Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon

Brief Description of Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon

Nico in ParisNico in Paris
George Stobbard, an American patent lawyer crash lands in the Congo while looking for an inventor. In Paris, Nico Collard is about to interview a hacker who has information about the end of the world. George and Nico each fail, because their contacts are murdered just before they arrive.

Thus starts a game of intrigue: with a number of locations, a cast of great characters, and positively breathtaking cutscene animations. This may be the third game in the series, but it isn't necessary to have played the previous games to enjoy this one. There is the traditional great story, plus good dialogue between the characters. The voice actors were well chosen. The game has moved into 3D, and George is looking much more realistic and less cartoonish these days. If you have played the first two Broken Sword games, you know that Revolution believes in telling a good story. This game is far more action based then the previous ones though.

Game play and hints

George on a strollGeorge on a stroll
Unlike previous games, this is keyboard based. The arrow keys provide the basic movement, and other keys access the various actions needed in the game. The escape key produces the main menu (and pauses the game if you need a breather). Finally the space bar makes your inventory available. The keys may be configured to your preference from the main menu.

The game is semi-linear. You will only move to the next area when you have completed all the important tasks in this one. But the tasks in any one area may not have to be completed in a particular order. If you are stuck, chances are that you haven't found an item or an action yet. You can't use an item inappropriately, and there should be little of the "I don't know what to do, so I'll try everything."

Save early, save often. There are a number of action sequences in the game where death is possible. The Sleeping Dragon will return to the starting point of an action sequence if you fail and die. However during an action sequence you can't save the game, so saving regularly means that you can quit if you need to. Pausing the game does work, so you can relax with a few deep breathes on the third time George is shot.

I recommend the walkthough at the back of the instruction manual. It helps you learn the interface and keys to use while not revealing anything truly important.

Gripes about Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon

I do not like the keyboard navigation. It's disorienting to be travelling left, have the scene reorient as you move down a corridor and then be travelling upwards using the left key. Worse, if you stop pressing that key after the reorientation, you'll need to switch to the up key rather than the left. Also, if the game camera moves to a 45 degree angle, then is the path that moves to the top right of the screen an up arrow press or a right arrow press? Very confusing.

Some of the action sequences require your involvement just at the exact right moment when a cutscene is ending. The first time Nico died was simply because I only caught out of the corner of my eye that an icon was available in the action menu. One moment too late, and Nico was dead.

Let's have a bit more equal rights here. When George and Nico were together, George was always the lead character. Nico is bright and independent so why doesn't she ever get to lead?

Conclusion for Broken Sword - The Sleeping Dragon

If you love a compelling story with great characters which requires some brain power then this is your game. The puzzles are fair, the game can be solved in a few days of serious play.

This game is not suitable for younger players because there is a lot of gore and animated violence. It is also not suitable for those who hate games with critical timing or where the character can die. There isn't just one or two of these but the game has a fair number of them dispersed throughout. Some of them you expect but some are harder to anticipate.

Some final thoughts on the game.

If you find this game enjoyable, then you should try Broken Sword - Shadow of the Templars and Broken Sword - The Smoking Mirror as well.

I love the references to previous games hidden within this one. Like the poster in Vernon's bedroom which happens to look a lot like the art from the box of the previous game.

George must sometimes work out at a gym. He moves a lot of heavy objects, doesn't complain when you move them back and forth a few times and doesn't ask anyone for help even when they are standing around doing nothing. Good old George.

Anubis was just so cool. You'll understand when you get there.