The iPhone, to everyone’s surprise, has brought about a rebirth of the adventure game genre. With your finger replacing the mouse, point-and-click has become drag-and-tap, but the stories and characters remain the same. Broken Sword is a masterful adventure that a lot of gamers may have missed on the PC, but it is a Must Have for the iPhone or iPod Touch.
The heart of Broken Sword is its interesting story, which starts off in Paris with the murder of a prominent French politician. You play as Nico Collard, a journalist who is about to interview the politician when a mime breaks into his apartment and shoots him dead. The mime is the latest disguise in a series of ‘costumed killings’ that Nico has investigated, so she decides to bring the killer to justice herself. You also play as George Stobbart, an American on vacation who gets swept up into the mystery as well.
This ancient relic looks far snazzier with a fresh coat of paint.
Throughout the story you will do your own crime-scene investigating, like sifting through the pockets of the recently deceased to find clues. As Nico points out, this ensures that there is only one way forward, since you are tampering with evidence from the very first moments of the game. While the path in Broken Sword is always laid out right in front of you, it’s a very entertaining story that will make you think while it engages you on an emotional level as well.
To navigate through the streets of Paris with its ornate hotels, museums, apartments, and underground chambers, you simply let your finger rest on the screen until items appear marked with a blue circle. These are elements you can interact with, like portraits that reveal wall safes, or tools that you can pick up and use later. Since you’re not ‘pixel hunting’ with a mouse, the game sails along smoothly, and a link to the hint system will appear in the corner if you ever need a nudge in the right direction.
While you’re exploring, a few minigames will appear along the way. These include sliding-puzzle locks, substitution codes, and shredded photos to assemble like a jigsaw puzzle. We loved these brief distractions, and wish they could be played all on their own.
Can’t we just smash it with a hammer?
Although progressing through the game is nearly effortless, with no barriers at all in this iPhone translation, there is an awful lot of side conversation. Some of it is very interesting, and provides more depth to the characters and their situations. However, a lot of it is unnecessary, like the way every character you meet has an opinion about the manhole lifting tool, should you care to ask.
The characters in Broken Sword each have their own gorgeous, hand-drawn animation, and our only complaint about the way they move is that they can stroll a bit slowly. For example, if you were pursuing a killer, would you perambulate along without a care?
Between the high-end production values and the fascinating story (which quickly spins off into a ‘Da Vinci Code’-like historical conspiracy), Broken Sword: Director’s Cut is a real winner, even among other classic adventure titles. We hope that the rest of the series comes to iPhone as well, mostly because we need to know what happens next.