The Future of Adventure Games

In the middle part of this article, I dreamed about more responsive and dynamic worlds. Worlds that are lively, where time passes and where NPCs go about their own business. Worlds that are more believable. Maybe there's commercial aspect in this that I've ignored. Perhaps we're just not there yet. However, speaking from my convenient consumer point of view, I have to say that Broken Sword's game world is not always convincing. Although the streets of Paris feature some cars that pass by, the area feels very empty and lonely. It's explained by one of the characters that it's an “early Sunday morning”, but that seems overly convenient. The supporting characters on the streets of Paris are looped in a standard pattern, as are some other characters you meet later on.

The last topic I talked about was the design of interesting characters. By the third game the characters of George and Nico have been firmly established. I'm glad to say that Broken Sword has got the best written dialog we've seen in a very long time. The dialog is snappy, interesting and really makes for most of the game's immediate entertainment value. The game has also given each character its own motives and traits. Broken Sword 3 definitely has a degree of dramatic consistency that I explained in the previous chapter.

I think Broken Sword is a wonderful game. It's definitely a new standard-bearer for adventure games (the last one was probably Grim Fandango). However, the game is far from perfect, and it's certainly not revolutionary. I'm a little disappointed that Revolution only made the conversion from a 2D game to a 3D game without actually exploiting the fact that it's 3D. Broken Sword will probably do a good job at making people more comfortable with 3D adventure games, but it hasn't fully harnessed the possibilities presented by this type of engine. The game is in fact more “classic” than I expected.

Too much of the game is based upon pre-defined trigger areas and hardcoded cause-and-effect. Sure, Broken Sword sure has a lot of good puzzles that work on that basis, but they're the type of puzzles we've come to expect for the past twenty years. The only puzzles in Broken Sword 3 that are somewhat new to the genre -- speaking from a purely design perspective -- are the stealth puzzles. The guards are actually programmed with line-of-sight and sound-based behaviors. Despite this attempt at dynamic gameplay, however, the results are always the same. As long as you stay within one tile of the walls, and no one is looking in your direction, you can just run through the place and nothing will happen. Th


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