Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars The Directors Cut Review for Nintendo DS

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars The Directors Cut Review for Nintendo DS

Tears of a Clown

Ports and remakes are a fact of life in gaming, and Nintendo DS has already seen its fair share – some quite good, others not so great. However, the system has proven to be especially fitting for the point-and-click-adventure genre, so it’s nice to see a return of such games as Broken Sword. Initially released for PC as Circle of Blood and later ported to both the original PlayStation and GameBoy Advance, Ubisoft has now revived this long-time classic for one final encore on DS (and Wii).

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut screenshot

For those who have played the original game in one form or another, you’ll mostly know what to expect here. Though this latest iteration offers quite a bit of new content, the original game is still very much intact. I’m hesitant to say too much regarding the plot and progression of the game, as even fans of the original will find some new and unique twists here. Suffice it to say, however, Shadow of the Templars still holds up as one of the most well-written and intelligently presented adventure games of all time. What’s more, it fits almost perfectly onto the DS platform.

To even discuss how the game begins would give away too much to folks looking to enjoy the new content of this old favorite. Broken Sword is a deep mystery that begins in France and will take you to locales around Europe and even the Middle East. The dialogue is extremely well-crafted, though there are occasional bits of unnecessary information offered by various characters throughout the game. We won’t beat around the bush, though – this is a great adventure game that is more than worthy of making an appearance on DS. The story’s pacing is perhaps the key element in what makes this such an enjoyable experience, and though it can’t escape the more slow-paced nature of its genre, Broken Sword is sure to be a fun ride for those in search of a finely-tuned adventure.

In order to play the game, you’ll make strict use of the touch screen. What worked on PC many years ago, works equally well on DS. You’ll move your character(s) by tapping on areas of an environment. To interact with objects or people, you simply hold the stylus over them and options will then appear. The system is simple and works well. Of course, there are ample puzzles that make good use of the touch screen as well. You’ll encounter sliding puzzles, as well as use the touch screen to blend various things together and introduce items to characters for questioning.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut screenshot

You’ll begin your adventure in France, and after a few scenes, an overworld map will open up, allowing you to move about in a semi-nonlinear fashion. Eventually, you’ll be able to move along to other parts of the world, though areas of investigation have a nice, bite size to them; you’ll never feel bogged down with too much to sift through at once. The game does call for a bit of back-and-forth to key areas, but backtracking never feels like a chore, since you’ll need to discuss newly found items and information with various characters – everything feels seamlessly tied together to make the story progress smoothly. Some locales are only initially open for a bit of gumshoeing, and you might not be able to access certain elements within a particular area until acquiring a specific item or gaining access by some other means.

It’s impossible to discuss the gameplay in Broken Sword without highlighting its presentation, since it’s the characters, dialogue, and scenery that make up the foundation of the game. The story moves along in a logical progression, and the dialogue feels natural. You’ll have to pry for specific information, and though it’s not always obvious how best to proceed, the gameplay always makes perfect sense once you figure out what to do. All of this lends to making Broken Sword a very rewarding adventure, as you’re always tasked with using ingenuity over mindless guessing and luck.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut screenshot

It’s also somewhat ingenious how the game gives you only a handful of things to work out at a given time, yet it’s just the right amount to offer a real challenge. You are presented with the option of using hints, but as you progress further into the game, hints are offered less frequently and don’t reveal nearly enough to completely solve a given puzzle.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut screenshot

The interface is easy to use and unobtrusive. There’s a suitcase icon on the bottom, left-hand side of the touch screen, and a menu icon on the top left. Opening your case allows you to look at items in your current inventory, and the menu lets you save or review a diary of all key events throughout the game. Environments load quickly, and the pacing never falters.

Broken Sword also looks great on DS. All of the “action” takes place on the bottom screen, whilst conversations appear on the top screen. The hand-drawn art style hasn’t aged a bit, and everything animates nicely. Backgrounds are 2D stills that scroll as you move from one part of an area to the next, but there are many subtle nuisances that bring each scene to life. During conversations, the characters continuously animate, and their expressions are wonderfully detailed. The top screen, however, is a bit underutilized, and when you’re not engaged in conversation, all you’ll see up there is one of a handful of static art stills that represent the country you’re currently in.

One of the true highlights of the game is the music that plays throughout the adventure. When talking with someone or investigating areas, the music will begin to swell, cuing the player to important plot or puzzle elements they’ve stumbled upon. The voice-overs aren’t present in this DS version, but the text scroll works fine. The original Foley work, however, seems to all be in place, and it’s the “little things” that really help make this such a great game. Unfortunately, some sound effects and music often get cut off abruptly when either entering the menu screen or moving to a new scene. It’s a noticeable rough edge to what is otherwise a finely polished presentation.

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars is a fine choice for DS, and with the added content, there’s something here for newcomers and long-time fans alike. For a handheld game, it offers a fairly lengthy adventure, clocking in at around 12-15 hours depending on your familiarity with the original game. Like all games of this sort, however, once it’s over, that’s pretty much it – there’s little reason to go back. Whether or not the new content will be enough for folks who’ve already run Broken Sword through its paces will greatly depend on your love of the original game. Still, it’s a timeless classic that has earned its right to offer enjoyment to another generation of adventure fans.

The game still looks beautiful and is a perfect fit on DS. The top screen is a bit underutilized. 4.0 Control
The controls are straightforward and are well-suited to the touch screen interface. Selecting options can be a tad finicky. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music does a great job of setting up the story and gameplay elements, and ambient sound effects help bring environments to life. A few presentational issues cause the music to get abruptly cropped here and there. 4.0

Play Value
The new content and additions mostly make this a better Broken Sword than the original, though it might not be enough to draw in folks who have already played through the game elsewhere. At 12-15 hours, though, it’s a great adventure for newcomers.

4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Intriguing storyline following a journalist’s eyewitness account of a tragic assassination.
  • DS stylus controls create a whole new level of interaction and accessibility to vibrant and detailed settings.
  • New hint system prevents players from ever getting stuck on puzzles by offering tips and advice when needed.

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