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

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I have the impression they are still the same ones. If this is not the case, then I’d have to check it out again and have a more thorough look…..but I’m pretty sure these backgrounds weren’t redrawn and the likelihood they were able to scan them from the original source at a higher detail

I have to agree, it’s the same graphics, they are not redrawn in any way.  They are just rescanned at a higher detail level. To me, the DC version is best played on the DS which is what it was created for.

Honestly, I was surprised that the DC version was converted to PC. I mean, why? The original was just fine as it was. Anyway, I hope that which ever version the players choose to play, they are having fun and will be posting all their opinions of the game soon,

Obviously for me, I have a marked bios for playing adventure games on the DS and I have TONS of PC to DS conversions games on the DS, One of my very favorite PC conversions on the DS was The Last King of Africa, which on the DS was a very playable game.


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Ireland

I’ve concluded this section which seemed to be quite short & I may have more to add.
I’m pretty sure that the time in Ireland will forever remain as my favourite section of the game for so many reasons like location, characters, dialogue & puzzles - I can’t think of anything else & why they would be more special in this part but for some reason they are! Laughing 

George apparently arrived in a tiny village outside of Dublin accessible publicly by one bus a day.

Just the whole depiction of the area, the pub & the route to the castle just oozed to me rural Ireland. But that’s where the stereo-typing comes in I’m sure.
I haven’t been to Ireland but have been to small local places where everyone in the whole world would know you so the whole scenario along with the dialogue there didn’t seem unrealistic & out of place.

I loved the whole depiction of the Irish Pub with the music coming from the fiddler which was a nice touch.
I can’t really pinpoint a favourite character here as they all had their individual personalities. As for voice-acting it didn’t seem to be bad but for the most part the script detracted as it was so funny! 

I think the Ireland part for me had most of the funniest quips e.g. -
“Have you seen a clown” - “Here in Lochmarne everyone looks like a clown” etc, etc but there were so many it’s hard to just pick a few.

My favourite puzzle has to be the goat one - playing the original again I thought it was going to be more complicated than I remembered but actually no & it has to sit amongst the best puzzles ever whatever. But I did also really enjoy the challenge of getting the electric on in the pub which I found a challenge at the time due to the hotspots for the glass washer & the plug being so close together so kept missing the switch.
In my original PS1 playthrough I remember having to try 50+ times (so I guess there was a bug?) to wet the cloth & get to the dig to use it on the ground before it dried out - I only had to do it twice on this playthrough.

The voice-acting probably ranges from superb to believable but when characters are talking you’re always distracted by interesting & witty dialogue - for me they dominate the voice-acting.

I’m up to date!   
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N.B. On the subject of graphics - I’m paying attention as I’ve taken some screenshots from the beginnings of BS DC which I still have loaded to try & compare with those from the original version which I’m currently playing.

     
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Every chapter and location in Broken Sword is very well done and balanced in narrative and puzzles, however Ireland is not my personal favorite….it’s probably my least favorite location Laughing ....though this sounds negative it really isn’t because Broken Sword is my personal nr1 adventuregame, so even my least favorite location is a pretty good one.

My main reason is primarily due to the Pub area where the music being a bit too repetitive for my taste and some of the conversations in the pub drag on a bit too long…and with 5 characters to extensively talk to I felt the pacing could be a bit better. The castle scene however, I do like a lot with the goat puzzle and the revelation below stairs.

     
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Having a think about what you said subbi I wouldn’t be surprised if this location was the least popular for other players too?
Yes, there weren’t so many locations & there was a lot of dialogue much of it irrelevant although I liked it better this time but will confess to finding it bordering on boring the first few times I played the game!
The emphasis in this chapter did seem to be on the dialogue & a bunch of ‘uninteresting old men’ so understand what you mean by the pacing. But, I did & still do love the ambience of the whole place.

I guess you tried getting George completely drunk & talking to young Liam outside?

I think another reason that I really loved this part is that finding the gem which completely moved the game on was done on a backdrop of triviality & seemingly normalness -  if that makes sense?   

     
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Intense Degree - 14 January 2020 11:59 AM

You have until Tuesday 28 January to complete that. If we all rattle through quicker than that, then we can easily bring the date forward.

Where are you Intense Degree?
I’m not sure it’s my call to say this but a 2 week break does spoil the flow of a playthrough & we’re waiting…....  Smile

     
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chrissie - 28 January 2020 11:09 AM

Having a think about what you said subbi I wouldn’t be surprised if this location was the least popular for other players too?
Yes, there weren’t so many locations & there was a lot of dialogue much of it irrelevant although I liked it better this time but will confess to finding it bordering on boring the first few times I played the game!
The emphasis in this chapter did seem to be on the dialogue & a bunch of ‘uninteresting old men’ so understand what you mean by the pacing. But, I did & still do love the ambience of the whole place.

I guess you tried getting George completely drunk & talking to young Liam outside?

I think another reason that I really loved this part is that finding the gem which completely moved the game on was done on a backdrop of triviality & seemingly normalness -  if that makes sense?

No, I haven’t. Is that even possible? I wasn’t aware you actually could. I need to go back and try it out then Laughing
Yes, you almost stumble upon it….I was rather expecting it to be in the castle the first time I played. What would have happened if the gem fell into the sewer rather than the pub cellar? That could have easily happened aswel, so it was a lucky strike it went straight into the cellar Anyways, that is what I love about the locations and chapters upcoming, the secrets and mysteries you start to uncover more by sleuthing rather than chance Laughing

     
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chrissie - 28 January 2020 11:53 AM
Intense Degree - 14 January 2020 11:59 AM

You have until Tuesday 28 January to complete that. If we all rattle through quicker than that, then we can easily bring the date forward.

Where are you Intense Degree?
I’m not sure it’s my call to say this but a 2 week break does spoil the flow of a playthrough but none-the-less we’re waiting…....  Smile

Yes, indeed. Are we all catch-ed up by now? I’m getting pretty far ahead now as once I’m playing Broken Sword I can’t put this game down for too long Laughing
I can probably start commenting immediately on the chapters and locations up until the next checkpoint.
Good thing is that there is much more to discuss and to comment on.

     
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Ok, I’m also done. Some thoughts on the game which I haven’t played for, like, 10 years (currently playing the original version as DC didn’t work for me at all, everything felt artificial).

1. Still very enjoyable. I forgot some dialogues at the cafe, hotel and pub, but remember most of the scenes so far. In fact I discovered some more by trying different dialogue combinations at the beginning which led to different reactions from the policemen and the waitress.

2. Graphically the game holds very well. I’ve been to Paris (i.e. “the good old” Paris) and Irish pubs and everything in the game looks authentic and atmospheric. Some backgrounds do feel a bit lazy/dated, like the police station or that backyard after the sewers. But it’s compensated by lovely cutscenes and animations with George searching, touching, kicking, breaking and stealing his environment. So much attention to detail. Puzzles are on the easy side, although back in the day I was completely stuck on the manuscript/goat puzzles. They are strategically well-placed for a novice and require some out-of-the-box thinking, they get my praise.

4. I’m not a fan of long dialogues these days and I don’t listen to all of them, but they are enjoyable nevertheless, witty and informative. As always, I love showing all my stuff to people for their reactions. My favourite items so far are the tool and the soggy tissue, great fun.

5. The interface is alright. I already wrote how I missed the “look” button on my first play which was frustrating.

6. My fav dialogue line with sergeant Moue (except for “I’m innocent! I’m American!”):
-Did you steal the tool?
-No, the construction worker asked me to look for his hole and his belongings.
-You certainly know how to enjoy your vacation.

And later while talking to Lady Piermont:
-Are you on vacation?
-No, I’m on holiday, me dear.

Also if you don’t close the tap at the pub’s basement you may hear the funniest part of George’s story about his sleepless night in Ireland.

7. Yes, some characters are too flat, like the pair of bandits (“a bear and a lizard”, even George admit that) or sergeant Moue who struck me as incredibly silly and cartoonish at the beginning (the whole “stop holding your breath” tirade), but he gets better later on. The Irish section was better imho, everyone was believable and Irish enough.

     

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I’m not sure it’s my call to say this but a 2 week break does spoil the flow of a playthrough & we’re waiting

It seems that we have 4 people playing and we are all ready to go for more. This CPT would go much smoother and would flow better in weekly increments. Anyway, it’s time to play more of the game, hope we get lucky and Intense Degree posts soon.

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Guys, really sorry for the delay, got some real life stuff on. Will post section 2 today.

EDIT: And to answer some of my own questions:

Paris

1. How does it feel to be back in the world of Broken Sword?/2. How do you feel this first section has aged in terms of graphics and puzzles?

As always it feels great! There is something really comforting about being back in this game world but it’s really great to do it as a community playthrough, makes me sit up and take notice of the place again even though it’s so familiar.

As others have said I absolutely love the intro too, sets the scene so perfectly and explains so much with so few words.

Like Subbi, I love the way that the whole first section hangs together as one ‘task’ or ‘puzzle’. People talk all the time about how puzzles in AG’s should advance the narrative and not just be arbitrary obstacles or ‘filler’ and I think that this first Paris section of Broken Sword is pretty much the gold standard of this approach. I think that the whole docks scene in BS2 is another great example of this. For me the puzzles haven’t aged at all and the graphics feel fine.


6. What’s your favourite puzzle/character/line of dialogue from this section?
Too hard to pick a puzzle, but in terms of the dialogue it’s probably got to go to:

George: You speak very good English for a French girl.
Nico: Thanks. You speak very good English for an American.


Ireland

7. One criticism that is sometimes levelled at the Broken Sword franchise is that the characters are all extreme caricatures and although they may be entertaining they are in no way believable. What do you think about the portrayal of Ireland/The Irish in this section?

So while I would agree that most of the characters in Broken Sword are larger than life and do emphasize commonly believed characteristics about certain types of people, it is done amicably and sensitively for my money. Where there might be ‘stereotypes’ involved, they are never unkindly meant and you always end up liking the characters – or at least disliking them for good reasons. Bad characteristics are bad full stop, not because they belong to any one particular nationality.

The Irish sense of humour seems to permeate this section and the characters and writing seem to chime well with some of the Irish comedy I have seen. Just as with mad old English Lady Piermont in the Hotel Ubu.

8. What’s your favourite puzzle/character/line of dialogue from this section?
Lots of brilliant characters in Ireland and so many brilliant lines. I think my favourite has to go to:

They have only the one bicycle between them. In a question of superior acceleration , I’d put me money on the Ferrari…

subbi - 26 January 2020 02:09 PM

I was wondering: Are there any graphical differences between the original and the DC (outside of the added portraits) for the scenes that are included in both? I was under the impression they are exactly the same.

I think that the only differences are where there are extra bits added to old scenes, i.e. in the Café there is a new way of examining the body…

Same with checking the trousers in the hotel and probably one or two other bits I can’t think of atm.

     

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Section Two: Caverns and Caves… (and Carchons?)

OK, we’ve tracked a Clown in Paris, just missed a Leprechaun in Ireland, heard about the mysterious Templars and met quite an assortment of characters of differing nationalities and levels of sanity! Now the plot begins to thicken as we follow up leads and travel a little more widely…

Play Until

Popular demand says we should go for a week rather than a fortnight, which is absolutely fine by me! We are going to spend some time in Paris and jet off to Marib in Syria, but not to Spain. Therefore play until you are done with Marib, but do not go to Spain!

You have until Wednesday 5 February to complete that.

Again, what we’re going to play breaks down into two fairly obvious sections, so I’m going to suggest that you might want to come back and share any thoughts on Paris once you’ve played that and then Syria once that bit’s done. Entirely up to you obviously.

Fear Of Missing Out?

Want to catch up on the DC bits you’re missing out on if you’ve chosen the original?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBLyMlU8ooU

The video above is the same one I linked to before, with all of Nico’s extra scenes from the DC which aren’t in the original. There is a DC only section before the original gets going again which you can watch from about 59:00 – the end. This is the last of the playable Nico sections of the game.

OK, let’s get back to it. And how good is this section? MOST GOOD!

     

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Optional bits to discuss this time
Paris

1. Let’s talk music! I absolutely love the soundtrack to Broken Sword by Barrington Pheloung. Do you have a favourite soundtrack moment from the game so far, or at all? Also if you’re into British Detective series you will have heard his work in Inspector Morse and Lewis amongst others. Sadly he passed away in August last year. Personally I am absolutely captivated by his use of moving but minimalist strings against sustained woodwind and lower string notes and the diatonic but ‘blurry’ harmonies. If you particularly enjoy the intro music to this, then do check out music from the TV detective program ‘Lewis’, which is stylistically very similar, but a bit more poignant.

Absolutely beautiful.

2. We’re going to get underground for the first time in this section of the game (or the second if you’re playing the DC) in a very Broken Sword kind of way. Sure, we came through the sewers early on, but when we get to the catacombs in this section – or when we went sub judice as Nico for the DC, it seems to me that we are experiencing our first of a type of situation/puzzles that feels really ‘Broken Sword’ to me (as in the whole series). What do you reckon? What sort of puzzles really feel ‘Broken Sword-y’ to you?

3. DC only – in this section we get more revelations about Nico’s father and his relationship with the Carchons, following on from what we have in part 1. How well does this work or fit the story do you think?

4. What’s your favourite puzzle/character/line of dialogue from this section?

Marib

5. It’s time for the Americans and Syrians to experience the Broken Sword caricature treatment. But in Dwayne Henderson we meet what is, in some ways, one of the most intriguing characters of the series. At least in my opinion. What do you think? If not then who else might claim that title?

6. Syria is not a country of the world which is often associated with comedy. Il Akl Kalb?

7. I love the way the tone of the game can change from comedy to serious so well. I think that the transition from the marketplace in Marib to the ending at Bull’s head hill is a great example of this. What do you think?

8. What’s your favourite puzzle/character/line of dialogue from this section?

     

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I’ll have this section done tonight and I’ll start posting now. Ok, now I am finished. Fun part of the game with some of the games very best characters so far.

3. DC only – in this section we get more revelations about Nico’s father and his relationship with the Carchons, following on from what we have in part 1. How well does this work or fit the story do you think?

The Nico scenes are always my favorite parts, they add some variety to the game that it needs. Most modern adventure games like Broken Sword 5 allow you to play more than one character. The puzzles in her parts, can kinda suck however, several match the letter puzzles.

The puzzles in George’s sections are run of the mill inventory puzzles for the most part. My version of the game has a hint function but you really don’t need it for this part of the game.

My favorite puzzle is Getting 50 bucks for the modern statue turned old. Lots of fun there.

Anyway, the rest of Paris was at best OK, but Syria is amazing, so very funny, almost a comedy in parts.

Best lines to Quote: “that looks old, George.” And “he’s using the toilet brush on the kebabs.“ Yuk, disgusting.

Best character is Pearl, I also liked her in Broken Sword 5.

“ I love the way the tone of the game can change from comedy to serious so well. I think that the transition from the marketplace in Marib to the ending at Bull’s head hill is a great example of this. What do you think?”

This was amazing, the humor stopped and it became almost a horror game. Very graphic depictions of death. George’s future was in grave doubt a few times. However, things got better for our hero.

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“ I love the way the tone of the game can change from comedy to serious so well. I think that the transition from the marketplace in Marib to the ending at Bull’s head hill is a great example of this. What do you think?”

I absolutely agree. Especially from the Syria point onwards, there is this great Indiana Jones vibe that is unmistakably close. And I do think Charles Cecil drew a lot of inspiration from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis when designing the Syria section.
- The blend of humor and action, but also to Intense’s point the shift in tone from serious to comedy
- The location of Marib has a lot of tonally overlap with the Algiers area in FoA. Even the puzzle style is a bit similar in the way you engage with characters and objects to solve puzzles in FoA
- The action sequence on the Bull’s head has Indiana Jones all over it…though instead of a whip you are equipped with another weapon
- Klausner dies in a very similar way as Charles Sternhart in FoA and he is dressed just like Indiana Jones
- Hidden caves and caverns is very Indy-ish, but that theme continues throughout the game in each location…it’s one of the aspects that makes Broken Sword so great

Then a bit more on Intense Degree optional points to discuss:

1) The music is fantastic indeed and this can’t be overstated. I don’t think there even was an adventure game by 1996 that came through with such a vast movie-like score…...most games came with he more standard synth soundtracks, but with Broken Sword it felt more like a full orchestra making the music. There is this great main theme that is used in the intro and through-out the game and there are these little touches where the music warns you when something dramatic or unexpected is just about to happen.

2) Well, anything connected to open a door to a hidden chamber, cave or cavern making use of clues and objects. The whole manuscript setup of clues functions as a larger red thread through-out the puzzles that really defines Broken Sword for me. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of that in the sequels. What I’m unsure of is the following: The game sure gives the impression that some locations and puzzles can be done in a random order, but there is still a very linear narrative and though I haven’t really tried it out, I don’t think there are many different ways in which order you can solve puzzles. In some cases the game blocks your progress because an object of another location is needed. (The lens comes to mind) And sometimes a dialog item comes at a later moment in the game even though George had the knowledge to ask earlier. Baphomet’s statue comes to mind. So the game it quite linear, but still gives the impression you can solve puzzles in random order. But does anyone know if it really is feasible to solve puzzles in different order?

4. I like the hospital puzzle in which you have to impersonate as a doctor and bring an assistant along in order to be able to go into Marguet’s room

5. I’m not a big fan of the american couple…..they are good for comedy element and they sure are a cliche of the overweight american tourist and they appear in multiple games, but other than that there is little to them. I much prefer the assassin.

6. uh…..what was it again? Your kebab is made out of dog meat?

7. Already covered at the beginning.

8. I’d say the assassin, and the whole sequence on the Bull’s head. It had my heart skip a beat the first time I played it Laughing

     
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subbi - 30 January 2020 11:48 AM

I absolutely agree. Especially from the Syria point onwards, there is this great Indiana Jones vibe that is unmistakably close. And I do think Charles Cecil drew a lot of inspiration from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis when designing the Syria section.

I always thought of Broken Sword as a game inspired by Indiana Jones. The popular history context, the world map, the blend of mystery, adventure and comedy. Ok, the stereotypes (I don’t like this word, but yeah, this is probably the case with Syria). In fact I find BS2 to be even closer to the George Lucas’ franchise. Of course, George (hey! a reference?) is not as cool as Indi, yet he easily abandons whatever he was up to in Paris just to get to the bottom of the mystery.

So the game it quite linear, but still gives the impression you can solve puzzles in random order. But does anyone know if it really is feasible to solve puzzles in different order?

You can travel to two different countries at one point (missed at my first playthrough and was pleasantly surprised later on). And as far as I remember, in this section you can “solve” different locations in Paris in any order (at least right now I have several new locations available, and I don’t remember any connection between them). I also like how you can talk to Nico either by visiting her flat or using a phone which leads to different conversations and different results - sometimes you miss important clues which could be revealed during later visits.

     

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