21
Dec
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It's safe to say that while point-and-click adventure games have a very niche market, there's a select few mediums where they work well. Touch devices and PCs have always been prime candidates, as their interfaces lend themselves to a control scheme that isn't overly complicated: click to move, click to interact, click to do everything.

Especially with this year's The Walking Dead games garnering so much praise, the genre could be in for a little bit of a renaissance. With the recent release of Broken Sword II - The Smoking Mirror: Remastered, Android gamers will get an updated look at a game that many have touted as one of the best adventures in the genre.

A bit of a disclaimer: I haven't played the original PC Broken Sword games, so this review will deal with the game as it's presented here. Generally, upgraded titles like this need to be looked at closely, not only for the visual enhancements but for all-around extra polish.

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2012-12-18 20.16.34 2012-12-19 01.42.48

Broken Sword II picks up after the events of the first game, throwing our plucky protagonist into a number of dangerous situations with only his wits to survive. The classic mechanics of a point-and-click game are all here: you'll use different objects in your environment to achieve short term goals, and unravel a longer, more intricate mystery.  For instance, the opening sequence has our hero trapped in a room with fire blocking the door; I was able to kill a venomous spider by kicking out a loose bookshelf leg, which exposed a metal hook that allowed me to escape the chair I was tied to. From there, it was a matter of assessing the room I was in and using the right tools to triumph.

Pretty standard, right?

Where Broken Sword II looks to distinguish itself is the quality of the presentation. Games like these started out as plain text with no graphics whatsoever, so allowing us to hear conversations in fully-voiced audio and see animated cutscenes really help for those of us who don't like an extreme amount of reading.

However, it's still required that you put a lot of effort into caring about the situations you're placed in. Without the proper investment to paying attention to each detail, you can miss key things that will allow you to solve puzzles later. While some scenarios may result in the hero's unfortunate death, it's better to be safe than sorry about these kind of things.

2012-12-18 17.04.12 2012-12-19 01.49.28 2012-12-19 01.49.37

2012-12-19 01.49.51

Some sequences may have the player thinking on their feet, but there are a few where the game stretches a bit. While trying to handle a hot canister that may or may not be explosive, I was told that I may need something to wrap around it. The right object was apparently a thin, lace-trimmed pair of panties which you would think would offer minimal protection against a burn.

It's moments like these that tend to make me dislike adventure games; for every puzzle that you feel rewarded for solving with your wits and memory, there seem to be just as many that require you to throw every item in your inventory onto the screen. Then, if you've happened to miss a minute object in a previous screen (which will happen, as objects that can be interacted with rarely carry indication that you can do so), you'll be wandering about, aimlessly clicking until something works.

I find it's a flaw of the genre as a whole because it takes you out of the current moment and painfully reminds you that you're in a game, not an adventure story. It throws up a roadblock and says "man, you didn't check that tiny pot for a key that was inside it? Sucks to be you!"

Thankfully, the game has a generous hint system that starts off vague, but then gives you specific instruction if you continue to ask it for help. This will keep players moving, but sometimes it just highlights the absurdity of the solution.

As a port, it's hard to fault Broken Sword II for feeling especially dated - fans of the genre will love it, but players expecting more modern visuals and gameplay may be disappointed. The mechanics, graphics and presentation don't really seem to take advantage of the advanced hardware available, and the touted hand-drawn animation has a sloppy tendency to drop frames. The new voice work is a nice gesture, but it doesn't exactly scream top-notch quality; while this is a game working with a 'for-mobile' budget, sadly, Broken Sword II doesn't feel like it deserves the Remastered title.

Matt Demers
Matt Demers is a Toronto writer that deals primarily in the area of Android, comics and other nerdy pursuits. You can find his work on Twitter and sites across the Internet.

  • robo

    You guys got it all wrong. You need to stop reviewing games when you clearly know nothing about them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cblanchard Chris Blanchard

    Alright Matt, I know you said you never played the original, but as someone who has I thought you should know the voice acting is not new. That has been around since the original PC release in 1997. If you read the description on the play store, these are the new features:

    "‘Broken Sword II - The Smoking Mirror : Remastered’ is a stunning update to the million-selling original. Along with an exclusive new interactive digital comic, from ‘Watchmen’ co-creator Dave Gibbons, the game boasts fully animated facial expressions, enhanced graphics throughout, high quality music as well as a context-sensitive hint system, and diary. The game also features Dropbox integration which facilitates a unique cross-platform save-game feature, enabling players to enjoy the same adventure simultaneously on multiple devices and many other enhancements."

    Might explain while the voice work is not "top-notch quality."

  • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

    I just recently played through BS 1 and 2 on the PC and have to admit I was a big disappointed in BS2. Maybe it's just because the first one was so so good, but the second just seemed off, whether it was slight changes in voice acting, animation, or plot. That said, I still kept on through the end, which is more than I can say about a lot of games.

  • musashiken

    I'm sorry that adventure games are not your cup of tea.

    But I'm here to share my experiences with the support team from Revolution Software, the brains behind the Broken Sword series.

    When I first installed Broken Sword on my spanking new Nexus 10, I was disappointed that the in game menus and text were not scaled up for the high resolution of my tablet, making game play a little uncomfortable for my liking. So I emailed support and guess what? They replied me within a day, and fixed the issue and released an update within a week! Now the game is rocking solid on my Nexus 10!

    So I'm definitely paying money for such a great company that respects its customers. Unlike some so called "reputable" companies (I'm looking at you, Square Enix, you suck donkey d*ck for not fixing resolution issues on my Nexus 10)

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Seriously, their support team is great. Had a few email chats with them, and their support is simply great. Their games are priced well too, unlike Square Enix and their insanely priced games ($20 for Final Fantasy Dimensions -.- ).

  • Flo

    So you don't like adventures? My tip: stop reviewing them. If you are biased against the genre as a whole, write a post that rants a little against the dull adventure games. However, don't review one of them here with a pre-built bad opinion. It is not helpful for your readers.

  • glad to be not an american

    You guys got it all wrong. You need to stop reviewing games when you clearly know nothing about them.

    hi, iam an american reviewer and i need GUNZZZ AND BLOOODZZZ

  • Anthony Dellavecchia

    You guys are 100% wrong. This is an amazing game. One of the best of the year.

  • iampoch

    I like the fact that it syncs game saves via Dropbox. I hope all games follow suit, or gives us similar cloud syncing. Heroes Call also does this via Facebook.

  • Karri

    I kinda liked this game when I played it from Steam. It's from a more classical era, and I miss games of that nature.

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