High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Rants > Reviews > Video Game Reviews > Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror

Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror

Rating: 6/10 - A so-so follow up to the original
Platform: PC

(My Broken Sword series reviews: The Shadow of the Templars (Circle of Blood), The Smoking Mirror, The Sleeping Dragon)

George Stobbart can't catch a break. After the crazy adventure of Shadow of the Templars, family matters drag him back to the US. He finally makes it back to France to see his reporter girlfriend Nico when she drags him along to do some research for a story she is investigating. She gets kidnapped and he gets tied to a chair in a burning house with a giant spider. George must head across France to rescue Nico, then the two must traipse across the world to save the world from yet another conspiracy with a touch of supernatural. This time Nico doesn't just sit at home providing advice; you'll play about half the game as Nico.

The sequel to Shadow of the Templars is very much a sequel. There isn't much new here, but that's okay. The plot remains a bit cliche, but it works.

I found the puzzles slightly less logical than the previous game, but nothing fatal. The games puzzles will satisfy, but never wow. A few puzzles boggle reason. In one particularly bad moment, George must stop an elevator door from closing by blocking an ankle-high infrared beam. It's not acceptable to put a cereal box in the way. Instead you need to push a crate in the way. It can't be that you need something heavy to physically stop the doors from closing, as moment later you'll replace the crate with masking tape over the infrared sensor. Later in the game you'll discover that ancient culture apparently had nothing better to do than build complex symbol matching puzzles.

Happily reduced from the previous game are the number of moments where you can be killed for slow reflexes.

The game feels rushed. Near the end of the game the heroes go from not believing in the supernatural problem in question to absolutely believing they need to stop it with little justification. Between the penultimate and ultimate chapters, several things go very, very badly entirely off-screen with no explanation. It feels like an entire chapter in which the heroes got close to the end but suffered a surprise twist was missing. The ending has a similar problem; after solving lots of puzzles, the climax is a cutscene in which the supernatural is revealed and dispatched with no input from the player. After the climax the ending feels rushed; like the denouement is missing.

Controls are almost identical to the first game. It's a standard point-and-click adventure game. One minor improvement is that you can access to game options menus without using a keyboard; handy if you're playing with a wireless mouse from the couch.

I only recommend Smoking Mirror to adventure games who enjoyed the original Broken Sword. You can get the first two games for about $14, which is a reasonable price for the pair. Good Old Games will sell you a DRM-free downloadble version for $5.99, which is also reasonable.

(My Broken Sword series reviews: The Shadow of the Templars (Circle of Blood), The Smoking Mirror, The Sleeping Dragon)

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