Nostalgia is a funny old thing. In recent years it has resulted in the revival of many long dormant franchises, with the help of the popular crowd funding website Kickstarter. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse was one such title born out of this phenomenon. Though it launched on the PlayStation Vita in 2014, it is now available on PlayStation 4 in one tidy retail package. But was it worth the effort?
Beginning at an art gallery in Paris, we join series veterans George Stobbart and Nico Collard as they peruse the opening of a new exhibition. Their appreciation of the arts is cut short, however, by the robbery of one of the exhibit's many paintings and the murder of the gallery's owner. This sets into motion the plot, as George and Nico must click their way through their environments, picking up items and piecing together the clues to find the missing painting and identify the murderer.
As is the case with most adventure games, the story is one of the strongest components here, featuring just enough double-crossing and religious intrigue to pique the interest of the audience. Characters include a Catholic priest, a Russian oligarch, and an extremely irritable goat, as well as a group of Gnostic worshippers who are central to the plot. Many of these figures are given insightful and amusing dialogue, in addition to some excellent vocal performances, to bring them to life. The effect of this is arguably weakened by the dodgy animations, though, which presents them with a slightly robotic way of manoeuvring around the world.
The puzzles are another area yielding mixed results. The key complaint is that the tasks often have to be completed in a linear fashion in order to trigger important dialogue sequences. This can lead you to become confused over what it is you have to accomplish, triggering the abuse of the hint system for a failsafe method of advancing. With that being said, there are some genuine moments of ingenuity in the game that will leave you feeling smarter for having solved the puzzle. These occur mostly in the latter half, where one such scenario includes deciphering a code on an old telegram to reveal a significant location on a map.
While the first half of the release is primarily focused on dialogue and establishing the characters, the second part of the game really steps up the intensity of the puzzles, offering an array of challenging mysteries to solve. This pacing is successful in easing you into the more difficult conundrums that the title has in store.
The major triumph of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is the artwork, however. The hand-painted backgrounds are a joy to behold, featuring picturesque views of London and Paris that are yours to investigate, as well as some suspect locations to explore in your own time. A few landmarks that make a cameo include the Houses of Parliament as well as Battersea Power Station, which are recreated in all of their splendour. The only problem is that they sometimes jar with the clumsy 3D models of the characters.
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse is an entertaining title with a few disappointing aspects, including linear puzzles and awkward animations, which makes for a lukewarm revival. If you're a fan of the adventure genre, you'll probably be able to overlook most, if not all, of the shortcomings listed above with very little difficulty. Newcomers, on the other hand, may wish to spend their money elsewhere.