Review: Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse (PS4)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (4.8 GB)
Release Date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Revolution Software Ltd.
Developer: Revolution Software Ltd.
Original MSRP: $24.99 (US), €29.99 (EU), £24.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: T
PEGI: 16
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse is also available on PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

The point & click adventure series Broken Sword has been around since the 90’s and remained one of my favourite in the genre. With the original cementing it as one of the best looking games of its time, a fully voiced story, and beautiful animations, I adored the game and each one following it.

Ironically with the rise of PlayStation many publishers soured on anything in 2D and so eventually the series was forced into the 3D realm. A slashed Revolution Studios budget made their last couple of games a lesser experience.

In another ironic twist of fate Apple asked for the original games to be released on their platform bringing the series to this generation and their touch screens. This in turn seemed to relight the passion for the series with fans and the developer.

Now through a successful Kickstarter campaign we have a new game in the series and I take the PlayStation 4 version for a spin.

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Gameplay:
It begins with a robbery and murder in a small quaint gallery in France. George and Nico, your two loyal and faithful protagonists embark on a long adventure around Europe to discover the mystery behind it all.

You’ll meet many characters, both new and old. With every encounter you can view the individual’s picture and brief description in the pause menu. Pausing is really a misnomer in this game as you can usually leave your characters idling whilst you try to figure out the solution to the many puzzles or pop out to make a cup of tea. There is rarely any need to make quick reactions and the pace is always dialed right down.

Broken Sword 5 is a puzzle-heavy point & click adventure. With games like this you’ll be collecting strange knick-knacks that you’ll have to combine or use with something else in the environment to advance the narrative.

Many of these puzzles make sense but you’ll eventually come across the annoying oddity that you’ll only figure out by elimination. You can always give up and use the hints or scour the internet for a walkthrough.

… It must be magic …
You can, and will, need to revisit locations several times during the game but I still found the story and gameplay to be very linear. Veering off from the story and going to a different location resulted in a pointless expedition or at times simply not being allowed to leave the place your character currently resides.

Exploring the scene is accomplished by moving the left analog stick or sliding your finger around the touchpad. If the on-screen cursor changes to a cog you can perform an action, while a magnifying glass means you can examine.

Both Nico and George wear the same clothes during the entire adventure which isn’t surprising. You realise they can hold many large objects without even the slightest bulge in sight. This includes everything from a crowbar and some statues to a cup of coffee and even a mop. It must be magic.

The game features the Gnostic religion, interfering with corpses, coffee, and a very awkward and unsettling dance. It continually reminds me of the older games but never makes it necessary to have ever played them.

A few jokes fall flat but others made me chuckle. But what made me smile the most was the little comments George makes when you try something strange.

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Visuals:
The game consists of two-dimensional graphical works of art layered on each other to give the illusion of depth, similar to classic Disney animations.

Three-dimensional character animations are split apart and painted in two-dimensions to keep them from looking out-of-place in each scene. It sounds strange but it works very well.

It quickly becomes clear that both George and Nico have had the most attention from the artists but I still found the majority of other characters to look good as well.

Each location has been lovingly drawn and painted with some even looking good enough to print and keep. I wouldn’t mind seeing a PS4 theme from these developers.

… a relaxing and beautiful trip down memory lane …
Audio:
Broken Sword 5 has a fully voiced script with some recognizable actors retaining their roles once more from the previous versions. I was happy to hear Rolf Saxon reprised his role as George Stobbart, since anyone else wouldn’t be right. Emma Tate takes the role of Nicole “Nico” Collard and like Rolf, they both do an admirable job.

Voices on the other end of a phone call or intercom come through the DualShock 4 speaker. It works really well and unless you’re using a faulty DualShock 4 like I was originally it’ll sound nice and clear.

Music is subtle and concise, only breaking the silence to reward you with a familiar tune when you’re on the right path.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
From the opening scene to the very end I found Broken Sword 5: the Serpent’s Curse to bring back all those same emotions that captivated me back in the 90’s. That includes some puzzle solutions being a matter of elimination that borders on the ludicrous and others clever and ingenious.

The game is a relaxing and beautiful trip down memory lane that anyone could venture into without fear of being lost or not knowing the locals. Just don’t be afraid to ask for directions.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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