Broken Sword is one of the few adventure series to still enjoy success across the world. In fact, it has been so successful that creator Charles Cecil has now had to go back on his original promise that it would be a trilogy, and the fourth game in the series is set for release in September. The game is published by THQ and developed by Revolution and Sumo Digital, and we managed to get a first play of it at Leipzig this year to see how protagonist George Stobart has been getting on.
The bad news is that George doesn't look to be doing too well at the start of The Angel of Death. Back in New York but unable to find legal work anymore, he's at a bit of a low point until a mysterious woman called Anna Maria enters his life. At this point, fans of the series may be wondering what happened to previous love interest Nico, but other than the news that she will appear as a playable character in the game, we have no details on that front.
Because it's an adventure game famed for its scripting, we pressed Cecil on the area of scriptwriting as he demonstrated the game. While he was incredibly cautious about revealing any potential spoilers, he was eager to talk about the scriptwriting process for the new game, which he believes is the strongest yet. The mechanics for each Broken Sword game has been forgotten knowledge, which resurfaces in the modern day. Thanks to George's inquisitive nature, this knowledge leads to a conspiracy and drives George through the adventure as he uncovers more clues. The fact that Cecil has visited both Egypt and New York to research the game might give an indication of where it's heading.
With the last game tying the story in to a nice, neat trilogy, many fans have been asking what direction the fourth game will be taking. Cecil talked about taking the game back to its roots, especially since the first game is his favourite, and the desire to create the feel of a 2D adventure game in 3D. In Broken Sword 3, the move from 2D to 3D was an incredibly controversial choice, and Cecil was open about the mistakes he had made. His biggest regrets are the number of crate puzzles in the game and the omission of a point-and-click interface. The second Broken Sword game in 3D, The Angel of Death has fewer crate puzzles and focusses more on adventuring, while complementing the keyboard interface with the restored mouse control for traditionalists.
Whereas Broken Sword 3 was released on the PC, Xbox and PlayStation 2, the fourth game in the series will be PC only. Despite overwhelmingly positive reviews, a massive proportion of the game's sales were on the PC, so console versions are off the menu this time around. However, the project features a controversial new development technique whereby Cecil remains creative control while development is outsourced to Sumo Digital. Since Cecil is still employing Neil Richards as scriptwriter and the people behind Outrun 2 to program the game, we're excited that this method will yield positive results.
During our demonstration, Cecil let slip that Anna Maria might not be all she's cracked up to be but that this will be revealed to the player. He went on to explain that this technique, which he has applied from cinema, is used to increase the attachment to George in the game. Just like in a horror movie where the audience knows when the murderer is going to jump out at someone, players should care more for George because of the danger presented by this girl. If they have been through previous adventures, it's likely that they'll also want to see him fall in love and live a normal life for a change.
When the game is launched in September, a soundtrack will be released to accompany it and dynamic game hints can be found in the menu system, in case you get stuck. We're hugely excited about continuing George's adventures, and we'll see if Cecil's ambitious storytelling and development methods have yielded another classic adventure in a couple of weeks' time.