“Paris in the fall, the last months of the year and an end to the millennium. The city holds many memories for me. Cafés, music, of love… and of death” This is the opening line of an absolute gem that I remember playing when I was young, the one of a kind Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars. Little did I realise that I was playing something original until I started to look for clues instead of kill the enemies, which was what I had been used to in every other game I played.
The fact that it was left to me to makes decisions like whether I should or shouldn’t give the barmaid a drink because she was shaken up by an explosion. Or the sense of freedom with most conversations you had with random people, even just a yes or no option response to a question asked. Released in 1996 for PC and PlayStation, it took everything that we thought made a game cool like running and shooting mixed with a load of action, into a character focused point and click adventure.
You play as George Stobbart, a tourist on vacation in Paris. Minding his own business, he suddenly falls victim of a huge explosion outside one of many cafes in Paris. George being George, he takes it upon himself to find out the reason behind the bombing. As he meets many people on his journey, including your partner Nico Collard! A “don’t take no crap from no one” journalist who is just as curious about the bombing as George is. You go to many locations within and out of France and it is purely fantastic.
I had the chance to catch up with Charles Cecil, the creator of Broken Sword, at EGX 2015 and I asked him a question I’d always wanted to ask; ‘How many concepts does each character go through’, as I just can’t imagine George or Nico looking like anyone else as the characters seem so alive, and true enough, while the characters undergo many changes from initial concept, the general character concept stayed true. A praise must be given to the voice actors as they really got inside of their role and played their characters brilliantly.
I understand that this game won’t be for everyone because not all people will like point and click games but neither did I until I played this game. In fact, it’s because of this game I’m heavily into story driven games rather than mindless shooting. I also think everyone loves a decent story in every form of medium and Broken Sword is among one of the best stories in gaming.
Due to its popularity, Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars got a re-release in 2009 as a Director’s Cut, this has a different opening with Nico rather than George in the original and a few extra scenes involving Nico’s past that works beautifully with the story as a whole, however the opening line I stated this review with has gone! But it’s fine, just playing Broken Sword again brings back all the memories I had with my Dad, trying to figure out what to do, arguing over the controller and the great sense of achievement when we completed it! For this reason, Broken Sword shall always remain a huge favourite.