We take the iOS build of Revolution Software’s point-and-click adventure for a spin.
Touchscreen devices have helped drive a resurgence in the popularity of the point-and-click genre in the past few years and both Broken Sword: Shadows of the Templars and Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror were at the centre of that revival. The thing is, Revolution Software didn’t just release ports of their classic titles, they brought out remastered editions which added new acts, puzzles, cutscenes and dialogue to titles which many already consider to be the pinnacle of the adventure game genre.
So with nearly $800,000 worth of Kickstarter money behind them, it would be fair to say that gamers across PC, mobiles and tablets were keeping their fingers crossed that the first brand new entry in the Broken Sword series in years, The Serpent’s Curse: Episode 1, would be be the experience they were looking for and for the most part at least, George and Nico’s return meets those lofty expectations.
The nostalgia-heavy opening brings fans back to Paris with Nico and George embroiled in yet another international conspiracy via a curious murder inside an innocent looking art gallery. The opening act is overburdened with dialogue a little, seeming a bit slow and pondering at times, but that’s all part of this series charm really and the pace soon quickens as players progress out of the French capital.
The quality of voice acting across the board is consistently superb and adds richness to already well designed characters with even replacement voice actors for existing characters, such as Emma Tate filling in as Nico Collard, fulfilling their roles in a manner that’s both believable and entertaining.
Generally speaking, puzzle solving veers towards the simpler side of the spectrum with solutions usually involving players exhausting all dialogue options available to them and combing the pixels of everything scene to find whatever item they need. Thankfully there’s a handy hint system to access whenever you get stuck, which offers gradually more obvious statements about what to do next as the player clicks down a predefined list. Recent adventure games, such as The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief, lock their hints away behind an in-game economy system which rewards progression with coins that can be spent on hints, but we’re glad such a system isn’t in play here as it doesn’t feel right to punish players for getting stuck on a game needlessly.
While playing The Serpent’s Curse we had smiles on our faces constantly and that’s mainly down to the cooky yet genuine characters we met and their dialogue which is intelligent but not in a snooty kind of way. There are notable cameos from characters who starred in previous games, but these appearances never get so obtuse that they obstruct the plot which for a fan-funded release is certainly worth praising.
Overall it took us around eight hours to complete The Serpent’s Curse and while the ending was a bit abrupt we found the plot unpredictable and entertaining. The locations too looked absolutely beautiful especially on our iPad which while commuting definitely attracted the attention of those nearby. Let’s just say we won’t travel through Battersea in quite the same way again.
We tried Serpent’s Curse across three different Apple platforms; iPhone 4, iPad and iPad Mini. On our mobile phone the client was a bit sketchy with the occasional crash halting our progress, but the autosave meant we never lost more than a few minutes of play. On our iPad Mini that unfortunately wasn’t the case, as we came across a game breaking bug which arose about thirty minutes into our playthrough, after George gets the security code to the CCTV office. No matter how many times we retried this section the client still crashed to the dashboard leaving us in exactly the same spot which led us to scratch our heads and wonder if an appropriate level of QA was done across different iOS hardware.
Thankfully we could play the game on our other two iOS devices, but iPad Mini owners should give this release a wide berth until these issues are fixed. We came across these issues in the 1.0 release, so be sure to check the iOS store for details on the client before buying.
Priced at only £1.99, this version of The Serpent’s Curse offers a lot of value, both in terms of storytelling and gameplay. It’s a shame some bugs have crept in to blight an otherwise serene experience, but then knowing Revolution Software fixes shouldn’t be too far away.
In many ways it’s hard to evaluate Episode 1 as it is but one half of this sequel’s overall story, with the second episode due to launch this March. That said, there are still enough genuinely funny, interesting and entertaining moments in Episode 1 that it is easy for us to recommend this experience to any adventure game fan. Serpent’s Curse doesn’t quite reach the heights of Smoking Mirror or Knights Templar in terms of overall quality, but it’s definitely a great start. Roll on Episode 2!
The Serpent’s Curse: Episode 1 is a clever and beautiful return for one of the adventure genre’s most beloved franchises. Just make sure your iOS device is compatible before buying.
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