Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars review
The Good: Engaging story and characters, extraordinarily developed plot, beautiful background renderings and animation.
The Bad: Long conversations may put some gamers off this title.

Revolution Software certainly knew what they were doing when they created Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (or Circle of Blood as it is known in the US). Released in fall 1996, this game remains an absolute masterpiece. I hardly know where to begin bestowing the accolades (and I'm really ticked no one told me how great this game was earlier)!

You enter the game as George Stobbart, who is happily taking an autumn vacation in Paris, France. While enjoying the morning outside a small unassuming bistro, George is witness (and victim) of a violent bomb attack that leaves quite a few shaken and one man dead. By trying to gather a little more information on the explosive start to his day, the clues take George deeper and deeper into a thick and ancient mystery. This simple explosion will send George gallivanting through many countries in pursuit of a mystery hidden behind centuries of conspiracy.

Sounds good doesn't it? Well it is!

Honestly, the reason I had put off playing this little gem for so long was the title it was given here in the US. Circle of Blood sounds like a bloody shoot 'em up to me. Boy, was I ever missing out.

Broken Sword: The Shadows of the Templars is a third-person cartoon style game. This may put some of you photorealisim aficionados off, but don't let it fool you. This game is definitely not for young kids. The deep and mysterious plot is designed to be thought provoking and highly entertaining at the same time. Many games utilizing this style of animation have been comedic romps, but Broken Sword is a serious game that contains plenty of intrigue and bundles of historical references. There are only enough jokes to add comic relief, and they are very witty.

As said before, this is a cartoon style game. The animation is extremely colorful and well executed. Three cheers for Broken Sword's art team, for they have taken this style of animation and really made an elegant, mature game with it. The screens are detailed and inviting. The voice-over acting is also of supreme quality, and it seems like this game never runs out of delightful dialogue. On the other hand, there are some rather long conversations, so if you are the fidgety flavor of gamer, this could put you off.

The score is also ambitious and beautiful. It adds a very cinematic feel to the whole experience. As George travels from country to country, you are greeted with music that compliments the scenery and really draws you in. This makes the concept of George traveling to another country much more convincing.

The gameplay in Broken Sword is smooth and intuitive. It has inventory-based puzzles and an easy-to-use point and click interface. The puzzles are very well integrated into the plot. They are also moderately challenging, for there are a couple that can squeeze the breath of life clean out of good old George. The game also has a "smart-cursor" that changes into an icon when a certain action can be performed at a "hotspot." For instance, if you can operate something, the cursor changes to display a turning gears animated cursor. This cuts out a lot of guesswork, and makes the game a much more enticing experience.

At last, a game with a great sense of closure! Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to sink 15+ hours into a game and get a pathetic little "Congratulations You've Beaten 'insert game here'" screen. Even worse, you are rewarded for all your hard work with a 1 minute animation of the result of all your playing and then must endure 10 minutes of credits with goofy pictures of the developers either being overly serious or making stupid faces at you. No, no, no, with Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars you get a big, juicy, satisfying, action-packed ending. Hurrah!!!!!!

But wait! There's more.

Broken Sword is a long game, and I mean LONG. Hence the large installs. You have a choice of three installation sizes, 18MB, 155MB, and 200MB. I recommend the largest installation, because it cuts down on load times and enhances overall performance. Most of the time, installing a game is mundane and boring. Here again Revolution has thought it all out with the player in mind. While you are waiting for that 200MB of adventurey goodness to be installed on your computer, Revolution has given you a little "Pong-like" game to play. That's right! They have given you a game to play so you won't be bored installing their game. How is that for user-friendly? I really wish other developers would take us into such consideration.

After all of that, the only three words I can leave you with are: WHAT A GAME!!! This is a true masterpiece and adventure gaming at its absolute finest. No adventurer worth his or her salt should let this one pass by. If you haven't experienced Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, drop whatever it is you are playing, and immediately push this one to the top of your list!





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Game Info

Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

Platform: GameBoy Advance, Mac, PC, Retro

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Developer: Revolution

The first Broken Sword game. Also known as Circle of Blood in the US.

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Releases
Territory Date Publisher
Worldwide 1996 Virgin
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User Score

Average based on 66 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by Kelop on Jul 3, 2014

Superb adventure with beautiful setting

SETTING The main strength of this game are the locations where it takes place. The variation of places to explore and their climate and... Read the review »

Posted by MrChapeau on Mar 25, 2014

Very good game

This game is good. Occasionally it even reaches in to 'great.' The puzzles are well done, there are some investigative aspects to it, and... Read the review »

Posted by btague on Jan 14, 2013

Best Adventure Game Ever

I've played this game through over 100 times and still want to keep pulling it out more and more. My most treasured game ever. It is such a... Read the review »

Posted by Niclas on Aug 23, 2012

This is how an Adventure Game should be made

This is how an Adventure Game should be made. If all Adventure Games followed this concept, the world would be a better place. :) First of... Read the review »



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Comments

booB
Jun 29, 2009

I would give this game 4 stars at best.

Puzzles: While many of them make sense, there are still a lot of unintuitive solutions, where trial-and-error is the only way to figure them out.  This would normally not be too much of an issue, except that the animations take SO DAMN LONG and there is no way to skip them.  I would likely not have relied so heavily on the walkthrough if I were a more patient gamer Smile , or if the developers had added a way to skip over slow, repetitive animations.

Story/dialogue: excellent.  Was not bothered by the length of conversations, because they were funny and well-written.  Character development/interaction is great.  Story is epic and exciting.  This is how adventure games SHOULD be written.

tentimes
Mar 28, 2010

This is a MUST play for any adventure game lover. I got it for about $3 online and was able to run it using Scumvm (after following instructions in it’s readme) on my Windows 7 x64 system.

There is a depth to the story and plot, sadly missing from most games, which just shines thanks to the superb voice acting throughout. The interactions are visual rather than selecting text dialogue, which adds to the realism.

The puzzles are mainly reasonable difficulty with some real stinkers thrown on to challenge even the most hardy adventurer. From the beginning you will be immersed in the story though, rather than feeling like you are simply involved in a puzzle fest, which is another trap some more contemporary games fall into.

The adventure lasts a long time, but this is an enjoyable journey as the outstanding music and character acting pulls you in from the start making each area believable and unique. I am from Ireland and was pleasantly surprised by the attention to detail and character acting for that area.

In summary, if you like adventure games I cannot recommend this classic highly enough. Stop reading and go play it!

jhetfield21 jhetfield21
Dec 2, 2010

this is my favorite game of all time.i got it when i was finishing elementary school from an uncle of mine.since then i haven’t found an adventure so fulfilling that’s gonna make me want to play it 8 times and break down and analyze and do a background check on every 5 words to see if its fictional or not.in the end apart from the myth/legend type of info everything else was a historical reference and it just goes to show how much we know about the Knights.

Truly intriguing story with very well made characters and connections between them.the hand drawn graphics are a big plus,for me its the best.Actually most of the positives that the above mention are true for me too.

If you own a wii or a ds i recommend you play the director’s cut because it has additional story content that answers a lot of questions that the original doesn’t.

And thumbs up Angella for her fantastic review!!!

redraobyek
Dec 16, 2010

I played this game recently and really enjoyed it.  They did a good job with the upgrades.  But I have a question: where are the game saves stored in a standard Vista install?  I’ve looked in the usual places and I’m not finding them, and I would like to save them (as I always do) before uninstalling the game.  If anyone can help, I would appreciate it!

vixvicco vixvicco
Jan 10, 2011

This is one of the best adventure games I have ever played. I can’t get enough of it. Its what gave me the interest in adventure games and I would never have even looked into this genre (esp the point and click aspect) if it were not for this. Sure there were other games, but this is the best for me.

rederick
Mar 22, 2011

Best game I have ever played for all the reasons that the Angela posted her review on this game. My cousin and I played it in 97’ which was our first game in this particular genre/style. We still talk about the game today and now and then will pull it out of our CIA sealed HQ and smile like idiots while we play it.

Fantasmo!

Enlil
Apr 25, 2012

Very good game. A must play for all adventure fans. Its highest point is the perfect blend between funny and serious situations. Pros: Graphics, Voice-overs, Dialogues, Well-developed characters, Good Widespread Story. Cons: Simplistic and unrewarding final puzzles, Story unfolding and visiting new locations weren’t always seamless and believable (linear fast-track).



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