Broken Sword — The Smoking Mirror Remastered Review: Solid Sequel
Broken Sword – The Smoking Mirror: Remastered is part of the great revival of classic CD-ROM titles in the new iOS format. Reborn and remastered by Revolution Studios, The Smoking Mirror (TSM), sequel to Broken Sword Director’s Cut (BSDC), is a solid sequel and an enjoyable adventure for anyone who enjoyed the original game.
TSM picks up a few years after BSDC let off, with intrepid hero George Stobbart returning to Paris to visit the love of his life, French Journalist Nico Colliard. This time, the pair end up on a quest to foil a Central American plot to tap in to an ancient source of evil. While the plot doesn’t have quite the same bite to it as the one in BSDC (especially the personal Nico subplot), it’s a fun setup that allows for a lot of globetrotting.
In terms of gameplay, this game is built more or less exactly like its predecessor. It’s a classic CD-ROM era touch interface, modified to work as a touch interface. Like BSDC, you’ll spend most of your time interacting with characters and objects, trying to figure out which items, combination of items, or sequence of events you need to trigger progress in the story. Also like its predecessor, the whole game is built on lateral thinking — there’s almost never a straightforward solution to anything, and clues can sometimes be buried in the seemingly pointless chit-chat of the game’s colorful characters. Generally, I found the construction of the puzzles in TSM to be a bit better than those in BSDC; they’re often more complex in their completion, leading to more variety of gameplay, but they also make a little more sense in the steps to take. There’s also the ability to actually fail at a task, often leading to your death and a quick do-over — a touch of realism that was quite welcome.
I also really enjoyed a couple of the technical decisions they made with TSM. For one, it’s a universal app, which is quickly becoming a favorite feature of mine (and should be for anyone who owns both an iPad and an iPhone or iPod Touch). I also really liked the game-synching ability built into the game, achieved via a save packet exchanged on Dropbox. This is a GREAT companion feature for a universal app, and I don’t see why more games don’t use it — having a universal app but no game sync is sort of like not having a universal app at all.
There’s a slight downside to universal compatibility, in that the graphics quality here seemed a bit more pixellated than the HD version of BSDC. But on a game like this, that’s not going to impair game play much, and the animated cut scenes still look good.
All in all, Broken Sword — The Smoking Mirror Remastered is a fine adventure addition to the iOS, and fans of the original BSDC should certainly check out this solid sequel. I’m only sad that it might be the last Broken Sword game we’ll see, since the further PC-CDROM sequels in the series jumped to full 3D graphics and a less than perfect interface, neither of which might translate as well onto the modern sensibilities of the iOS.