supermooseman's Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (PC) review

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A true adventure gaming delight in every way

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (known as Circle of Blood in the United States) is a 1996 point-and-click adventure game that was developed by English-based Revolution Software. The game will take you literally across the world, and follows a vast variety of deep characters with an ever-expanding plot. All of this, and more, adds up to produce an amazing game that cannot be missed.

You play as George Stobbart, a patent lawyer by profession, but a likeable, cheery American by nature. After witnessing a clown blowing up a small Paris bistro and killing a man, George sets out to track down the circus terrorist, but he soon finds out that there is much more than meets the eye. The bomb turns out to be a small part in a deep, ancient history of the Knights Templar and George can't help but get to the bottom of it all, and stop whatever evil the reformed group are planning.

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George soon meets Inspector Rosso and his colleague inside the cafe, which signifys only the beginning of a vast array of unique characters. Ranging from the evil Syrian assassin Khan to the smooth-talking Nico Collard, everyone has a different personality and a voice to match. Since the game sees you flying to locations such as Scotland and Syria, good voice acting is a requirement, and luckily Broken Sword matches it, then exceeds it for good luck. Emotion runs through every single line spoken, and it really emerges you in the experience. As an added touch, the voices even echo when in large locations such as churches.

After taking a quick glance at the screenshots, you would be easily mistaken for thinking that this is a childish game. What you get, however, is something completely different. The vibrant, smooth visuals hide a serious touch to the game, so don't be surprised when you walk into the cafe and see Plantard's dead body laying on the floor. However, jokes are sprinkled throughout the game to add comic relief, and the story never feels depressing, only interesting. The beautiful scenery bring real life to the game, and the animated cutscenes help spice things up throughout -- even the sewer looks nice! A huge high five to the art team of the game, they've done a stellar job.

Music is used brilliantly throughout, whether it is to signify that something important is about to happen, or that George should be wary about continuing on his current path. Violin playing accompanies the Irish pub, and a fast-paced action track goes along side a train climb towards the end of the game. The only downside to the audio is that sometimes it is not used at all, and this instantly gives a sense of emptiness to the scene and takes you away from the moment for a second. Sound effects are also used sparingly, and a few more 'clicks' or 'taps' would have been welcome.

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As mentioned earlier, Shadow of the Templars is a point-and-click game. If you're unaware, it's the most simplistic and most complex types of gameplay out there. All with a single click George can either talk to people, pick up objects, look at them or use them in whatever way. It is up to the player to figure out what they have to do to progress, with subtle hints coming from the characters. The puzzles are challenging, although they do not get frustrating. There is always a straightforward solution and the satisfaction you receive when you figure it out cannot be beat in any other genre.

A superb game in every single way, and one that any adventure lover cannot miss out on. The intricate plot and characters, mixed with the great puzzles and musical score just make Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars an unbeatable game and a true masterpiece. Take your time with it, soak up the stunning art and enjoy the twist that meets you at the end.

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