Broken Sword for iPhone: Graphic adventures reborn?

If you like comic books, murder mysteries, and play-in-the-bathtub pacing, you'll love the iPhone version of this venerable adventure game.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Vive la graphic adventure! Broken Sword makes a dazzling iPhone debut. Revolution Software

I'm old enough to remember the heyday of graphic adventures. Space Quest, The Secret of Monkey Island, Full Throttle--these were the inventive, engaging point-and-click pastimes of my youth.

Alas, the genre died out years ago, but every now and then we see a flicker of resurgence--like when Revolution's Broken Sword debuted way back in 1996. Since then, the game has been ported to just about every platform, mostly notably the Nintendo DS last year.

Now, Broken Sword: Director's Cut is available for iPhone and iPod Touch. It's a lush graphic adventure representing the best of the genre, with a compelling plot, challenging puzzles, and welcome doses of humor. Check out the Hollywood-worthy trailer:

If you've never played a game like this (and if you're under the age of 30, you probably haven't), it's like an interactive animated movie.

As the murder-mystery plot unfolds, you explore various globe-spanning locales, looking for clues, talking with other characters, and solving puzzles. The pace is slow, the gameplay linear--players who have itchy trigger fingers or five-minute attention spans should definitely look elsewhere.

Those who enjoy this kind of thing, however, will be in hog heaven. Broken Sword looks absolutely dazzling on the iPhone, and its touch-driven interface couldn't be simpler. Tap the screen to move your character, drag your finger to inspect, use, or take an item; it's all very intuitive.

Early graphic adventures were notoriously quiet affairs, but Broken Sword features professional voice acting that adds greatly to the experience. (Interestingly, the DS version lacked the voices--to its detriment, I think.)

If this game is any indication, the iPhone is the perfect platform for the rebirth of graphic adventures. (In fact, the iPad would be even better, thanks to its larger screen.) Although the $6.99 price tag may seem steep, keep in mind that you're getting at least 10 hours' worth of gameplay. Maybe it's just me, but I'm lucky if I get an hour from the average 99-cent puzzler.

While you're at it, be sure to check out Myst and Monkey Island, both of which are also available for the iPhone.