Let’s Talk About Broken Sword

Broken Sword 1 cover

Forewarning: if you don’t like this game, get out. That is the simplest route here. If you are not a fan of this game then you are not to speak to me unless you can find something positive to say about it. Even then, I will talk you into submission into liking this game. You understand, right? You understand why I’m taking this mighty stance over you, right? You get why people can be so passionate about games, right? Yeah?

Right, now sit down, shut the fuck up and listen:

Broken Sword is one of the most astonishing point and click adventures you will ever, ever, ever play.

WAIT.

I know I said point and click and I did have a conversation with my other half about this when they said: “I don’t like that sort of game” only for him to spend the entire evening I was playing it watching my every move.

Yeah. You only say you don’t like this sort of game because there has never been quite an amazing story as this before. Seriously. I could spend an eternity praising this game for its stellar storytelling but that would actually be doing this game a disservice. It is a PLEASURE; it is an EXPERIENCE; it is probably one of the few games in my collection that I would quite happily listen to and watch rather than play over and over. That is how good this story is.

Now before anyone starts griping at me about what I think they will gripe at me about, I’m going to stop you right there.

GEORGE STOBBART’S VOICE ACTING IS FUCKING PHENOMENAL AND NOTHING ELSE WILL CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE.

There we go. Now that I’ve convinced you… thoroughly… let us begin as to why Broken Sword is your new favourite game.

broken sword 2

EPIC STORY COMMENCE!

Now then, back in the original version, not the director’s cut version, the whole game started with George’s immortal opening line:

“Paris in the fall; the last few months of the year and the end of the millennium. The city holds many memories for me: of cafés, of music, of love… and of death.”

And you might think “yeah, yeah, all very nice and all…” but when you finish the game, you will realise just how iconic and important that whole introduction actually is. It doesn’t spoil anything for you but it intrigues you enough to make you prick up your ears a bit more… hooks you in as I often tell my class of ‘angels’. Basically, you’re in for a fucking treat, I tell you.

So with this, we have George introduced as a slightly cocky American tourist, dripping in enormous amounts of self-reverential humour and sarcasm, who has just survived a bomb blast at a café caused by none other than a clown. And no, I am not making that up in the slightest. It is a creepy, evil-looking clown and he is fucking terrifying in the introduction. So essentially, the whole story is centred around George’s investigation into who potentially tried to kill him… even though he’s more of a bystander in the whole affair. He butts his nose into things and makes himself known to the criminals and nearly dies in several ways as he makes him way through the city, collecting random clues, showing every person he comes across a clown nose, hoping for the chance to be WITTY HO HO HO, and teaming up with the raspy-voiced journalist extraordinaire Nicole Collard, a no-nonsense ‘stop being a dick, George’ kind of character that ends up telling off George far more times than she ought without slapping the cocky twat across the face.

Seriously, there are moments.

broken sword 1

And all of this is entwined with an AMAZING historical back story involving the Knight’s Templar. If you don’t know ANYTHING about the Knight’s Templar, this is ACTUALLY a really good go-to place to find out some of it. They honestly do not pussy foot around and use it as some sort of weird “yeah, the Templar’s are the bad guys… that’ll do” facade. It is actually backed up amazingly well through the storytelling. They give you a proper history lesson regularly through it but it’s not told in that really AWFUL edutainment “HEY, CHILDREN, ISN’T THIS GEE-WHIZZ-GOLLY EXCITING STUFF? DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS AWFUL MAN DID A HORRIBLE THING AND THAT’S WHY HE’S NOT VERY NICE?” way that is ridiculously patronising. If it’s historically significant to the story, they’ll fucking add it in and you’ll enjoy it because they’re not walking on eggshells. They’re just telling you. REALLY WELL. Seriously, I’ve probably been encouraged to learn about the Templars since I played this game. WHICH OTHER GAME DOES THAT?

Apart from Dynasty Warriors.

Just me?

Whatevs.

broken sword 6

George’s adventure manages to take you to all manner of locales and destinations not just based in Paris, but across the globe. Sit tight, people, as you’re about to be taken on a whistlestop tour of such locations as Ireland! Syria! Spain! Scotland!

AND A LOT OF PARIS.

It’s actually far more exciting than I make it sound. If it sounds exciting, WHOOP! IT’S AMAZING. PLUS THERE ARE GEORDIES ON A TRAIN.

We’ll get there.

The locations themselves are STUNNING. That is easily one of the most impressive things about this game. It looks the bees knees. The PS1 version did look a bit blurry but actually, it was still AMAZING to look at. Everything flowed beautifully, character’s moved about rather than standing still constantly and there was heaps of animation and expression to each character you came across. You’ll get to meet such wonderful people along the way too. We’re talking impressive levels of scripting. No one is there to pretty up the surroundings in the background. Everyone in the story has some part to play in your story. There’s no filler; only killer.

And in certain circumstances, that is very much true SPOILER NOT SPOILER SHUT UP.

broken sword 3

Most point and click adventures definitely lack a certain charm to them. I’ll not mention any names at all but when you do a wrong thing and all you get back is “that won’t work”, you sorta start to get sick of hearing it, even if it is a Python-esque voice. At least there’s more than one way that you can be told ‘you suck’.

You will have to try most combinations to actually progress and there are some moments where you WILL have to fail in order to realise what you’ve got to do right. But hey, failing is part of the process of learning. If you think about certain situations logically, you can EASILY work out the answers to the puzzles. If you listen to everyone’s complaints, reasoning, whatever… you will find that the puzzles aren’t THAT demanding. You have to think outside the box at times but everything you need is there. If you keep trying something too much, you might upset someone and they’ll throw you in the river to sleep with the fishes, capische?

HOWEVER.

There is also this.:

broken sword goat

THE GOAT PUZZLE.

THIS.

FUCKING.

GOAT.

I don’t know of anyone who has played this game that DOESN’T absolutely DETEST THIS FUCKING CREATURE SO MUCH THAT THEY WANTED TO KILL HIM.

Seriously, I wanted to grab a crowbar and twat it over the head. It’s not even a real fucking goat!!! IT IS AN ANIMATED GOAT. AND MUCH LIKE REAL GOATS, IT IS EVIL. LOOK AT IT. THAT EVIL STARE. THAT AWFUL DEATHLY, OLD-MAN-LIKE STARE THAT BASICALLY SAYS “GET OFF MY PROPERTY” WHILST WIELDING A FUCKING SHOTGUN.

This is probably the only time where realistically, you sorta want to ask someone for a gun just to end the misery. This is also the only puzzle in the game where logic doesn’t NECESSARILY solve the puzzle. This is also the only puzzle in the game that I originally had to look up on the internet, back in its infancy, such is my age SHUSH, how to fucking get past this bastard goat. Suffice to say it had pissed off everyone else in the same way. Oh my actual freakin’ GOD, that goat.

THAT FUCKING GOAT.

fucking goat

Look at his SMUG goatishness.

D’ya know what? Let’s move on from the game’s only flaw.

Hang on.

FUCKING FUCKING FUCKING GOAT WE ALL HATE YOU.

Done now.

broken sword 5

What this game has is what I like most about certain games I’ve reviewed before: CHARM. This is the epitome of a charming game in a different way to the way that MySims is. This has something else. It doesn’t rely on violence to solve problems. It doesn’t rely on characters swearing their way through thing. It relies on brilliant storytelling, excellent voice acting – and yes it is excellent; fucking hell, people, you cannot tell me that George’s voice is crap when it’s fucking hilarious, dry and witty throughout – and an engaging set of characters, none of which flop in the slightest. There is something delightful and likeable about all of them. The American tourists you meet in Syria are HILARIOUS because they’re married and yet so bizarrely different, you’ll wonder how on Earth they even got together. The Syrian TREAT character that is Arto the Kebab Seller is brilliant. The two gangsters, who vaguely remind me of the Wet Bandits from the Home Alone films (ONLY THE FIRST TWO. THOSE ARE THE ONLY TWO HOME ALONE FILMS THAT COUNT.) in that one’s a complete thicko and the other is the ‘brains’ only not particularly.

broken sword 4

The entire Irish character list are BEAUTIFULLY realised. Yes, you meet them in an Irish pub but the dialogue within this area from start to finish is an absolute treat. Plus, it bloody well looks lovely to boot. It’s one of those games that makes you want to visit the place its based on. Aside from the running over bit.

And there are bombs and killer clowns in Paris.

Syria looks lovely but the game’s most tense scenes are set there sooooooo… might give that a miss for now too…

Spain only has a grumpy gardener to contend. I can deal with that. Mostly.

And there are sewers to traverse.

LOTS. OF SEWERS.

broken sword 7

Get used to dark, underground settings because this game’s got LOADS of them! Having said that, look at the design of these sewers and tell me that you’d be happy to see this underground rather than a giant fucking pipe full of shit. I mean really. Far too gorgeous for sewers, Revolution. FAR TOO NICE.

broken sword 8

And there you are. Broken Sword: one of the greatest point and click adventures. You might have a lot of fetching and talking to do and a lot of bargaining with characters and a lot of swapping items and holding on to random items and all of that but… er… that’s what point and clicks are. You collect random stuff and hope it’s useful at some point. You trial and error things to see if they work, and if they don’t, you’ll get a hilarious quip from George in a “gosh, if only I were stupid enough to try that” kind of way… only slightly more charming.

Seriously, THIS GAME. It’s brilliant and you are not going to tell me any different. You will NEVER tell me any different. Even if you turned around and said “yeah, but George Stobbart is a sexist pig because BLAH BLAH BLAH” – fucking hell, go the fuck away Tumblr. He isn’t. And if he is, he’s a character in a game. He was written for a purpose. If he’s sexist – HE ISN’T – then fine, you can pick him apart all you want with a ‘YOUR FAVE IS PROBLEMATIC WAH WAH WAH’ whinge rant like the twat that you are. If you wanna do that, we cannot be friends.

And now I’m going to get back a toilet brush from an irate kebab seller so that I can jump start someone’s car.

That’s just a typical day for me. What are you talking about?

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