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AG Community Playthrough #57: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

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AG Community Playthrough #57: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars


[Image Stolen from TheSteelStallion on Youtube]

Welcome one and all to the Broken Sword Playthrough. Whether you voted or not, whether you know and love the game well, or you have never got round to trying that old game people talk about with the infamous ‘goat puzzle’ please do consider joining in. Never CPT’d before? Why not take the plunge this time with an excellent adventure game.

At #4 in the AG top 100 list this is a game which was not only hugely popular at the time with releases on Playstation in the 90’s, on GBA a little later and on pretty much everything else since then, but continues to be popular today. Not every ‘classic’ AG has aged so well, but for my money BS1 has done and still deserves a place in the high echelons of any top x list.

Before we even get started: Director’s cut, or not director’s cut, that is the question.

So obviously, there are 2 versions of this game, the original and the director’s cut. But the director’s cut is not just a re-paint of the original, it has entirely new sections and changes some of what is there already. So how are we going to do this? Well I’m not your mum, so I’m not going to make the decision for you. Choose the version you want to play and we’ll run it together. If you’ve played before you probably know which one you want to choose. If you haven’t then here is some guidance you might find helpful.

For a first playthrough I would definitely recommend starting with the original and here is why:

1. The original holds together as a single story very well. So well that it is rarely far from any all-time top 10 AG list. Many people (i.e. me!) feel that what was added in the DC brakes it up and knackers the pacing to the extent that it is genuinely a poorer game. I found that the extra scenes in the DC took me out of the story rather than enhancing it. YMMV.

2. The introduction to the original game is regarded by many (i.e. me) as iconic, an absolute masterpiece of writing, music and (at the time at least) graphics. The introduction to the DC does not hold the same power (at least, not for me). If this playthrough is your first real contact with this game then make the original intro the first thing you experience.

3. Although there are quite substantial new sections in the DC (maybe an extra 1-2 hours?) The ‘original’ parts of the game have been made easier. Here are some of the changes:
a. No deaths;
b. Some hotspots removed entirely;
c. Hotspot highlighted blue in the DC (interaction icons in the original);
d. Some puzzles simplified - yes, including the g0at!;
e. Some cut-scenes changed – i.e. intro and ending, which tie together wonderfully in the original and don’t quite make it for me in the DC.

4. There are graphical differences too throughout the game including in the original parts. These are a matter of taste. You get character portraits in the DC, but not animated talking ones. The style is not the same as the backgrounds. Some people like them and some really don’t… I think that the graphical differences will mean you can tell whether you are in a ‘DC’ part of the game rather than an ‘Original’ part even if you have never played it before, but it is not terrible. It is consistent enough to be fine for most people I think.

Starting with the original also means you have got extra re-play value if you decide to give it another go down the line.

If you’ve played the original before and fancy trying out the DC, then why not give it a try. If you’ve played both then I guess you already know which one you’ll be playing.
The choice is entirely yours and while I’m keen we all voice opinions about the differences, please be careful not to spoiler anything for those new to the game or the DC and also keep any criticism to the game itself, rather than the personal choice anyone might make on which to play here.

Buying the Game

There is a pretty important difference between the Steam and Gog versions

The steam version is just the DC whereas the Gog version includes the original and the DC together (sold just as the DC version though).

AS FAR AS I AM AWARE, THE ONLY WAY TO PLAY THE ORIGINAL NOW IS BUYING VIA GOG OR HAVING THE ORIGINAL CD VERSION. Corrections to this are very welcome!

     

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So what now/next?

OK, so formalities out of the way, how is this going to work? We’ll break the playthrough down into 3 or maybe 4 sections, depending on the pace and also how many people choose the DC I suspect, as that is a longer game. You will therefore have a set period of time (maybe a week, maybe 2 weeks) to playthrough the game up to our stopping point, which will be given at the start of each section.

For the moment though, let’s just focus on getting games purchased and installed. As I said above, don’t forget to go Gog rather than Steam if you want the choice of original vs DC.

For those who have the original CD version help is available from those wonderful folks over at ScummVM https://www.scummvm.org/, including for Android if you want to get your tablet on.

So please do post if you’re joining in, and if you’re not sure, then please do come onboard, we’d love to have you.

You have until Tuesday 14th January to get a version of the game installed and watch the intro. Feel free to poke about on that first screen outside the café to get a taster if playing the original, or in the study with the dead body if playing the DC. That is the first room in which you get control of the player character after watching the Intro.

I’ll post the start of part 1 on Tuesday. If we’re all done quicker than that then we can bring it forward.

For those who were involved in the Shivers playthrough I ran a while ago I’m going to try doing this a similar way. That is, for each section I’m going to post a list of questions/thoughts that you might like to discuss/answer. To be clear, these are entirely optional – we all want to hear your own thoughts posted in your own words, but if you find them helpful or interesting then please feel free to answer some, all or none of them as you see fit.

If you think they are a waste of time or you don’t want to be ordered around by some idiot on the internet then please do feel free to completely ignore them or maybe just pick me up on my spelling and grammatical errors or something! Wink

Also, please do give your opinion on Original vs DC. Let’s keep it respectful and you might just influence someone in their own choice.

I should also say that I will try and post youtube links to parts you might miss from the version you have chosen if that is helpful. It isn’t always easy to do that without spoilers so we will have to see how it goes.

     

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Finally, some optional things to discuss this week, if you want to. Obviously, please keep this spoiler free, or use spoiler tags.

Section 0: Before we’ve even started

1. What is your history with Broken Sword (first one or the series as a whole)? Are you a veteran of many playthroughs? A first timer? When did you first play it and what did you think? Or for first timers, what thoughts/expectations do you have going into it?

2. Which version are you going with for the playthrough? Original or DC?

3. As I expect we all know, the first Broken Sword game (Shadow of the Templars) was released as ‘Broken Sword: Circle of Blood’ in North America – or maybe just the United States – back in the day. Did any of you play it under that name? If so, were there any differences other than the box art? A similar thing happened with the first Harry Potter book of course, and there are many other instances of name changes internationally, especially into different languages. Any particular favourites you’ve heard about?

4. In my mind, Broken Sword sits on the ‘serious’ side of adventure games (i.e. not comedy like much of the Lucas Arts stuff), but it is amusingly written with some great dialogues, many funny moments and it doesn’t seem to take itself as seriously as some of the earlier Sierra stuff (KQ/PQ etc.). Where do you stand on the serious vs funny thing – do you tend to go for one type of game over the other?

5. Nostalgia/interesting facts time – You may have forgotten, or just not know, that Broken Sword 1 has one of the coolest installer programs I have ever seen – when you’re installing from CD that is. How can an installer program be cool I hear you ask? Take a trip down memory lane, or prepare to be amazed/amused here -

(spin on to about 1:50 for the cool bit). Anyone else remember this, or remember any games with a similar approach to installing?

Even if you haven’t got time to join in with the actual playing of the game, please do feel free to post along with us. The stupid questions above are for anyone who wants to answer them, whether you’re playing along this time or not!

     

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You made a great introduction to the playthrough Intense Degree. Thanks!

The first (and only) time I’ve played Broken Sword 1 was in November of 2000 and I enjoyed it very much, not only because it was one of the first AGs I’ve ever played. How I didn’t get to play it again in last 20 years is a mystery, even to me.

I’ve played BS 2 right after BS 1. Didn’t play the DC versions of either of them and didn’t play BS 3 and 4. I loved BS 5.

P.S. I didn’t remember the brick buster game from the installation of BS 1.

     

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Thank you for the excellent introduction, Intense Degree!

I played both the original and the director’s cut two years ago, so I’m not sure if I should do it again for this CPT. I have however played the game so many times that I could comfortably take part in the discussion even if I decide not to play.

1. The first time I played The Shadow of the Templars was probably in 1997, because I think The Smoking Mirror was released soon after. I absolutely loved how mature and cinematic the game felt and eagerly wanted more. Unfortunately, I found the sequel only decent and even disliked the two titles that followed. Because of this, my expectations for the fifth game were low - so it managed to meet them well enough. Perhaps I should try The Sleeping Dragon and The Angel of Death again considering that I only played them once when released.

2. If I play now it will be the original version. The director’s cut didn’t add anything of value to me, and I found the “remastered” treatment of the sequel to be a better approach.

3. I never played the North American version and I don’t understand why the publisher wanted to remove “Templars” from the subtitle. Bad movie title translations used to be very common in Sweden, with examples like “Police give waitress two million in tips” for It Could Happen to You (1994).

4. Both comedies and more serious games can be great to me. Most serious games also try to be funny sometimes, so it’s far from a dichotomy.

5. That is cool!

     
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Yes, that was a great intro to a great playthrough of a great game! I was really surprised to find out there had been no CPT before. Broken Sword was among those adventure games that drew me into the genre, it has been in my Top 10 for 20+ years straight and I just love to chat about it.

1. I first played BS in 1997 or 1998 (in fact I think it was a Christmas present). Back then I was inexperienced in ags, with only Myst, Full Throttle and a couple of other titles on my tracklist. Never heard of Revolution nor played hi-res cartoon games before, so the intro had a very strong effect on me: the art style, camera work, music… And the first screen with this quiet French street, autumn leaves drifting by and George standing up - all without a single word, just perfect Heart Eyes I had so much fun playing that I completely missed that you interact with the world with both left and right mouse buttons, so I got really stuck somewhere in the middle of the game, only then read the manual and discovered what an idiot I was.

Replayed it like 3 or 4 times since, always finding something new. Last time it was the DC version, although I wasn’t happy about the new content. I also played the rest of the series - BS2 immediately after the first one, also enjoyed it a lot, although it felt a bit too goofy and unreal in comparison. Being waiting for BS3 for a long time, reading all those interviews with Charles Cecil claiming he is reinventing the genre, and was left hugely disappointed) The 4th game was slightly better, but only BS5 brought peace in my heart. Well, I think I praised it enough here at Adventuregamers.

2. Definitely playing the original version. As I said, I didn’t exactly like what they did to Broken Sword - to quote Intense, “the extra scenes in the DC took me out of the story rather than enhancing it”. I also found those dialogue portraits really annoying, and the way they butchered the intro was just too much for me.

3. It was The Shadow of the Templars for me, this atmospheric blue box. But I doubt they did any changes for the American audience rather than the title and box art. They’ve been always doing this with European releases I think, adding “blood”, “mystery”, “secret” to the titles to attract fans of shooters and console gamers.

4. As for the tone, I think they found the perfect balance: some damn serious events and plot turns with many tense moments, and yet it’s one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. In fact even the worst games in the series are full of hilariously written dialogues. George showing other people the content of his pockets, their reactions are among my favourite moments. As much as I love Monkey Island or The Neverhood, I think this sort of serious/funny mix works the best. This is also why I prefer Gabriel Knight 3 and Quest for Glory 4 to other Sierra games.

5. Of course I remember the installer Smile Back in the 1990s my PC was very slow, so I spent a lot of time playing Arkanoid. You never win though, it just relaunches every time you hit the last break. Can’t think of other interactive installers right now, but I’m certain there were.

     

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Great intro Intense Degree.

Finally a community playthrough of Broken Sword, Yay!

1. Where to start? I bought the game back in ‘96, not long after it was released. I actually felt disappointed there wasn’t a big Sierra or LucasArts release that I was initially after, but I got mesmerized by that fantastic blue box design and bought it instantly. Then followed surprise after surprise. First, the brilliant install game, followed by one of the best intro’s I have ever seen, packed with tension and suspense. Then the artistic visual style, great character animation, voice acting cut scenes….and I won’t go yet into story/ending/plot details as these would be spoilerish. Suffice it to say it very soon became my number 1 adventure game and it still is today. There is literary nothing that comes close to the perfection that is the original broken sword. And let’s not forget: The game has aged remarkably well and holds up even today, even though I prefer to play it in the ScummVM window.

2. Original all the way. I’ve played the original about a dozen times over the years and the DC twice, but I can safely say that the original is the superior version. The DC feels like an unnecessary DC of a movie that is far too long and does not add anything to the story and creates pacing issues. The new intro lacks what made the original so brilliant.

3. No I didn’t. It was pretty messy that the game got released under a completely different name and I don’t think I was even aware of it until a couple of years later. Many americans were initially familiar with broken sword, didn’t understand why they couldn’t get it and were confused aswel that the game was there all along. Why this happened is a mystery to me to this date.

4. Perfect balance, with an Indiana Joneseque quality to it without resorting to childish or cartoonish humor.

5. That was the first surprise when inserting the CD. I vividly remember that when I saw the install game, I thought a brilliant game would come next….and boy it did not disappoint. I’ve not seen anything similar in any other game.

     
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It feels odd to play Broken Sword in the Winter… Smile


Great introduction, Intense! I’m not sure I’ll chime in because I played the game couple of times. I will only give one word of advice:

DO NOT PLAY THE DIRECTOR’S CUT VERSION!

If Broken Sword 1 is one the best adventure games ever made, then Director’s Cut is the worst, eh, Director’s Cut ever made! Like Intense Degree said, you just DON’T change the iconic intro - imagine George Lucas doing the remake (wait, he did!) of the first Star Wars movie without the iconic letters in the space at the very beginning. That’s how legendary “Paris in the fall” intro is in the adventure gaming world. Also, the dumb-down has really gone too far - I’m sorry to say this, but which “idiot” thought that removing hot-spots from locations is good idea? And don’t get me started about Dave Gibbons’ portraits. Gibbons, my ass! Perhaps it was his dog. (truth to be told, the portraits were done for DS in mind, later ported to PC)


Whew! I feel better, now that it’s off my chest. Smile As for the game, some might like or not the unique approach of the game where you have a “serious mystery story” with comedy done in a comedy art style, but George Stobbart is exactly that - one of the most unique characters in the line of many protagonists - great voice acting, sometimes he’s whispering and sending shivers down your spine, at the very next moment he’ll crack a simple joke. Fantastic game.

     

Recently finished: Four Last Things 4/5, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout 5/5, Chains of Satinav 3,95/5, A Vampyre Story 88, Sam Peters 3/5, Broken Sword 1 4,5/5, Broken Sword 2 4,3/5, Broken Sword 3 85, Broken Sword 5 81, Gray Matter 4/5\nCurrently playing: Broken Sword 4, Keepsake (Let\‘s Play), Callahan\‘s Crosstime Saloon (post-Community Playthrough)\nLooking forward to: A Playwright’s Tale

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1. I played every Broken Sword game, and finished all of them apart from BS4. It’s installed on my drive, and I’m somewhere in the middle. For about 10 years or so. I played the first game shortly after the release, and thought it was GOOD. With every next playthrough of the game, I thought it was better.

2. I wouldn’t play the DC version, even if you paid me 100e and sent me female exotic dancers dressed in Santa suits.

3. Like subbi, it was only several years ago that I acknowledged the North America version is called “Circle of Blood”. It was always Shadow of the Templars for me. Actually, it was always Broken Sword 1. Smile But I have another story for you - the movie “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood” has been translated in Serbia as “Napaljeni ulicari” (Horny Dudes). Can’t blame them, eh?

4. I play all sort of games. BS (like I mentioned in my previous post) is interesting because it successfully blends both mystery and comedy, and there’re not many games like that.

     

Recently finished: Four Last Things 4/5, Edna & Harvey: The Breakout 5/5, Chains of Satinav 3,95/5, A Vampyre Story 88, Sam Peters 3/5, Broken Sword 1 4,5/5, Broken Sword 2 4,3/5, Broken Sword 3 85, Broken Sword 5 81, Gray Matter 4/5\nCurrently playing: Broken Sword 4, Keepsake (Let\‘s Play), Callahan\‘s Crosstime Saloon (post-Community Playthrough)\nLooking forward to: A Playwright’s Tale

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Can’t wait for Broken Sword, I’m interested in other people’s opinions on the game. I’m actually glad it won.

Hope we get a few newbies who have not played it. Heck, after this I’ll nominate BK2 and offer to lead it.

I played the PS1 version in the day. Then the GBA version too. I currently own the DC version on the DS and will be playing that. Reason, it’s the version I have and it’s great on the DS.

I have completed the game to the first checkpoint which for me took much longer. I also like the DC version because you get more Nico time Crazy

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zobraks - 07 January 2020 06:23 AM

The first (and only) time I’ve played Broken Sword 1 was in November of 2000 and I enjoyed it very much, not only because it was one of the first AGs I’ve ever played. How I didn’t get to play it again in last 20 years is a mystery, even to me.

I’ve played BS 2 right after BS 1. Didn’t play the DC versions of either of them and didn’t play BS 3 and 4. I loved BS 5.

Wow, that is some specific date knowledge, do you keep a diary?!
And I bet that even if you haven’t played 3 and 4 you’ve probably seen most of them from screenshot research. Smile

Pegbiter - 07 January 2020 10:28 AM

Bad movie title translations used to be very common in Sweden, with examples like “Police give waitress two million in tips” for It Could Happen to You (1994).

Ha! That’s a good one, looks like it’s been through every language and back again on google translate!

diego - 07 January 2020 05:08 PM

...I wouldn’t play the DC version, even if you paid me 100e and sent me female exotic dancers dressed in Santa suits…

What? Oh right, well in that case I have an order to cancel. On an unrelated note does anyone want 15 crotchless Santa outfits? … Shifty Eyed

Mikekelly - 07 January 2020 06:52 PM

I have completed the game to the first checkpoint which for me took much longer. I also like the DC version because you get more Nico time Crazy
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Ahhhh, sorry, I had meant we didn’t start until next week other than watching the intro – but I see that I said poke around the outside the Café which doesn’t take account of the first DC part. Apologies – Bad Intense Degree! Pan  Pan  Pan I will amend the post above to make it clear. Still, no harm no foul I guess?

Anyone else declaring an interest?

     

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That’s a very impressive intro Intense Degree!  Thumbs Up

Yes, I’m going to join the playthrough.
I first came across Broken Sword (Shadow of the Templars) in a charity compilation for the PS1, my only means to play games at the time, along with Myst & Road Rash in 1996.
I played Broken Sword for about 10 minutes & then abandoned it as it had too much talking & not enough action!
I tried it again a few months later & this time persisted for it to become a favourite & the game that marked the beginning of my love for the AG genre.

I’ve played all of the games in the series (including the fan-based 2.5) at least twice & the first 2 more than that. I did enjoy 3 & 4 despite being disappointed with the change of presentation so was pleased that Revolution went back to roots for BS5

The version of Broken Sword that I’ve played the most is the DC because that’s the one I have installed on my PC which I prefer to play on over consol these days.
The DC version is okay but seems to dumb down the game & actually the extra parts in my mind add absolutely nothing to an already superb story.
Also you don’t get that wonderful intro until later. I used to love loading up the game just to hear that & it doesn’t have the same impact in the DC.
So this playthrough is a great opportunity to play the original again.

As I’m buying it from GOG it will be the title ‘Shadow of the Templars’. I bought a lot of games from the US in the past usually released by a different publisher, sometimes with an alternative title (can’t remember any offhand) & packaged differently to the releases in the UK/Europe but they were significantly cheaper! Other than that I don’t think the games had any different content?

I’m not a great fan of comedy films, TV shows or games as such preferring more situational comedy but even more so love the inclusion of humour & amusing banter in more ‘serious’ stuff.

Unfortunately as I never had the CD for PC I’ve missed out on the cool installer program first-hand so I’ll take a look at the YT footage.

EDIT: I’ve now got the game installed, watched the intro & ready to go!

     

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My first time playing broken sword was 2006 after I had use of my sons pc.
My first love of point and click had came many years before on his Amiga Xmas present computer which came with a graphical adventure game called “the secret of monkey island”
Amiga died and we couldn’t afford a pc until 2006 and I couldn’t wait to play the games I had missed out on that I had read about.
Broken sword was one that was always recommended.
However I was used to lucasart games where you did not die.
I was not amused when I did so and had not saved my game.
Hence I was reduced to look up a walkthrough where there was a possibility that I might die,
I had not played point and click games for many years and was happy to lose myself in the plot just to see what brilliance I had been missing.
I was not disappointed in the storyline but the constant threat of death and having to save my game every time I made a few more steps put me off.
I played the game to the end and even the next 2 ,3 and 4 games asI had a thirst for adventure games after many years
The least I say about 3 and 4 the better but I must confess that I had recently decided to replay broken sword 1 and enjoyed it until I died without saving my game at some Templar’s meeting or something.
I am tempted to play the directors cut where you can’t die but at £5 on steam for a game so ancient that I have already played I think I will pass.
I wish you all happy gaming

     
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The DC version of the game was originally released for the Wii and DS. This was intended originally for just these platforms. And to be honest, it plays really well on the DS.

So really, it should be DC on DS vs Origonal on PC.

It’s been awhile since my DS got some love, so here we are, having a great time. I have the Dsi XL, with the really huge bottom screen so it is a joy to look at.

I do have a New 3DS XL, but for some reason they reduced the size of the bottom screen on that one, so I kept my Dsi XL.

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I’ve looked at installation game YT video, and my feeling is that it looks harder and faster than I remember from the original game. Of course, its been a long time and the intention of the game was never to offer some kind of winning chance, only as a mild pastime while waiting for that massive 200MB or so installation Laughing

I can totally see the DC version working better on the Nintendo DS. Some of the added puzzles are clearly designed for a touchscreen device. But the changed intro, game pacing and overall balance of the plot and story remains inferior to the original game.

Strangely I’ve never really warmed up to Broken Sword 2. I bought it instantly when it came out and remember being impressed with the visuals and cutscene’s, but I don’t like the Mayan theme of the game and found it less fitting, the southern american sections of the game bordering the ridiculous (primarily the tribe camp) and the voice acting of Nico totally offputting. Her voice wasn’t anywhere near the one in Broken Sword 1 and lacked that original charm.

I liked where Broken Sword 3 was heading to with the 3D presentation and some of the QTE actions, but have never managed to finish it and have gotten bored somewhere half through. Broken Sword 4 managed to bore me at the very start. There was something very weird about this game, perhaps due to the offsite/offshore production choice. Don’t even remember exactly what put me off.

     
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subbi - 10 January 2020 03:49 PM

I’ve looked at installation game YT video, and my feeling is that it looks harder and faster than I remember from the original game. Of course, its been a long time and the intention of the game was never to offer some kind of winning chance, only as a mild pastime while waiting for that massive 200MB or so installation Laughing

To be honest, I thought the same. Perhaps there is some tie to clock speed, or perhaps we are just getting old!

And to answer my own questions…

1. What is your history with Broken Sword (first one or the series as a whole)? First played it back in the 90’s, I suppose ’96 or ’97. I think it was the first Adventure Game since the original Gabriel Knight that I instantly fell in love with (lots of other great games in the meantime of course) and I’ve played it fairly regularly since. I enjoyed BS2 very much, although it isn’t quite up to the standards of the first one. Although this is quite an unpopular opinion, I genuinely think the third one is a really good game, but it did take some getting used to moving those crates!
BS4, unfortunately, is another kettle of fish. In my memory, there are some really quite good parts to that game, but having tried to replay it relatively recently, I just had to give up. I simply don’t want to play a poor stealth game. There was manageable amounts of stealth (for me) in BS3 – I actually enjoyed sneaking into that castle thing, but BS4 was just ridiculous, and the rest of the game isn’t strong enough to support it.
BS5 was back to form. When that kickstarter came up it was an absolute no brainer for me and I spent far more than Mrs Degree would have liked on it…

2. Which version are you going with for the playthrough? Original for me, but I may keep tabs on the DC too.

3. …name changes internationally, especially into different languages… Although it’s not a game or a film, the apparent mistranslation of Pepsi’s slogan into Chinese back in the 60’s always makes me smile. I don’t know if the story is true or just urban legend, but (as you may know) Pepsi had slogans at the time which were variants of ‘Come Alive with Pepsi’. Unfortunately, when translated into Mandarin, it read ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead’.

4. …serious… comedy…? I certainly have enjoyed comedy games, but I tend to prefer those where the setting is ‘serious’ or ‘real world’ even if there is loads of supernatural stuff. Having said that I enjoy humour/comedy when it’s well written. As others have said above, BS1 is sort of a perfect mix for me, serious story and setting with some genuinely funny dialogue and comments. I think it’s so well written and the mixture of the serious events and George’s humorous attitude is a great fit for me.

 

     

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