How do they keep breaking all those swords?

Title: Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse
Platform: Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One, PC, Android
Developer: Revolution Software
Publisher: Revolution Software
Release Date: September 21, 2018 (Switch), out now (all other platforms)
Price: £25/$25 (across all platforms)
TL;DR: You get to attach a fake dynamite to a goat – enough said.
Family Focus: Click here for more information

How do you get a cockroach to carry a paperclip? How do you get a group of flunkies to move without violence? And how the bloody hell do you increase the foot traffic for a stall in a run-down mall? Well, if you want to know the answers to these life-essential questions, have we got the game for you! Because, after its initial Kickstarter release on consoles and PC, you can now pick up Broken Sword 5 on Switch; here’s what we made of the latest port.

Anyone that’s played a Broken Sword game – or any kind of point and click adventure before – will have some idea of what the game will be asking of you. And The Serpent’s Curse doesn’t stray from that traditional gameplay, asking you to solve a series of puzzles that stretch from the aforementioned cockroach conundrum to decoding a telegram to better understand a map. The puzzles themselves all serve to underline just how clever the team at Revolution really are – well, clever and twisted. But the fact remains, the core ideas behind the game, a tangle of innovative, whacky, and when it comes down to it – strangely logical puzzles, continues to show why the Broken Sword series has long been heralded as one of the best in the genre.

While the puzzles themselves are a lot of fun, some parts of the game feel more like eye tests that they do brain-teasers. There were a handful of puzzles that I felt I already knew how to solve but kept running into dead-ends simply because I couldn’t spot a dark blue crowbar on a night-time street or I couldn’t see a lighter tucked away in a bag. It’s something that’s part-and-parcel of the point-and-click genre and while it doesn’t take anything away from the game, it will sometimes have you losing patience with what’s otherwise a set of imaginative puzzles.

That being said, the game does offer hints for whatever part of the game you’re on. With advice starting as being leading questions that put you on the right track and ending with the most simplistic set of instruction you could think of, in a manner that seems to be the game pressing its fingers to its eyes and telling you what to do through gritted teeth. It’s an incredibly handy feature, especially if you do find yourself at a loss halfway through a puzzle or you just want to get the story going again.

The story isn’t exactly half-arsed either. Seeing both George Stobbart – who’s now an insurance salesman (was he always an insurance guy?) and Nicco the journalist return for another globe-trotting adventure that sees a simple art-theft turn into a supernatural religious conspiracy. I really don’t want to go into specifics for the game but I will say that at times, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally strolled into a Dan Brown novel. The story somehow finds an excellent balance between the comedy that’s wrapped up in the DNA of the genre whilst still maintaining the intrigue and melodrama that’ll have you making excuses for playing just another ten minutes hours after you said you’d go to bed.

While the story and gameplay are strong enough on their own, it’s handy that the game’s design is able to pull its weight as well. The vibrant, cartoony design of the Broken Sword series has always had a place in many a player’s heart and The Serpent’s Curse thankfully doesn’t try to shake things up. Whether it’s the streets of Paris, a “seedy” back-alley of London, the Spanish countryside, and even some ruins in Iraq, each piece of scenery pulsates with colour, so that you’ll just want to stare at the scenery for a bit while George, I dunno, tries to dodge a goat or something.

If you missed Broken Sword 5 the first time around and you’re looking for a new game to play on your Switch, then it’s something you should consider picking up. The collection of puzzles, the game’s humour, and the ludicrous story that unfolds, all work together to make it must-play for those of you who love the old-school point-and-click games. And for those who enjoy a good story but you’re shite at puzzles? Well, the game’s handy hint system does all the thinking for you and still lets you reap the rewards.

The Good:

  • An imaginative set of puzzles that recapture the wackiness of classic adventure titles
  • A good pace to the story, it doesn’t feel like it drags on for too long
  • The game looks bloody lovely

The bad:

  • Being able to spot a dark object on a dark ground isn’t a puzzle, it’s just time-wasting

Family Focus

Broken Sword 5 is rated “T” for Teen in the US and PEGI 16 in the UK. There are allusions to violence, a handful of threats, a couple of sexual innuendos, and some murder. None of it’s graphic or really that overt, and even the religious-heavy storyline isn’t harmful unless you’re massively into or massively against religion.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a digital copy provided by PR for the purpose of this review.