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Broken Sword III: The Sleeping Dragon

The opening scene sees the game’s plucky protagonist, George Stobbart inside a downed plane that’s on the edge of a cliff. Maybe a clichéd situation, but has the hero ever been armed with only a bottle of beer and a crate? Didn’t think so. Welcome to adventure games.

The Broken Sword games, like the Monkey Island series are now ready to take the big leap to 3D. It’s going to be far from easy, keeping the original spirit and mechanics of the game intact. The transition needs to be smooth, to reproduce the true adventure games that we all love and now crave.

Games like this are so rare now. When was the last time you had a good old puzzle to solve? Not the type that opens up some evil portal to the underworld, the type where it’s really racking your brain, like a good murder mystery novel. For me, it was Escape From Monkey Island; the puzzles were completely bonkers, but it was fun and satisfying when you finally worked it out.

When I saw the first screenshots of Broken Sword III, it immediately reminded me of EFMI’s visuals – the coloured, cartoonish aesthetic is simply sublime. Only adventure games seem to use this style these days, I really don’t know why. The game also has an advanced lighting engine, which generates the colour of shadows based on the colour of the light source.

Apart from making a visually compelling title, the developer – Revolution Studios – need to maintain the true essence of adventure games. It’s the story-driven problem solving that makes all games like this so great. The puzzles need to be hard enough to make you work to solve them, but not too hard to drive you away with frustration. Hopefully the developer will strike a good balance between these two.

There’s a hint system for those times when you get stuck, which is bound to happen sooner or later. Block shifting puzzles have been mentioned, but hopefully they won’t put too many of them in. The key to EFMI’s success was the ingenuity and variety of problems and hopefully we’ll see the same here.

Apart from puzzles, one of the emerging strengths of Broken Sword III appears to be the how the story is told. Instead of using cut-scenes, the game will use the in-game graphics and a convincing facial animation system to reveal the plot. You’ll play the aforementioned George Stobbard as well as the French beauty Nico Collard. While Stobbard is larking around in the jungle, Nico finds herself staring down the end of a gun in Paris while investigating the murder of a computer hacker. The game will switch between these two characters at cliffhanger moments.

Gameplay wise, it looks like it’ll be fairly open ended, allowing you to go off exploring the levels in order to find clues or objects. The controls are also looking fairly simple, with a context-sensitive menu system which provides you with choices based on your environment.

It’s refreshing to see a game without zombie killing or sniper rifles for once. It’s time we had a good adventure game, and hopefully Broken Sword III will turn out to be just that.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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