Comic books, sequential art, graphic novels, whatever you want to call them, the video games industry seems absolutely hell bent on capitalising on this century old art form of superheroes and spandex. We’ve had various attempts at putting comic books onto consoles and with the exception of Batman: Arkham Asylum (which frankly owes more to the films than the graphic novel of the same name) it just hasn’t been all that successful. We’ve had the fairly weak ‘motion comics’ for the likes of Dead Space and Uncharted 2, ‘digital comics’ arriving on the PSP that add absolutely nothing to the experience of reading and even Capcom trying, to little avail, to translate the (appropriately) paper thin Street Fighter universe to paperback form. No one, it seems, can get it right. Until now.
Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut is the perfect blend of comic book and video game. Superbly paced and beautiful to behold, it is an essential purchase for anyone with the remotest interest in gaming on the go, classic adventure games or simply a compelling narrative.
Revolving around The Knights Templar and a global conspiracy, Broken Sword was originally released in 1996 to much critical acclaim. This re-release finds the game just as entertaining and relevant, George Stobbart, the American tourist out of his depth, is just as likeable as he was the first time round Paris, Lochmarne, Syria and beyond, as is Nicole Collard, the French investigative journalist. Nico’s story and background feels a lot more fleshed out in this edition, especially after the inclusion of Director’s Cut exclusive sections that utilise the touch screen controls in puzzle solving. The emphasis feels shifted somewhat from solely focusing on Stobbart, providing a different angle (and shedding further light) on the often complex narrative.
This new content goes some way to ensuring that the experience for veteran players feels fresh, even after 14 years, though thankfully this isn’t the only part of the game that has changed. The point and click interface that so hampered the translation to consoles of the time is essentially gone, replaced with an elegantly contextual, touch screen control method that fits Apple’s mobile gaming platform perfectly. Tony Warriner and Joost Peters deserve real commendation for the mechanical guts of Broken Sword; it fires up quickly, is a technical tour de force and enables the title to be approached in a more piecemeal fashion, perfect for that ten minute bus ride to work.
Helping bring the art bang up-to-date is Dave Gibbons, whose new animations and cut scenes are some of this comic book legend’s best work to date. His time spent at 2000AD, Marvel and DC is clearly evident in the evolution of the title’s near graphic novel presentation, with new, almost panel in panel sequences being just one of the highlights on offer.
Charles Cecil though is quite obviously the guiding hand here, his vison of a traditional adventure for the twenty first century being a big step forward for the struggling genre. Clearly he understands his audience, painting a more detailed picture of a beloved universe, though perhaps his greatest achievement here is making the game relevant for a wider market. The implementation of a hint system and memory jogging diary seems simple enough, but it guarantees that frustration never quite kicks in when tackling some of the fiendish puzzles along the way.
It’s this perfect storm of Gibbons, Cecil, Warriner and the rest of the creative team, that makes Broken Sword: The Director’s Cut worth every penny of the £3.99 asking price. A stylish, mature, sophisticated adventure, Revolution Software should be very proud, they’ve collectively produced one of the best games on iPhone thus far.
MLG Rating: 9/10