitgeist", bringing them into the public eye, with the game's fanbase and various media outlets even believing that Brown was inspired by Broken Sword when writing his novel, Cecil felt that the Broken Sword series could no longer trade on the Templar, a theme three of the four Broken Sword games were based on.
Cecil had since been fascinated by the Gnostic Gospels; in 1945, a local farmer near Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt discovered a clay casket with twelve leather-bound manuscripts that comprised fifty-two Gnostic texts; one of the texts particularly caught Cecil's attention, the Testimony of Truth, which tells the story of Genesis from a different perspective: From the perspective of a jealous God, the creator of man, and the Serpent, Lucifer, the bringer of light, who gives knowledge to man but is not once called the Devil – these were written by Gnostics, who were considered heretic by the Orthodox Church; the Cathars, who were Gnostic, were brutally suppressed and massacred during the 13th century in the Albigensian Crusade in Languedoc, Southern France, by Pope Innocent III of the Catholic Church and the newly-set up Dominican Order. Cecil was fascinated that a piece of Christian history with such importance hadn't yet been brought into public consciousness, and hoped to start the new zeitgest with The Serpent's Curse, which would explore what secrets the Gnostics held and why did the Church feel threatened by them, resonating the story to the present day.
The game was dubbed into German, French, Spanish, and Italian. Polish and Russian translations of the subtitles were made available as well. Rolf Saxon returned to voice George Stobbart. Emma Tate will voice Nicole "Nico" Collard. Other voice actors from earlier instalments of the series will also return. Alexander Schottky, the original German voice of George, Emmanuel Curtil, the original French voice of George, and Nathanièle Esther, the French voice of Nico, are also confirmed to reprise their roles. Hazel Ellerby, who voiced Nicole "Nico" Collard in the original Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars and its director's cut, was initially set to reprise her roles of Nico and Lady Piermont, but scheduling conflicts came in the way and Ellerby was not included in the recording. The voice recording took place in OMUK, a video game voice recording studio in London. The Shadow of the Templars and director's cut composer Barrington Pheloung returned as well. The soundtrack will be synthesized rather than orchestrated. It also featured songs by Miles Gilderdale, including "Jasmine" and "Strange Girl".
Kickstarter expansion and other additions
The Serpent's Curse, without achieving its Kickstarter goal, would be a more linear game, quicker to play through, circa eight-hours long, of similar length to the shortest Broken Sword, The Smoking Mirror. However, the funds raised and stretch goals achieved enabled Revolution to make a longer, more ambitious game with further external locations with associated puzzles and characters to ensure the game doesn't feel "claustrophobic", as well additional characters making the game more free-form and giving players a genuine choice in how they choose to approach puzzles. In the game, the player is also offered the option to choose the preferred of two text fonts: one resembling the stylised, colored and bold font of the early series' entries, and one resembling the boxed comic-book font found in the Broken Sword remakes.
TheSixthAxis named The Serpent's Curse one of the top 100 most anticipated games of 2013, while Micro Mart named it one of their most anticipated PC games of 2013. In Adventure Gamers' Hype-o-Meter, the game came second in a list of most anticipated games. It was declared one of the 36 most anticipated iOS and Android games for the rest of 2013 by Pocket Gamer in a July article. Gaming Trend cited the second episode as one of their most anticipated titles of Q1 2014.
The first episode was met with mixed to positive reviews from critics. Reviewers gave much praise to the episode for its artistic direction and plot, many deeming it a return to form for the series, while a number of them felt that it was too linear and easy and that the split into episodes resulted in an unpleasant cliffhanger. It received a score of 74% on GameRankings and 69/100 on Metacritic.
The return of hand-drawn 2D backgrounds was met with high praise from reviewers. Edge stated that Revolution "have maintained the peerless quality" of its "gorgeous," "beautifully" "hand-dawn backgrounds" provided by "top tier film industry talent". Geoff Thew of Hardcore Gamer hailed Revolution as "adventure game masters" for crafting "capital-G Gorgeous" backgrounds, "hand-drawn with a true sense of artistry and packed with detail" that feel "lived-in, while simultaneously allowing important gameplay elements to be subtly emphasized."
However, the inclusion of cel-shaded 3D character models was met with mixed reactions. While it was generally agreed that the models do look good, many were critical of their "wooden" animations. Cameron Woolsey of GameSpot said the 3D character models "blend effortlessly into the gorgeous" backdrops, but that "it's hard not to notice the stiff and somewhat primitive animations, which are distracting compared to the game's overall beauty." Edge felt that the "strange, plastic-looking" 3D character models and their "awkward, robotic animations" are a ""jarring aesthetic element" that looks "entirely out of place in each scene" that "obscur[e] the beauty of each environment". But both Snædal and Thew viewed this as a minor issue, and others were far less critical of the animations, particularly Osborn, who was "really impressed" with the "much-improved animations and sly 2.5D effects" and the "fluid and effortless" character movements. Pete Davison of USgamer said that the "gorgeous," "high-res" backgrounds coupled with the "high[ly] detail[ed]" 3D models make for a "good-looking game", despite "some animations [being] a little wooden at times." Mark Langshaw of Digital Spy complimented the inclusion of 3D models set against 2D backgrounds, which he said that, "despite looking dated in some respects", felt "like a natural evolution" for Broken Sword.
Some were positive about the puzzles: Thew said that "plenty" are "well-designed" and "feel sensible while still taxing your mental muscles." Many noted that, spare some exceptions, the puzzles were easy with clear solutions, but didn't viewe it as a con: Davison said it "help[ed] keep the story flowing along nicely". Woolsey noted that "Some adventure game fans may be turned off by the linear focus," but that "the design allowed the narrative to move with a strong pace and clear direction". Others found the quality of the puzzles to be variable: Both Edge and Metro GameCentral felt that they vary from "excellent", "well thought-out logic-based puzzles" to "absurdly abstract or purely dialogue-based." Langshaw stated that some are "genuinely inventive," while others "feel tedious and unsatisfactory to the seasoned adventurer." McDonald said that "few are particularly difficult, and there aren’t too many that feel illogical or ridiculous, but there is a big reliance on the game giving you the item you need at the exact moment you need it."
The plot was met with praise. Davison complimented the "slow, careful and considered pacing" and the story, positively noting "the slow reveal that all is not quite as simple as it initially appears," like previous Broken Swords, and the relevance of George's job, which he felt "fit[ted] in much more neatly with the game's central mystery". Woolsey said that "The story weaves a smart, fascinating, and often humorous tale." Snædal hailed the "Brilliant story evolution and plot complexity". Edge called the story "an intriguing, often spooky, yarn" that "achieves that crucial, careful balance between character motivation and circumstance driving events forward". Langshaw praised the story, "laden with mystery and intrigue," but noted "some pacing issues". McDonald, Osborn and Metro GameCentral all complimented the "dark," "engaging" and "intriguing" plot.
Many accredited the script and voice acting. Woolsey stated that the game's world is complemented by "interesting, entertaining, and often hilarious" characters whose personalities "shine through every conversation" and a "great vocal cast" that "makes each character believable and memorable." Thew said the characters are well-written and showcase "some great" humor through "extensive and amusing dialogue trees," and like previous Broken Swords, "some of the industry’s best voiceover work". McDonald noted that the mixture of a dark story with "ridiculous" characters with "over-the-top accents" was part of "Broken Sword 's charm", which he liked, but added that it was a matter of "personal taste". He stated that a majority of the characters are "well-written" with "memorable individuality", writing: "for once I can actually use the word 'character' without inwardly rolling my eyes." He pointed out Bassam and Rolf Saxon's performance as George Stobbart as highlights. Others were less enthusiastic. Langshaw and Metro GameCentral agreed that, while "by no means poor," the script fell victim to "attempts at humour" that "fall embarrassingly flat", and that the voice cast was "highly variable," namely approving Rolf Saxon's return as George but denouncing Emma Tate as Nico. Even Snædal who commended the "quality" voiceovers, showed disapproval of Tate's overacting. Some reviewers applauded the music. McDonald said "The sound design is gorgeous and reminiscent of earlier games." Thew said the games's "powerful and cinematic" score "evoke[s] nostalgia" and that there is "some fantastic ambiance at play here that really brings the environments to life."
Many of the critics' final scores were affected by the cliffhanger, which most found unsatisfactory, while others left the game unrated until the second episode. Davison wrote that the game is a "fine return to form for the series" that "very much feels like one of the first two Broken Sword games," but "frustratingly" "ends with a cliffhanger just as things are starting to get really interesting in this regard." Although finding it a "natural break" and saying that "What's here is very good indeed and absolutely well worth your time," he noted that buying the separate episode before the full release depends on "your own tolerance to cliffhangers." Thew was upset with how the game ends with an "egregious cliffhanger" without a "sense of resolution". He still said that "Even if it hasn’t been entirely satisfying," it is a "thoroughly enjoy[able]" game that "has been a lot of fun so far." He closed stating that people unfimiliar with the game being wary because of it being "half-finished", he wouldn't hesitate to recommend the game to fans and hoped and believed that Revolution would deliver a "fulfilling conclusion" and "great finale". Edge wrote that the game "offers much of the same charismatic virtual tourism and intrigue that has held the brand in such high regard for so long" and "certainly take[s] and recreate[s] some of the best elements of their previous adventures," but feared that it did not offer enough innovation to "drag players away from" newer point-and-click offerings and hoped that the second episode would "offer a narrative curveball to shock the series into a new era rather than simply riffing on its past." McDonald felt like the game was "one big title that's been chopped in half" which closes just as "the big mystery is really only beginning to kick off" and doesn't feel "normally self-contained," making it difficult to score the game, as the quality of it "hinges so badly on the quality of the second episode;" this made him wary of recommending it "too highly" to someone who is not familiar with the series until the second episode's release and finished off writing: "I hope that, when episode two launches, I'll be bemoaning my own idiocy and falling over myself to award the complete game a much higher score [than 6/10]." Osborn deemed the first episode of The Serpent's Curse "immensely entertaining so far" and "one of 2013's unexpected pleasures."
The second episode saw an improvement in reception, particularly the increased pace and puzzle difficulty, although some did see certain elements worsen. It received a score of 74% on GameRankings and 72/100 on Metacritic.
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- Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse at Revolution Software
- Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse at Adventure Gamers
- Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse at Kickstarter