Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars
Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars Cover
Platforms Nintendo DS, Wii, iPhone
Genre Point and click mime killing adventure
MtAMinutes to Action 6
Keep Playing? Yes
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Broken Sword is not a new game. In fact, it was released back in 1996, a year so far gone that I barely remember anything about it. I know I did not experience Broken Sword then or even heard of it; I was just a lad with a PlayStation and a little RPG called Suikoden to occupy my time. Broken Sword only existed in my mainframe later on as a cult thing, something people talked about playing, but were never caught playing. I later played other point-and-click games like Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle and Escape from Monkey Island yet never got to try this “classic.” Then I discovered it in my mother’s DS collection (yes, she plays) a few weeks back and found my chance to try it out for the very first time, some 14 years later. And this is the Director’s Cut which, I guess, means something.

As it’s a story-heavy Nintendo DS game, this is only a half-hour review. I hope it hits all the points and really clicks! Um, I apologize for that…I know it was a stretch.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - After some logos of those involved in this creation flash by, the main menu surfaces. There’s three choices: New Game, Continue, and Preferences. Let’s see what’s under that last option, just for kicks and giggles. Not many options actually, and I leave them all at their default. C’mon, let’s break some swords!

01 -An animated scene begins, with a crow flying over some building tops and towards the Eiffel Tower. I know the locale well after many months of grinding Nazis into obliteration in The Saboteur for the Xbox 360. The top screen and bottom screen are both full of action; the top has close-ups and dialogue while the second is more about setting the scene. Seems like a young journalist by the name of Nico Collard has just gotten an interview with Pierre Carchon, a media tycoon and serial philanderer. On her way there, a creepy mime bothers her. And then, just after meeting with this man, the same mime kills him and punches her lights out. Mystery…begun!

06 - Now in control of Nico Collard. I pause the game and check out her diary, which actually recounts the previous five-minute cutscene, but done rather nicely with a solid voice to it. I actually believe she’s a journalist now. Mostly because she wants to solve this story before police arrive so that she can get all the glory. That’s the media for ya.

07 - This is a point-and-click game so…actually, it’s more of a point-and-tap since it’s now on the Nintendo DS. And that’s basically what I do. I point, I tap. Nothing can stop me. I explore Carchon’s office by tapping on stuff and reading Nico’s reaction. This game is evil in that Nico can open and close dead Carchon’s eyes as many times as she wants. Also learned that the mime is called The Costume Killer and he’s made people buy the farm a few times before.

Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars Mime Killer09 - Nico leaves Carchon’s office, muttering to herself, “The police could turn up at any minute.”

10 - There’s a table with a tiny hole cut into the fabric. Fingers won’t fit. Hmm. How about that hairclip I picked up in the other room? Ah ha! A secret compartment below…with astrange key in it. Intriguing. I also love the reasoning that Nico gives herself for ransacking Carchon’s place—it’s because his wife, Imelda, had been rude to her earlier! Journalists. Don’t cross ‘em.

11 - Oops. Imelda caught Nico stealing a tube of paint. That’s what she gets for thinking life is just a videogame where you can go into people’s houses and take their stuff freely. Actually, Imelda is so distraught over her murdered husband that she lets Nico keep the paint. Thattagirl. Still just wandering around, examining things. That modern key won’t open a locked antique door. Wish there was a crowbar nearby.

12 - Talking to Imelda brings up an interesting dialogue screen. I can select faces (Carchon, Nico’s father Thierry Collard, The Costumed Killer) or items (hairclip, cloth, key, tube of paint), and as each topic is selected and talked about it disappears. That’s nice. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering if I asked someone something.

13 - Imelda just asked, because I’m a journalist, if I had any moral sense at all. Two options appear up top: Nico with a halo, and Nico with horns. I know the truth and let the Devil tell it like it is. After some more talk and trashsmacking the police, Carchon’s wife agrees to let Nico handle the case and hands over the key to the drawing room. Time to explore some more!

16 - Things found within: a safe hidden behind a picture frame, a strange stone-like artifact, a carved elephant made by Nico’s father, and stuff she could use to copy symbols from the artifact onto paper. Now it was just a matter of solving this puzzle with the items I already had. Kind of easy to figure out so long as logic is used. And this basically gave me a secret coded message, something about Sub-Judice or whatever. Ah, no worries. Nico tells me exactly what it means in her “I’m smarter than you” tone: Sub-Judice refers to a case that is under the jurisdiction of a court.

18 - Tried to open a door several ways. Nothing worked. Guess it’s back to the front of the house to talk to Imelda and tell her what was found. Or maybe Nico won’t tell her anything. It’s a mystery game after all.

19 - Lots more dialogue options now. I kind of get the feeling I should be leaving the house soon as the police will be arriving any minute. However…there’s just so many different things I want to ask about! Like that carved elephant! Or her paintings! Or…or…or the cat! Where’s the cat?! I know someone mentioned a cat earlier!

Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars Inventory20 - Okay, tried to leave, but Nico is sure there’s more to find here. Guess I missed something.

22 - Ah, I missed something on Corchan’s body. Nico mentions how some people might have a hard time searching a dead man’s clothes. She doesn’t really mind as it reminds her a lot of her ex-boyfriends. That’s…beyond creepy. Found a boat ticket stamped “Bateaux de la Conciergerie” in his pocket. Can we leave the House of Death now?

23 - Nico puts on her thinking cap and realizes a connection between the boat ticket and coded message. Now she knows exactly where to go to next! I say goodbye to Imelda and head for the quayside on the Ile de la Cite. I don’t know what that is, and I took five years of French lessons.

25 - Currently trying to figure out how to get through some metal gates. They are blocking my way forward. I snickered out loud when I selected Nico’s precious carved elephant as a tool to smash her way through; she just shrugged at the idea.

27 - Okay. I have tried seemingly everything. Even attempted to combine some items together to make super items. Nothing has worked. I am forced, alas, to use the Hint button, and yes, I can physically feel my gaming prowess dropping by a dozen points. I’m not happy about this either. The hint states: “Check the gate on the far right. It’s being held shut by strange locks. Take a closer look.” Um, all right. I thought I already did that though…

29 - Son of a templar. I hadn’t realized Nico could walk further to the right. There’s a third gate there. This one is a latch puzzle, and I think I have it figured out. The left latch is a sliding bars kind of puzzle. Will just take time, patience, and trial and error.

30 - Hmm…A LOT of trial and error, I guess. I solved the latch on the left after a few tries, but the one on the right is giving me the runaround. I use another Hint, and this hint is total bullshit. It basically says if I use the third Hint option, I can use a cheat to bypass the lock. That’s…not how hints work. Okay, I do it regardless, as now I’m frustrated with the puzzle and just want to move on. The gate falls back with a victorious thunk and a dark doorway beckons me onwards. Too bad time’s up!

Half-Hour Summary

Minutes to Action: 6

Broken Sword Shadow of the Templars NewspaperVideo: It’s a pretty game, but that’s the artist in me speaking. Will it blow many current gen gamers away? Certainly not. It’s hand-drawn and beautifully created. The animations of Nico walking and interacting with objects could’ve used some more polish, but otherwise, the graphics are clean, clear, and crisp. Paris is well-captured, and I enjoyed the attention to detail in the many backgrounds. There’s even some additional artwork from legendary Dave Gibbons. Can’t complain about that.

Audio: Alas, if there’s one aspect that lacks a punch, it’s the audio department. They must’ve been out to lunch many a days during the game’s development. For the most part, the game is silent. And it only pipes up to play a few notes of dramatic music when you find a hidden object, just like in Tomb Raider with Lara Croft and her out-of-the-way health packs.

Story: Mimes that kill. It’s hooky and freaky and just enough to keep me interested. It’s also great that Nico’s writing and dialogue is full of wit and humor and life, making her very real, very likeable. I’m intrigued about the small connections mentioned so far, like her father being friends with Pierre Carchon and his tie-up with these Templars.

Gameplay: You explore rooms, gather items, get clues, and solve puzzles. I suspect the game won’t stray from this trend.

Challenge: The first thirty minutes were not very challenging except for the very end where there’s two latch puzzles to solve. These involve moving pieces around a board until a path is cleared and a lever can slide freely across. One took some time, but the other forced me to use three hints and a cheat to pass. Otherwise, the point-and-click puzzles are logical. Not too hard to figure out if one just takes a gander through their item list.

Nintendonly on the DS: So, I guess the Director’s Cut part explains why there’s touchscreen-themed puzzles. So far, there’s only been the latches, but the entire game is played via the stylus. I am guessing there will be more touchscreen use in the coming hours.

Would I keep playing? Yes. That mime…I need to see him locked up or brought to justice or just put in a very literal glass box so he can’t escape and enter my dreams and stalk me with his quiet, never-changing grin. Look, I don’t like mimes, but I still want to play Broken Sword: Shadows of the Templars more. I guess that’s me making a point or something.