Broken Sword: Circle of Blood


Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Revolution Software

Publisher:   Virgin Interactive

Released:    1996

PC Requirements:   486/66 (Pentium recommended), 2xCD-ROM (4 speed recommended), Vesa 2.0 compatible SVGA card, 100% SoundBlaster compatible sound card, mouse.





by Becky

Circle of Blood

It’s a beautiful day in Paris and a young American, George Stobbart, is relaxing at the table of a sidewalk café. From out of nowhere a clown appears. Party, anyone? Within seconds a man is dead and George is flailing around in the patio umbrella while debris scatters around him.

Through no fault of his own, our innocent hero is now caught up in a Bloody mystery that will Circle the globe (well, almost).

Hold on a minute. There’s very little actual on-screen gore. Danger -- yes. Suspense -- plenty. Blood -- no. Let’s drop the “Circle of Blood” title and go with the much more accurate/sensible title of:


Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars



George’s pursuit of the clown leads him to a map that is somehow linked to the medieval order of the Knights Templar. His path will also cross that of a beautiful French photojournalist, Nico Collard. Nico has been investigating a deadly yet quirky assassin soon to strike again in the guise of a pixie.

Pixilated? A bit. Pixelated? Well, a little, though the graphics are surprisingly sharp for a game that was released in 1996. The game’s beautiful 2D cartoon-like graphics catch the eye with plenty of color and lots of detail. The richness of the designer’s art is put to use in a variety of unusual locations. One of the best parts is exploring Paris underground. Somehow even the sewers look quaint and appealing. Hmm.... I wonder if a condo in a Paris sewer might actually be affordable.

Shadow of the Templars has an unusual whimsical quality. This is partly due to the characters you meet – most of whom are eccentric, with hilarious comments and responses to George’s various adventures. Then there are the inventory items, which are found in odd places and can be used in peculiar ways. This light touch perfectly balances the dramatic tension as the story builds toward the final encounter at game’s end. Although the game’s ending is well-crafted and animated, events toward the end can be confusing. There are enough twists in this tale of intrigue and power lust that it’s a little hard to figure out who is working against whom.

Puzzle challenges are clever and are mostly inventory-based, with a few timed challenges thrown in during confrontations with the game’s bad guys. Occasionally, it is possible to die. The most evil character in the game (far worse than the homicidal clown) is a certain Goat. I had heard rumors about this challenge and was determined not to let the Goat get my… defeat me. The Goat’s trainer is the same talented person who made Lassie much smarter than most people. This Goat is so good at his job that the security detail at Fort Knox could retire en masse, simply by turning over guard duties to the Goat. I’m sure there are gamers out there who – without cheating – can claim victory over the Goat. I am not one of them.

Although I wouldn’t consider this a markedly difficult game, I was surprised at the complexity of some of the puzzles. You will have to be persistent and think creatively if you are going to get through this one without a walkthrough. There are no mazes, no sound puzzles, and no sliding tile puzzles.

The game is played from a third person perspective and is entirely mouse-controlled. Movement is very smooth. The inventory is easy to use. The music is pleasant to listen to without being intrusive. The voice acting is excellent. I didn’t encounter a single bug. I hesitated to install Shadow of the Templars on my Win XP computer because the game uses an ancient version of Direct X. It ran beautifully in Win 98 though.

Quibble One: at times the game feels slow because you can’t speed up George’s movements. If you click on an item or a character, or if you wish to exit a scene, you have to wait as George ambles over to the correct spot. There is also a fair amount of disk swapping that you must go through before you’re done.

Quibble Two: there is a lot of talking in this game. The dialogue is extremely funny at times, but at other times it can wear a bit thin. You are able to click through the dialogue and you can choose NOT to ask every character about every inventory item, but there is then a risk that you will miss something vital.

Quick List for Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars

Suggestion for Conversation with the Goat – Idea #1: “Hi there Billy. How about eating this palm buzzer for lunch? Ahh, tickles, doesn’t it? (Goat rolls on the ground in agony as it is electrocuted.)

Suggestion for Conversation with the Goat – Idea #2: “Hey Billy, try sitting on this tripod, won’t you? Oops. Are you injured? Here, let me take your blood pressure. (Goat, now securely hog-tied with the blood pressure cuff, twitches in helpless anger.)

Suggestion for Conversation with the Goat – Idea #3: “Mr. Goat, meet Mr. Shiny. Billy needs a little spiffing up? Let me just plug in this “goat valet” machine and…..BWAHAHAHA take THAT you filthy goat. And THAT. And THAT!

Final Grade: Four BAAGS out of Five

design copyright © 2004 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index