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:
Sword: Shadow of the Templars
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
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
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