So what do you think this tool is used for?
Graphics: 10 (the next step will be FMV)
Sounds: 8 (cheesy yet entertaining voice acting / great musical scores)
Value: 9 (lengthy however entertaining right until the end / absolutely no replay value though)
Tilt: 9 (a charming adventure game to boot)
Being in the wrong place at the wrong time could spell disaster. Yet it could also be when one door closes another door open. Well in the case of the main protagonist George Stobbart it's a bit of both. Whilst sitting in a café enjoying the autumn breeze he noticed a beautiful lady serving him coffee then gives him the eye. She leaves to serve other customers then *bam* a clown covers his view, pops into the café, shortly after leaves with a briefcase then before you can say 'I got a red nose' the café explodes! So George has two options here: report it the police or see if the woman is hurt. Take a guess what he does…and because of this brings George into international conspiracies that last the ages.
The Circle of Blood (aka The Broken Sword) is regarded as a point-and-click adventure game. That said the interface is intuitive enough to jump in without reading the manual (yet the manual is worth the read as it explains George's history…sort of…just read the damn thing). To take any sort of action is by left or right click on items / reading texts and viola action performed. The cursor will alter according to the given situation assisting you solving the perceived bombing case. In addition George will meet colourful characters from all walks of life and gets to travel abroad to solve the even darker mystery.
Powered by the 'Virtual Theatre' The Circle of Blood had made some changes from its previous titles. Yet to those who don't know this 'Virtual Theatre' it debuted with 'The Lure of the Temptress' back in 1992 and then made some improvements with the cult classic 'Beneath the Steel Sky' in 1994. The Circle of Blood is the third game using this engine.
Considering the engine was famed for animated sprites that appeared to be 'non-scripted' (i.e. characters walking around as apposed to be static) there were some problems in the early goings like characters blocking the hero's path or simply too hard to engage in a conversation due to their haphazardly movements. Yet in Broken Sword to avoid this 'calamity' is to have fewer characters on the same screen at the same time. A strange concept of improvement however the heck with it, it worked!
Considering the voice acting is certainly no Oscar winning performance the entire cast are a blast to talk to. This certainly brought charm to the game as most will have witty responses to careless questions. Some example are when George picks up some plaster and shows it to certain individuals stating 'Hey I got some plaster from Paris…' or ' I got a red nose' (meaning the clown's red nose he found) prepare for some outlandish responses. And if you ask the same question again you will get a deep sigh or a brush off remark. So don't be concerned about showing off the sewer key…heck it just might be the answer you were looking for!
Whilst the gaming industry has gone FMV crazy, Circle of Blood utilises beautifully hand drawn graphics. And considering it's an adventure game, thank goodness for the attention-to-detail as nothing's worse than going pixel hunting. Granted there will be just a few times that you really need to stare at the screen thinking 'Can I pick this up?' however and thankfully though the cursor will change according to the situation. Likewise are the sounds as musically the game really gives that cinematic feel especially when entering the next episode. Yet take note of the more subtle sounds as they are actually signs that you are heading in the right track.
I guess that if you managed to ask the right questions at the right time using the right items in the right locations the game probably will last ten hours or so. Yet realistically I don't think that's going to happen. And besides, asking dumb questions or making injudicious remarks is part of the fun completing this adventure. That said this game took me close to forty hours to complete as I almost exhausted the entire conversational tree. Beware though as there are a couple of death scenes and considering there's no 'quick save' option, try to be a little wise when fooling around. I made this mistake once and needed to start the game again. Thankfully so, I wasn't too far into the game when this happened.
Whilst there are no real shortages of adventure games during the 90s, the Circle of Blood certainly made its mark as one of the greats. Why is that is because of the memorable characters, doesn't punish you (greatly) for being foolish and the steady pace really made this game one hell of ride. Granted that there are some times that you wonder what to do next yet because of the outlandish remarks from the folks you meet, you'll almost try anything to see the people's reactions. And if all this fails then you're making progress – as strange it may seem. So you can say it's a win / win situation here!
So what do you think this tool is used for?