Home > Games, My writing > How Broken Sword showed me games can tell a story (Article)

How Broken Sword showed me games can tell a story (Article)

Paris in the fall, the last months of the year, at the end of the millennium. The city holds many memories for me, of music, of cafes, of love, and of death.

This opening quote should be instantly recognizable to anyone who played the original Broken Sword: Shadow of The Templars (called Circle of Blood for it’s initial US release). This adventure game made a fairly significant first impression on me.

I first discovered Broken Sword when I saw the trailer above on the “Demo One” disk that came with my original PlayStation. I was immensely fascinated by the video and I  watched it countless times over the following months. It wasn’t the slightly cheesy, yet effective voiceover or the rather cool music playing throughout that made me become obsessed with the trailer. It was the fact I had never seen anything quite like it at the time on any of the previous consoles that I owned.

Even though I was now able to play games like Tekken and Ridge Racer, they didn’t grab me like this trailer had. The cartoon visuals were wonderful, vibrant, and colourful but still retained a sense of realism. They led you to believe that the story was intricate and epic — a far cry from saving a princess from an evil dinosaur. I knew I had to play this game.

Broken Sword opening

I was always on the look-out for this game. I hoped I could convince my parents to buy it for me, but it was nowhere to be seen. Life teased me once again when a friend got hold of a demo disk that had a playable demo of the first half hour of the game. We played through it together, worked out the puzzles, and chuckled away at the dialogue as we progressed.

Broken Sword was just as I’d hoped: a game which engaged the brain in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I was now reassured that the game lived up to the promise of the trailer and then some. The dialogue was witty, the characters were interesting, and the mystery hooked me.

I finally discovered a copy on a random wander around various games shops. It was still quite expensive, but after some persuasion it was mine. Without a guide or the Internet to help me, it took a long time to finally complete the game — well over a year of playing it on and off.

Despite this, Broken Sword instantly became one of my favorite games. I adored the main characters, George Stobbart and Nico Collard, and I was enthralled by the story of conspiracies based on actual historic events.

Tourists

Up until this point I had never realized my favorite hobby could tell a story that rivaled a movie or television show. As I unravelled this story, I was spellbound. This game holds a special place for me because it showed me what the medium was truly capable of. Games don’t have to be about walking from left to right and killing anything in your way. They can be about telling a story which the player has to help move forward.

Story has become one of the main reasons I will play a game these days. Games like Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption will pull me in more than any other. This is also why I own more than a handful of video game novels. I like to feel as involved in the fiction and world as possible.

So, I thank Broken Sword for opening my eyes to a whole new world of video games.


When did you first realize games could tell a great story? Was it a specific game or moment, or do you think we’re still not even there yet?

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