Broken Sword (or Circle of Blood) The Shadow of the Templars

From Virgin and Revolution

Brief Description of Broken Sword

You are George Stobbart, an American tourist in Paris. Sitting outside a cafe, you witness a few people going into the cafe, then there is a sudden bomb blast within the cafe. You decide to see what you can find out about the bomber and his victim.

This game could be best described as an animated adventure game. The animations are the best I've seen on a computer game. They look like the backgrounds and characters from an animated movie, there is none of the typical computer-generated graphic feel that you get from most games. Nor the pixelated graphic background that older games show. I suspect that the requirements made on your graphic card must be very intense. Also, I've been running the game in low-res, I don't know how much better high-res could be.

The great graphics of the game are complemented by very good stereo music and sound effects. Music, voices and sound FX can have their volumes set individually. The actors do a fine job on the characterisations.

When installing this game, you have a choice between small, medium and large. Small is about 19 megs of hard drive space. Medium installation takes more like 130 megs. A full install will take 220 megs of your hard drive. I've been working with the medium install, and it seems to work very well.

Broken Sword game play and hints

Basic game play is a cursor-based point and click interface. The cursor changes to show you when you can do something. Be careful, there are some problems with the way that the game is set up that can make critical hot spots hard to find. Another point to note (and one that I missed at first) is that many times you can either left or right mouse click on objects and get different reactions depending on which mouse. There is at least one puzzle that requires you use the right mouse button.

I find that most of the actual puzzles in this game aren't very difficult. It's a matter of seeing what's around in the general area and figuring out what is nearby that can help you solve the current puzzle. Many of these things really will be nearby, too, not items that you've had to carry for a long time. Note the word most there. As is typical in most adventure games, there are variations and this game does have some tough puzzles.

A good feature of the game is the use of maps. As you learn about new locations, they appear on the map. If you have finished with a location, you will no longer see a beaconing hand when you use the cursor on that map location. This helps give you clues about what locations still have puzzles to solve.

This is a game where you can die. Most of the deaths are preceded by a moment (or indeed a strong hint) that if you proceed in this direction, you are in trouble. Towards the end of the game, it is quite easy to die, and so, as ever, save often. Also, there are a few occasions were timing is important. George is also a bit more independent than your average character. He will sometimes refuse to do things like attempt to jump across an open sewer, though he will start to do so if you click on the other side. Characters in other games may refuse to do things also, but most of those games you get a few stock phrases. This one, I have yet to notice any one phrase that keeps getting repeated too often. This is because George frequently just shrugs his shoulders which is actually much less irritating.

Gripes about Broken Sword

Who ever would have guessed that this could be a gripe? This game, if anything suffers from too much plot. Basically, as you go from place to place, interviewing people, you spend a long amount of time asking about various topics and the items you carry. Even more time is spent listening to the answers. All in all, I spent a lot of time feeling like I'm watching an animated movie that I occasionally have to do something. This feeling does decrease as you progress in the game. Towards the end, the pace is much more fast and furious.

The game does sometimes have a rather exacting range of pixels you must find to be able to do something. I found this when I finally found the spot I had to use to drink the beer bought in Ireland. I had been thinking that you there was nothing you could do with the glass. The other problem is that you sometimes have overlapping or moving hot spots (moving is a character who shifts around). You think you found the spot that will let you operate an item and then you twitch or the character twitches and you end up talking to someone when you didn't mean to. I find it irritating.

When you have finished at some locations, the game will suddenly take you back to a friend's apartment. I find the sudden cut rather disruptive, one moment, you've just found/solved something. Then you're back at this apartment.


Plenty of game play, lovely graphics, well written dialogue are all to the plus side of this game. Extensive amounts of time spent listening to characters begins to go on the negative side. All-in-all, if you're patient, it is a highly recommended game for intermediate to advanced players. I would not recommend it as a game for beginning adventure players, frequently finding the items to solve the puzzles can be very difficult if you're not used to examining a scene for every useful object.

The end of the game is excellent. It has a satisfying conclusion to the game, and a strong hint that there will be a sequel. I'll be looking for that sequel.

Some final thoughts on the game.

If you find this game enjoyable, then you should try Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror and Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon as well.

This game reminds me of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father. You spend much of the game interviewing every character about everything that you can. You should also return to people and test to see if any new items of conversation have come up. The other thing that reminds me of Gabriel is the tendency of George to play with his hair, much like Gabe does. If you liked Gabriel Knight, you'll probably enjoy this as well. Conversely, if you like this and haven't played Gabriel Knight yet, you should.

I hope not many games get distributed with different titles depending on where it is distributed. Having two different titles for this game makes it a bit confusing, and much harder to ensure that people can find the review.

Recommended, try reading Foucault's Pendulum while you go through this game. This adds some serious surrealness to the atmosphere.