|Charles Cecil talks to the protagonists of the Broken Sword series in a Kickstarter pitch video|
- Review by: Mark Goninon
- Developer: Revolution Software
- Publisher: Revolution Software
- Release Date: 11 March 2017
- Total Duration: 138 minutes (over 6 episodes)
25 years ago and it's the year 1992: The Atari 2600 is finally retired, the Bosnian War starts, the European Union is formed, Windows 3.1 is released, Bill Clinton is elected President of the United States, and a small game development studio located in Kingston-upon-Hull, England releases an adventure game called Lure of the Temptress. This company would go on to become Revolution Software, probably the most renowned British developer of graphical point 'n' click adventure games (well, besides Adventure Soft who made the Simon the Sorceror games). If you've ever played a Broken Sword game, Beneath a Steel Sky or, of course, Lure of the Temptress, you know who these guys and gals are and what they're capable of.
Fast forward to this year, 2017, and it's now the 25th Anniversary of Revolution Software (which amazingly still exists, not an easy feat in the world of game development). To commemorate the special occasion, Revolution Software has decided to release a documentary that details its entire history from 1992 until now. Being a fan of the Broken Sword games (although to be honest, I've only completed the second one), Beneath a Steel Sky (how could I not love a sci-fi point 'n' click adventure set in a post-apocalyptic Australia?) and point 'n' click adventures in general, it was too good a documentary to pass up on – especially after it was discounted thanks to the last Steam sale.
What I like:
They've done it all
You know how in RPGs you'll always come across an old, battle-scarred warrior with many a war story to tell? Well, Revolution Software is one of the old, battle-scarred warriors of the gaming industry since it's been around long enough to experience just about everything such as the trials and tribulations of surviving such a volatile industry, especially one where you're competing with adventure gaming big guns of the day, like Sierra and Lucasarts. The documentary also goes into which games worked and which ones didn't, Revolution's experiences with transitioning to the console and mobile markets, as well as their experiences with Kickstarter when they raised over $700,000 in 2012 for the development of Broken Sword – the Serpent's Curse.
BritishUnlike previous documentaries I've watched that are American-centric, this documentary gives a British perspective on what their games industry looked like from the early 1990s until now.
Dave GibbonsI remember the comic book style art being really good in Beneath a Steel Sky but I never realised it was a famous comic book artist that actually created the game's artwork, namely Dave Gibbons of “Watchmen" fame (you know, the one that they made into a movie in 2009?). This is only one interesting bit of trivia I learned by watching this documentary but there's plenty more.
Are those subtitles?Subtitles are very handy when you have noisy distractions or when it's difficult to decipher what a particular person in the film is saying. So, I'm very glad that the documentary has subtitles.
What I dislike:
It's not for everybodyWhile I think the documentary does a good job of not going down deep into the weeds, point ‘n' click adventure games are kind of a niche market nowadays and while many will recognise the games developed by Revolution Software, they're only really famous amongst adventure gaming circles.
SpoilersUnlike the World 1-1 documentary (where I've hardly played any retro Atari games and they usually don't contain a narrative) and Double Fine Adventure (where I've already finished the game in question) this documentary caused me some worry since I've only ever finished Broken Sword 2 and only dabbled a bit with Broken Sword 1 and Beneath a Steel Sky. Considering it's a retrospective, I was expecting there'd be spoilers but I was hoping they'd be kept to a minimum. Thankfully it does seem there weren't any major spoilers (unless you considered some of the cutscenes they showed as well as a certain puzzle involving a goat in Broken Sword 1) but they're still there. So, if you ever wanted to play your Revolution backlog spoiler-free, don't watch this documentary until you've finished Broken Sword 5.
Score – 7/10 (Good)For anyone who is interested in British games development history especially with respect to point ‘n' click adventures, this documentary is a must-see; Revolution Software has been through a lot over the past 25 years and Charles Cecil along with his many collaborators has just about seen it all. The only word of caution I would give is that if you're planning to do a spoiler-free playthrough of any Revolution Software games, I suggest you do so before watching the film since it does contain (minor) spoilers.
Is the documentary worth $7.99 USD?: No. A bit pricey for a documentary as it's over $10 AUD for a 2+ hour documentary. Maybe $5 USD would be a fairer price. I got the documentary for an absolute bargain during the Steam sale though so if you can do the same, it's definitely worth the money.
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[ LINK: Official Revolution Software Website ]