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Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse Reviewed Part One

So what exactly is going on here? Within the span of just a couple of months we're seeing the return of two major adventure game personalities from the mid-90s: Tim Schafer and Charles Cecil. True, the latter might not have quite the name recognition of the former, but those of us who played adventure games 15-20 years ago will (probably) remember Revolution's games quite fondly. Many of us regarded 1996's Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templar and its sequel The Smoking Mirror as highly as LEC's output from that period.

Really. People loved those games. I loved those games. It's not without reason they've been re-released for almost literally every platform ever over the past few years.

Thumb Many have compared Broken Sword to Dan Brown's novels. For something more similar of a higher quality, check out Arturo Pérez-Reverte's "The Flanders Panel"
And here we are with the Kickstart funded The Serpent's Curse. For many this might seem more like an appetizer before the main Broken Age entree, but frankly, that's selling it short. If you loved the two first games and haven't made your mind up if you want to get this one yet, you can stop reading right now and head over to Steam or GOG to purchase it. This first part of The Serpent's Curse is right up there with Shadow of the Templar. I stick by that, and there's nothing you can say to change my mind.

Now, to get it out of the way: Yes, there is both a third and fourth Broken Sword game. The Sleeping Dragon was actually pretty good, though the plethora of crate based puzzles kind of sullies its memory. And The Angel of Death? I've yet to meet anyone who actually finished the game, so I suppose it could be the best of the series. Maybe we missed out on something? Judging from my own partial playthrough though... I kind of doubt it.

The Serpent's Curse returns the series back to its roots. Here we have 2D backgrounds in a very similar style to the two first games. The character designs are a bit different, and though they could have been somewhat more detailed they are beautifully animated. And with Barrington Pheloung back as composer, the music is as classic of a Broken Sword sound as it has been since The Smoking Mirror.

I guess what I'm saying is that this feels more like a Broken Sword 3 than the The Sleeping Dragon did, and not just cosmetically speaking. The two previous games seem to have been kind of... forgotten about... in The Serpent's Curse.

Thumb Some "Director's Cut" puzzles have made their way in here.
In that sense The Serpent's Curse also plays a whole lot more like the two first games too. The crates truly are gone. Here you have classic inventory- and dialogue based puzzles.

I have noticed some... many... reviewers actually have taken issue with this direction, but to me that's a good thing. Revolution promised us an old-school Broken Sword game and that's what they've given us. If you've found the present day Telltale games to be too easy, well, here you go. This is custom tailored for you, the old-school adventurer, at least as long as you are a fan of the series.

Which brings us to the second common complaint, not just about The Serpent's Curse, but about Broken Sword in general: you will find quite a few slices of cheese in the dialogue. That might leave you somewhat irritated if that kind of humor isn't your slice of bread. Me, I take little issue with it. Cheesy dialogue is part of the series and it doesn't get in the way of some otherwise well written dialogue. In addition the atmosphere is as great as you would and should expect from a Broken Sword game; the goofiness does not carry over to the immersive world.

Thumb Revolution has picked some good characters to make a return.
All in all, The Serpent's Curse plays like a AAA adventure game, the first one I've seen in a while. All respect to Telltale's latest offerings; they're great games, but we have also coined Adventure Game 3.0 for a reason. The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us carry over the storylines, characters, and locations that we know and love from the 2.0. True puzzles, location exploration, and old fashioned inventory have fallen by the wayside.

So while we have seen AAA Adventure Game 3.0 games, I'm happy that we now have a AAA Adventure Game 2.0 also. This is just the first part of The Serpent's Curse, yet it's as long as many recent full adventure games. That's a good thing.

In short, this is a great game if you like Broken Sword. If you didn't like the previous entries in the franchise, you will not like The Serpent's Curse.

And, finally: Rolf Saxon. Just like Dom is Guybrush Threepwood, Rolf is George Stobbart. The voice acting he delivers is top notch, some of the best I have heard in a good long time. Not all the acting is great in The Serpent's Curse -- and there are some odd ups and downs in the volume of it -- but Rolf takes it home.

Good work, Revolution. Cecil truly deserves a pint for having delivered this one!