This review is totally just for me to get my thoughts out about this game because I left a really long review on the xbox game store and pressed back by mistake and it erased it all haha. So this is pure autism, I just have to review it to get it out of my head and never have to think about it again haha, ok here goes.
Broken Sword is one of my favourite games of all time, I say ‘game’ specifically instead of ‘series’ because there are five games now and only two are any good, the others are total shovelware. It was one of the first adventure games I played, on the gameboy advance I think and I played it over and over, it was just really cool to me to have this huge adventure on a handheld. The music, the characters, the writing the subject and history were all amazing to me so I played the subsequent games trying to recapture the magic of the first and almost none of them do sadly.
This game has been out for ages, but it’s one of those games that I buy purely for nostalgia and know will probably be shit so I don’t want to spend over a tenner to get it so I waited for a deep deep sale and got it for a fiver which is pretty much what it’s worth.
I’m not sure if it was released on ios but I was considering paying full price when I get a switch and I’m so glad I didn’t because it looks like a glorified phone game. I’m not one of these people who hated the shift to 3D with broken sword 3, I really liked that game, much more than the second one and I thought 3d with realistic graphics was the logical choice when dealing with the subject matter. A more mature tone is warranted when these games are all about cults and murder and ancient artefacts and crime.
But 5 isn’t interested in tone, it’s interested in getting your nostalgia bucks on top of the kickstarter money they fleeced out of people to make the ‘okayest’ broken sword ever. That’s right this was a fucking kickstarter project, another disaster from the website where dreams go to die or if not they kill themselves a few months later. Proving once again the public don’t know what they want and will pay to be involved in the production of their own disappointment.
Yeah so Broken Sword 5 abandons any idea of realism and it’s basically a cartoon with the animations and graphical style of a phone game. Some of the animations on your xbox avatars are better. Some of the cutscenes are laughably bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy they went back to hand drawn backgrounds but the cell shaded characters was a terrible decision, they look terrible and it makes it all seem like a big joke.
The writing is also tonally really bad, broken sword is famously pretty funny even when dark stuff is happening but there’s a bit in this game where you wax a dead dog to wear it’s hair on your face to impersonate a dead man so you can dance with his drunk wife to get a key to her safe to seventies music while he’s in the room lying in a coffin. I’m not making this up, this happens in the game and fuck me, my brother walked in during the cringe inducing dance cutscene (which thankfully involves no qte) and I had to explain what the fuck was going on and honestly I’d rather have had him walking in on me watching a midget snuff film.
In the other games there was comedy elements but it never crossed the line into absurdity, you still took the game and the characters seriously which you should because it’s about murders and serious stuff, it’s not a my little pony dress up game. It used comedy as a break from the serious stuff, it was the levity that broke up the serious events and sense of danger, that heightened the tension in a lot of ways.
Comedy can be used to lower the guard of the audience to deliver a harder blow but this game is just fucking clown shoes. It doesn’t give a shit about the tone it just wants to have one of it’s villain be a Putin clone that sounds like the talking meercats on that insurance ad because it thinks it’s funny for some reason.
The game is also split into two parts as some sort of retarded marketing scheme nobody asked for. The first part is basically a red herring and the second half is the main plot but they’re both kind of shit. Some of the puzzles are alright I guess, but some are fucking batshit and some make no sense or sounded cool on paper and were just kind of nonsensical in practice.
Like there’s one where you have to make a paperclip sticky by rolling it in jam and then sticking it to a bug who you use to bridge a circuit with the paperclip using biscuit crumbs to attract the bug because you can’t reach it yourself. Somehow I got this puzzle right away but I almost had to slap myself and just go ‘what the fuck was that?’I mean what were they thinking?
I can’t imagine how angry I would’ve been if I got stuck on it haha. But somehow I was in tune with the game’s broken logic.
Then there’s a puzzle where you have to decrypt a telegram with a substitution cipher. And it was pretty challenging so I used a hint. The hint system works like this, it gives you a vague clue, then another one and then it just fucking tells you answer.
And the hint told me that telegrams always end with the word ‘Stop’ and I was like ‘dat makes sense’ then I started thinking ‘who would know that?’ What child picking this game up for the first time would know how a telegram worked? And then I started thinking but how would you encode a telegram? And why would the ‘Stop’s be encoded? Aren’t they like that so they can be transferred between telegraph posts?
Then there’s this other puzzle where you have to translate this tablet with this key but none of the keys are on the translated part and it was an ok puzzle but some of the puzzles are so easy that to go from some of the puzzles to this was just like wtf?? The difficulty is just really inconsistent.
The storyline is total garbage the characters are pretty cringe, it’s about gnosticism this idea that god and the devil are equals keeping the world in balance. The writing is just unbearable, I remember combing through every line in the first games, in this I skipped most of it because I can’t stand the pauses between lines of shitty dialogue. Every line they do this irritating unnatural pause.
Also this sounds like a nitpick, but why can’t George run? I don’t give a shit if it’s not immersive that this patent lawyer is running all over the place, he can glue a dead dogs fur to his face but he has to walk around the room like he needs a stroller. I remember activating a puzzle and having to do it over and over and each time he had to walk between these two points and I just had to watch as he casually worked between these spots for no other reason than having a run animation would be too much of a step away from the nostalgia of the original.
Yeah his walking speed was also annoying in the originals, it’s ok to improve on things like that. But that’s the main problem with this game, it’s just trying to copy the original, it’s playing it safe in every respect. It just wanted to clock in make a bog standard copy of broken sword 1 and get it’s nostalgia cheque and punch out. There’s no innovations in gameplay or story. There weren’t even any fail states, in the original games you can die, you can fail and be murdered even in the gameboy advance version. In this you literally can’t fail and it even has some choices you can make that add up to nothing.
It sort of hints that you can choose between lucifer or god or keep the balance but it’s total bullshit there’s no choice, there’s only one ending, because they couldn’t be bothered to write any other endings and they’re already planning a sequel and can’t have an ambiguity in the canon.
The ending is totally pants too. You’re dealing with something that can kill a god and it’s just sort of the standard ‘oh we entered the cave then blew everything up and then run away dramatically’ bit.
All this build up to just basically a fart of an ending. It was underwhelming and I just couldn’t stand any of the characters outside of George and Nico, they were just badly written, none of the villains seemed very threatening, they were just cheesy and cartoony. There was no tension, no bite, no threat whatsoever, it felt like it was totally just aimed at kids. It was just meh, minimum effort with phone game tier puzzles.
It just doesn’t really go anywhere, you never learn about who created the painting the game is about or why, it’s all very surface level stuff, there isn’t a lot of history or depth to the story. In Broken sword 1 you felt the history and you felt like you were a part of the history and you were delving deeper into it but there was always mystery there like you’d never know the whole truth picking through the bones of the past.
I mean when it comes down to games like this you need to fucking bring it with the characters and the story and the puzzles because it’s all the game has. There are tons of games that have all those things as well as combat systems and dialogue trees and all this extra stuff. So when a game is so simple you really need to nail the limited things you have to offer. You can’t give a game a pass on it’s puzzles and story when that’s the game.
So overall if you’re a broken sword fan like me, get it, but get it for the right price, don’t pay twenty quid for this game, it’s not worth it in time spent or the quality of the game. Get it on sale, get a digital copy and save your money and think twice before picking up Broken Sword 6 because it’ll be more of this nostalgia gouging bullshit.
Also I was thinking back to the previous games and I realised I haven’t even played Broken sword 4 but I looked it up and it has the worst reviews of all the Broken sword games. So it’s surprising 5 came out at all and was as average as it turned out to be.