Now, if you have read my review of Monkey Island 2 then you may be aware that I’m a bit of a fan of what we used to call graphic adventures, and that is true, but with one minor alteration, and that is that I am a fan of good graphic adventures.
Luckily, it seems that another high quality point and click adventure game has dropped into my lap. Actually, scratch that, as ‘high quality’ doesn’t do Broken Sword – The Smoking Mirror any justice at all. This is an exceptional game.
The sequel to the original Broken Sword, The Smoking Mirror once again stars George Stobbart and Nico Collard on another globe-trotting quest. This time they are on the hunt for mystical stones that are the key to preventing the return of an ancient power, but unfortunately there is a shadowy organization whose motives are clouded in mystery also hunting the stones.
The quest and storyline is intriguing and interesting, and you will be eager to find out what happens next after each new twist. The writers also manage to keep the comedy going at all times without ever sacrificing the feeling of adventure and purpose; a pitfall many games have fallen prey of.
There are many classic comic moments, from witty one liners in the script to great character animations, and yet the feeling that George and Nico are in danger is always there. It’s a nice balance, and this is helped by the great voice acting and some good puzzles.
The puzzles here are pretty cleverly constructed, and all the ways you use the items make sense in each instance. There is never really a Simon the Sorcerer feeling of clicking everywhere and trying everything in dozens of locations in the hope that something will stick. The fact that you only ever have relatively few items in your possession helps, as does the way the game tends to keep you in one area at a time.
There are some great characters. My favorite has to be the priest you meet who has been marooned in the rainforest for years. He is prim and proper but hides a past that is pure comedy. The various bad guys you meet also all come to a satisfying end, especially the dodgy architect trying to rip off a couple of mean old women on a Caribbean island.
The game uses the touch screen well, as you can hold your finger on the screen and any objects or items that can be interacted with are highlighted. It is a fantastic way of making sure you aren’t just clicking everywhere and it makes using items and talking to people a breeze.
The graphics are a highlight, with superbly animated cartoon characters and beautifully drawn environments that really draw you into what is an incredibly engaging story. The voice acting is, as I have already said, excellent and the music is focused and intelligently used.
The hint system is really well done, as the first thing you see when entering the hints screen is a question. Touching the question brings up a hint, and then another more obvious clue and then so on. The great thing about this is that first question. It helps you to focus your activities without really helping you too much and giving anything away, so it may say ‘I know I need to get in that room, but how?’. This means you can concentrate in the correct area without having your hand held too much. The other good thing about the question system is that it helps players who haven’t played for a few days to get back into the game quickly.
Ok, so the story and humor may not reach the heights of Monkey Island, but it does come close and this has to be considered as one of Revolution’s best, better than the original Broken Sword, although not quite as lengthy, and I would rate it a smidgen under their classic Beneath a Steel Sky.
What that means is that this is an absolutely brilliant adventure game, one of the best you can currently buy on the App Store and certainly a good reason to start collecting Revolution games on iPad, as there is an impressive line up available already.
For adventure game fans, this should be considered essential, a roller coaster ride around a world steeped in mystery with great characters and gorgeous graphics. Superb.
This review originally appeared on The Smartphone App Review (Aug 15, 2011).