Although Kickstarter projects promise to give power back to the fans, and attest to be working solely to please their audience, several high-profile problems and failures have rocked the boat over the last year. What once was the next big hope for independent video games now has a certain scepticism associated with it. So when Revolution announced that Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse would be split into two parts, fans were understandably worried that something more serious may be wrong.
Four months on from the release of Part 1 however, Part 2 has surfaced with no apparent issues in its development. Rather than something necessitating the split of the game into two parts, Revolution founder Charles Cecil cites excitement and their wish to get at least part of the game into the hands of their fans as soon as possible. Ultimately it may have hurt the game, because as stated in our review of Part 1, it seems like the pacing suffered due to the fifty/fifty split. It was all exposition and set-up in the first part, with little pay-off – so does Part 2 offer a bit more to get your teeth into?
Although the plot may never become quite as gripping or historically exciting as the original Broken Sword, Part 2 certainly benefits from a faster pace and more action-packed scenarios. We re-join George and Nico in Catalonia on the trail of the mystical artefact, the Tabula Veritatis. Following clues gathered in Part 1, the adventuring duo find themselves being shot at, trapped and dangling from perilous heights – all of which give the game a much greater feel of urgency and excitement than in the first half.
The only real negative is that everything seems to come to a halt rather suddenly, with a somewhat disappointing finale – but sadly this has been a bit of a trend for Broken Sword games, where the story is never wrapped up quite as neatly as the build-up deserves. There is still an over-reliance on long conversations at times, but this is definitely reduced in the concluding half – and it must be said that conversations about historical and/or mythical tales are a big part of the identity of the Broken Sword series.
That isn’t the only element returning to the series however, as there are even more nods to previous games in Part 2 of The Serpent’s Curse than there were in the first. A whole host of familiar characters are wheeled out, which might feel like a little too much fan service were this not a game born out of the generosity of said fans. Not only does the story seem to move on at a much more brisk pace, but the gameplay feels far meatier. Whereas Part 1was largely concerned with sleuthing and examining clues, players are treated to some real puzzles to wrap their heads around here.
There are a couple of code-breaking puzzles, along with some involving directing different beams of light and plotting points on a map based on clues you’ve uncovered. These all feel like much more challenging puzzles than anything the first part threw at you and therefore the whole chapter is a lot more satisfying. The hint system is once again robust enough that anyone who finds these a little too challenging can get subtle hints, all the way up to complete solutions, depending on how stumped you are.
VERDICT: The Serpent’s Curse certainly won’t set the gaming world alight, and it is somewhat doubtful that it can do enough to bring many new fans to the franchise. But it is a solid entry in the series that builds on the strengths of past titles. The game does a good job of replicating the atmosphere of the first two two-dimensional Broken Sword games, successfully integrating new 3D modelling with traditional hand-drawn backgrounds and old-school point and click techniques.
The Serpent’s Curse harks back to the end of the golden era of adventure gaming, but it manages to weave an interesting new tale that thoroughly fits in with Broken Sword lore. It may have begun somewhat cautiously in Part 1, but Part 2 really finds its stride and manages to build up to an exciting conclusion. Splitting the game did it no favours, however, and only makes the two parts look very uneven as a result. But played as a whole, The Serpent’s Curse manages to be more than just a nostalgia trip, but it is uncertain whether it will be the game to re-kindle the flame for future iterations.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by publisher.