Thanks to the special control input methods available on the Wii and DS, Nintendo’s two current gaming systems seem to be a popular avenue for recycling old-school adventure games of late. For some publishers, taking old adventure games from a decade or so ago down from the shelf, dusting them off, throwing in a few new tricks, and repackaging them for new players seems like a great idea. Still, even the better offerings tend to show their age, and they often fail to fully hold up to current standards.
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars – a stylish point-and-click game that first appeared on the PC about 13 years ago – is certainly one oldie-but-goodie with the power to stand the test of time. The Director’s Cut of Broken Sword on the Wii is a slick and entertaining adventure that adds some entirely new portions and other elements that are well-suited to the experience while also showcasing the title’s inherent charm. Being slightly outdated doesn’t always instantly signal the death knell for a game. This mystery adventure is worth revisiting.
Set in Paris, the game’s story follows photo journalist Nico Collard and American tourist George Stobbart who unwittingly uncover a present-day conspiracy that dates back to ancient times. When an important interview source – an influential and well known public figure – is suddenly murdered, and another of Nico’s contacts is killed in an explosive blast at the very same café George happens to be lunching at, the pair cross paths and decide to work together to unravel the strange criminal occurrences. Their investigation leads them into the midst of a dark plot involving cults, danger, and the theft of an ancient text. The original game (known as Circle of Blood in the U.S.) focused on George’s perspective, but the new Director’s Cut includes additional scenes where you’ll play as Nico. Switching back and forth between the two characters at different times, you’ll cooperatively explore the game’s plot from different angles. The tale itself lacks some of the excitement found in other games, but it’s well-scripted and interesting enough to keep you playing.
A bright and fluid animated presentation makes digging into Broken Sword a lot like playing an interactive cartoon. The hand-drawn graphics have a very distinct look to them that’s a big visual change of pace from your average point-and-click adventure game. The detailed scenic environments are a real treat, and they’re easy to navigate. Characters are less detailed on closer inspection, but their animations are smooth and packed with personality. Most of the voice work fits nicely to the characters, though the audio sometimes sounds inconsistent. For instance, someone might say a few lines that sound well-recorded in a voice studio only to have the next few sound like they were recorded with a low budget microphone in a large auditorium. Also, the text is too small to read on standard TVs without squinting. With those few bones picked, the overall delivery is pleasant and delightful.
Like other adventure games, Broken Sword follows a slow, plodding pace. You’ll spend lots of time examining each scene for items to pick up, hotspots to examine, and people to talk with. Chatting with the game’s strange cornucopia of characters takes up quite a bit of time, since you’ll typically be asking them about other people you’ve run into during your adventure and showing them important inventory items – in some cases numerous times in a single conversation – in hopes of gaining a crucial clue or triggering a breakthrough that allows you to progress. Exploring each location from top to bottom is also a substantive endeavor here.
The vast majority of the game’s environmental puzzles can be solved by picking up the correct item and using it on the proper location. Since many of the locations in the game are self-contained, very little time is wasted running around numerous screens searching for some intangible hint. This makes the gameplay far less frustrating than some titles in the genre. A progressive help system also lends a hand when needed without detracting from the challenge level.
Multiple tiers of hints are available for each location but only the first is unlocked immediately if you choose to access it. Others will become available the longer you spend in a particular area. This encourages you to continue exploring and testing things out just a little longer before giving in. Often you’ll find that little extra patience is all that’s needed to figure it out on your own.
At regular intervals you’ll also stumble across other puzzles, like putting a torn photo back together, picking a lock mechanism, entering a safe combination, and decoding encrypted letters, among other tasks, that make decent use of the Wii Remote and add just the right amount of variety into the exploration-heavy challenges. For the most part, these puzzles are interestingly designed and fun to play around with. They’re not as dense or sadistic as those in other adventure games, yet some are tricky enough to keep you pleasantly occupied for some time.
The Wii Remote functions well in the PC mouse’s stead. Pointing at the screen moves the cursor and a simple tap of the A button will move your character around to the spot indicated or have them interact with things. The cursor changes to indicate when you can interact with an object or person and if an item can possibly be used on a particular hotspot. Even the game’s busier settings aren’t inundated with hotspots, and the controller rumbles gently when you move your cursor over one. This makes it less grueling to explore locations and determine what needs to be done.
This new Director’s Cut edition expands on the original game significantly and brings some strong additions to Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars in the form of unique controls, new scenes, and a second playable character. It may not be quite enough to drag old players back for another go around, but it definitely does make the Director’s Cut the version to have if you’re interested in a decent point-and-click adventure.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The cool animated cartoon style is great. 3.7 Control
The Wii Remote works well as a mouse, and the mini-game puzzles incorporate it inoffensively. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Amusingly voiced dialogue is entertaining. The audio inconsistencies in voice recording quality are strange. 3.9
Though not the most thrilling adventure, the story is a good one that draws you in gradually. The puzzles and mini-games are good as well.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.