BEHIND THE SCENES

Why Broken Sword Feels So Realistic

Broken Sword 5

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Every game in the Broken Sword series is based on meticulously researched historical events. Creator Revolution Software then layers these with a fictional—but plausible—conspiracy for players to unravel. Think best-selling historical thriller meets point-and-click adventure.

For Revolution Software cofounder Charles Cecil, that means many research trips to exotic locales. “Realistically, this is only possible by convincing the family that their holidays should be spent in far-flung places,” he says.

Paris’ Passage du Prado was referenced in the game because it “was once magnificent but is now run-down,” according to Cecil.

For the latest game, Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse, Cecil and family jetted to Urfa, in Turkey, near the Syrian border. Cecil recalls making an excursion to Göbekli Tepe, a place of worship built around 12,000 years ago.

“Actually visiting these places always generates new ideas that simply would not emerge if investigated through internet searches,” Cecil says. “It provides the opportunity to gather accurate visual reference, both architecturally and in terms of street furniture, the clothes that people wear, the shape and construction of doors, windows, and so on.”

The first Broken Sword introduced series heroes George and Nico outside a beautifully realized Parisian café.

If the history, locations, and story don’t excite Cecil, they don’t make it into the game, he says.

A trip to Spain’s spectacular Montserrat Abbey, however, proved particularly inspiring.

“Setting a part of the game in Montserrat Abbey offered us both a wonderful visual tapestry but also the history of supporting artists and Republicans against the fascist Nationalists,” Cecil says.

Inspired by a visit to Montserrat’s Santa Cova, Cecil had to include it in Broken Sword 5.

There are settings in the game that are closer to home, of course: The London studio of temperamental artist Wilfred Hobbs, a character in Broken Sword 5, is near where Cecil grew up, in Wandsworth.

Where we make statements about history and historical events, I aim to ensure that they are as authentic and accurate as possible.

—Charles Cecil, Revolution Software cofounder

“I wanted an iconic, slightly run-down area, so I chose to place it in the shadow of Battersea Power Station,” he explains. “Battersea was featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals, so we added a floating pig as tribute, which was appreciated by players of a certain age.”

Battersea Power Station was chosen for its iconic looming scale but also the surrounding shabbiness.

Cecil takes personal pride in the accuracy of the real-world places depicted in his games—right down to their geography. “In the second part of Broken Sword 5, George and Nico need to triangulate a number of places to find a secret location,” he says. “If anyone was to do this on a real map, they would find that the triangulation is absolutely accurate.”

The setting is just as important as the characters and conspiracies in the Broken Sword games. It’s this mix of exotic globe-trotting and mystery-solving that has pulled players into its world again and again. If you’re a new adventure seeker, don’t hesitate to download The Serpent’s Curse, even if you haven’t played the others.

    Broken Sword 5

    Games

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