Adventure games have been an industry staple since the beginning – especially on computers. Armed with a mouse, you’re able to “look” around to do some good old pixel hunt excavation, searching for clues to solve puzzles and save the day. For the longest time point-and-click styled adventures dominated the genre, especially those with unique stories, fun characters and plenty of environments to scour over. You had serious tales, hilarious hi-jinks and horrific nightmares all expanding the possibilities of what a game could be while giving your brain a chance to shine.
The rise of the consoles and controllers, however, caused a drop in quality and quantity when it comes to the point-and-click genre. Sans mouse, it was just never efficient to search the screen using controllers and developers knew this just as much as the fans. Some attempts have been more successful than others, but only when they implement some hybrid-like design, like including the ability to walk around freely using analog controls instead of simply clicking to where your character needed to go.
Revolution Software attempts to bridge this gap with their port of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse to the Switch, and the results are largely successful. The game has been available for just about every other platform since 2015 so they’ve got a leg up in bringing the joys of point-and-click adventuring to Nintendo’s console. That may be an understatement, as they’ve crafted what could be considered the 2nd best version of the game yet – bested only by the PC editions.
Playing in handheld mode utilizes the Switch’s touchscreen and I found myself moving the cursor to objects I want searched and then simply hitting the button to inspect it. During dialogue, I’m able to tap the questions I want to ask with my finger and the transition between the two methods is seamless and instant. When the game is docked, however, it takes a much simpler approach by allowing the analog stick to act as a mouse. You’re able to move the cursor around freely while interacting with what you need to.
Each control method is on its own serviceable but it’s a combination of the two that make going through the world that much more intuitive. It’s just nice to know that it seems like some thought was put into the game to make it a comfortable experience for players; new and old.
Controls aside, the Switch version also looks razor-sharp with full 1080p resolution (docked) and plays as smooth as it can without any hiccups or stutters. I love hand-crafted artwork and Broken Sword doesn’t disappoint, and I caught myself ogling the background art as it depicted Paris and other areas. This is a very pretty game when you’re in the gameplay portions, but the FMV sections feel like a step backwards in quality.
When it comes to a rousing adventure, nobody really cares about technical aspects. The story is paramount and for good reason as the world of Broken Sword 5 straddles the line between snark and adventure quite nice.
We begin with George Stobbart, the protagonist from the other entries, at an art gallery in Paris. Everything seems fine until someone comes in with gun (and pizza) to hold up the place. The masked individual steals a painting and shoots a man on his way out. Suspiciously, the masked individual takes a very specific painting that happens to have a bit of a history and a dark side to it as well. You spend time jumping from character to character as you try to figure out what happened. Both of the leads are both charming in their own right but play largely the same as there isn’t much nuance to the gameplay or dialogue options to influence their actions.
Side characters all feel very much in line with something you’d typically find in these types of games as they all need very specific things to be done without little room for error. I found myself picking up all sorts of items which occasionally fell right into the usual adventure game trappings. For example, early in the game you find yourself placing a piece of pizza in your pocket. It’s one of the very first things you do and I remember thinking to myself “Ah. I’m right at home.”
A majority of the items feel arbitrary at best, but never cheap. Using nail clippers to cut wire isn’t a farfetched notion by a long shot and the contextual clues typically help guide you along just enough to get an idea of what should be happening. Getting stuck isn’t a huge hurdle since hints are easily accessible and they tend to start off vague and end with straight out telling you. In a property like this, it’s nice having some ingame reassurance at the ready opposed to going out and looking up quick solutions to a particularly vague puzzle. I mean, I never looked up any walkthroughs before. What do you mean I’m sweating? You’re sweating!
I enjoyed exploring the world of Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse, eager to see where the mystery would take me next. The visuals are beautiful, and the murder mystery plot is fairly intriguing from the start, even if it can feel formulaic at times. Controls are just about perfect, and the point-and-click gameplay feels both familiar and satisfying. If you’ve somehow managed to either avoid or miss playing this one on the million other platforms its graced, this fantastic Switch port is worth your time.