Review – Broken Sword V: The Serpent’s Curse – Episode Two

Please note, you must have a save game right at the conclusion of Episode One in order to play Episode Two content. Episode Two is not selectable from the main menu.

Alternatively, Revolution Studios have released a save file which you can use. Just download this and unzip the two files. The files need to be extracted into the Documents Folder in Broken Sword 5 Directory on PC, under .bs5 on Linux in home folder or under Library>Application>Support>Broken Sword 5 on Mac. Once extracted, load file up under Profile 1

Well, we left George and Nico in a pretty sticky predicament at the conclusion of Episode One, didn’t we?

Episode One really set the tone for Broken Sword V and helped kickstart our exploring spirit. Our two star-crossed lovers kept bouncing between Paris and London in the name of a painting and the discovery of Gnostic history. But Episode Two immediately pulls us away from local territory and takes us to the heart (and heat) of Spain where the purpose of driving the story along really starts to come together.

Developer: Revolution Studios
Publisher: Revolution Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Format: PC, Playstation Vita, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
Price: £7.99 (or £18.99 together with Episode One)

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Do our adventurers ever catch a break?

Of course, it doesn’t take our adventurers too long to stumble upon trouble. George and Nico arrive in Spain and are greeted by gunfire – which is always nice. But that’s the least of Mr Stobbart’s troubles as he butts heads with an unexpected ‘old friend’, the result of which creates some tongue-in-cheek scenarios throughout the rest of the episode.

Episode Two really goes in deep on Gnostic history as you might expect, and gradually, this whole adventure stops being about just a painting, as it drives home a dark, much more sinister purpose.

But unfortunately, many of the Episode reveals aren’t entirely surprising. I can’t say that was a revelation here that I couldn’t have predicted in some way. One of Episode One’s strengths was definitely the script and story-development, but it also created a sense of mystery and unpredictability. Episode Two offers a real diverse set of scenarios, the outcomes of which make perfect narrative sense, but I always felt like I could see the outcome coming a mile away, which did make things feel a tad flat.

Still, the investigation and discovery in this Episode is far superior to the first. This is Broken Sword at its finest as George and Nico uncover hidden passageways and abandoned relics in their quest. And the locations are truly gorgeous. Spain recreated is exceptionally special, as are all the other locations within the Episode. This episode is full of the joys of exploration and really tunes into the great adventure games of old with its non-stop progression.

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At times, the detail is mind-blowing

The puzzles are also much better this time around and very cleverly designed. From deciphering encrypted codes, to placing pins in a map to figure out next moves, and even a fried circuitry puzzle with an unexpected solution. Where Episode One was very much a case of pick up inventory item, click, use and combine, Episode Two ups the tempo enormously and really puts the pressure on the player to perform. Some of these will keep you guessing for ages.

Episode Two is definitely a much more focused and intense effort from Revolution.

But through that, another thing I did miss is the lack of casual conversation between George and Nico. I get they’re busy. I get there are things to do and people to save, but outside of a few cheeky one-liners, they’re all business and as there is a lot to digest in this episode, I felt a bit more light-hearted banter between the two leads could have eased things up a bit. Though there will be some answers offered to Broken Sword fans towards the conclusion of the episode.

It does feels strange playing the episodes separately as they are structured very differently, however if you intend to do The Serpent’s Curse back to back and treat it as one game, then you can argue the banter and light-hearted content has already played a big part and features prominent early on. Pace-wise, perhaps George and Nico already ‘got everything out of their system’ and that would make sense in terms of the overall narrative?

Regardless, this is a very info-heavy episode that takes itself very seriously and you will need to pay attention as puzzles rely on you picking things up during conversations and listening to the historical stories. There’s a lot of detail that Revolution wanted to get in here and it’s good that they have. Don’t get me wrong, humor definitely has a part to play in Episode Two – and is also included in the puzzle-solving – just not as much as Episode One may have led you to believe.

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Not you again!

There were also a few, very slight technical issues in the Episode. During one scene early on, when Nico is reunited with George after spending some time in a library, she diverts from her path slightly and walks through a wall, rather than the open doorway available to her.

During another scene, when George and Nico arrive at a tourist destination, they are entirely invisible. You will eventually see George when you click and get him to walk around, but Nico remained entirely invisible throughout the sequence, even when you speak to her.

But neither are especially game-breaking and certainly don’t detract from the overall gameplay.

Pros:

  • Puzzle-solving is much better this time around
  • Graphically stunning. Beautifully realized locations
  • Feels like a true homage to the original Broken Sword games with wonderful exploration and discovery
  • Some fun new characters, returning favourites and good development for those introduced in Episode One

Cons:

  • Episode slightly too information-heavy with little let-up and light-relief
  • Slight technical hitches
  • Some plot reveals easy to predict and fell a bit flat

Rating:

3.5 out of 5

Overall, a satisfying conclusion to the events set out in Episode One. Revolution Studios clearly still know how to make a great game, and despite some of the plot strands falling flat and some scenarios lacking desired impact, it has been a pleasure to be a part of George and Nico’s journey once more. We truly hope we don’t have to wait so long for another audience with these dear old friends.

 

 

 

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,