Releasing almost a year after a successful Kickstarter campaign; Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse Episode 1 launched on PlayStation Vita at the back-end of last year. Staying true to the form of the original games that captured the hearts of fans back in the 90’s, the return of George and Nico (and the 2D point and click genre) was a welcome one that provided an interesting story mixed with a dash of humour.
As with previous Broken Sword games, The Serpent’s Curse Episode 2 is filled with religious conspiracies – this time with the Gnostic Gospels being the centre of attention. Leaving the busy cities that you explored in Episode 1 behind, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse Episode 2 continues the story of George and Nico as they travel to the Spanish countryside in the hope of deciphering the symbology behind the religious, and sought after, painting ‘La Malediccio’. The move away from the urban city sprawl to the rural countryside of Spain, and later Iraq, further accentuates the game’s beautiful art style, with extra care and attention to detail which is apparent in every hand drawn environment that you play through.
Combining these beautiful backdrops with the orchestral score that plays along in the background (which ramps up when you are making a key discovery or an important scene plays out) makes Broken Sword 5 a visual/audio delight similar to the experience that many fondly remember from the first two entries in the acclaimed series.
The main difference that you will find with Episode 2 is that there is much less focus on exploration in this game, with puzzles and problem-solving brought to the forefront during this part of the story. This makes for greater challenges when tackling the game’s many conundrums, but does mean that this entry is a lot more linear than the first episode.
Linearity is not necessarily a bad thing and with the complexity of the puzzles being turned up a notch it means that you will be grateful that there are not as many areas to explore as you search for a solution. However, with the second episode releasing almost six months after the first one, you easily forget that the solution to a puzzle may already be in your possession – with the inventory that you ended the first game with carrying over to be utilised in this part of the story.
Luckily there is a hint system available that will drip feed you the solution to the puzzle you are currently attempting to figure out if you do get stuck – this can be switched off if you do not want to overly rely on this to help you get through the game. Although originally I thought that the point and click genre had found its natural home, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse can be difficult to control when there is a lot going on in the game. At times you can find yourself selecting the wrong item due to multiple interaction points being in close proximity in the environment you are exploring.
Episode 2 sees familiar faces return for those that have followed the series since its inception in 1994. We meet Duane and Pearl Henderson as we attempt to solve the secret behind ‘La Malediccio’, but not before we bump into a pesky enemy of George’s from the original game. Fans will recognise the Goat from the Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars but luckily evading the animal is a little easier this time round.
The addition of these characters mainly serves as a fan-service for players that have followed George and Nico’s adventures over the past twenty years, but it does seem like the events of the first episode, such as the murder that set the scene for The Serpent’s Curse have been swept under the carpet.
This leaves many of the elements that came together to form the plot of the first episode unresolved. Episode 2 is certainly the shorter of the two episodes, taking under five hours to see through from start to end. I feel that these plot points that are left hanging could have been resolved during the course of the episode, but instead the game feels like it is rushing players towards the fantastical ending that Broken Sword games are famous for.
Revolution Software has always told a great story, and Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse Episode 2 continues this tradition. Combined with Episode 1, the full game still does not come close to the length of previous games in the series but the quality of the game and its story do shine through and Broken Sword 5 comes very close to the benchmark set by early entries The Shadow of the Templars and The Smoking Mirror.
I think that fans of the Broken Sword games will love that Revolution Software has returned to the 2D nature and art-style of the original games as opposed to the 3D games that were released in the early 2000’s. The Serpent’s Curse is an excellent addition to the series, with Episode 1 and 2 each having their own strengths and weaknesses, but these combine to form a great, if somewhat short-lived return to form for George and Nico.
If you have never played a Broken Sword title before I whole-heartedly recommend this game as a great introduction to the series. Although there are nods to previous games throughout, you do not have to be a series regular to find enjoyment in this title. If you are a fan of point and click games or games that have a strong narrative and will test your brainpower you will find a pleasant experience with Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse Episode 2 that may very well leave a hunger for more!