As far as retro adventure gaming from the 80s and 90s goes, you played adventure games made by either Sierra or LucasArts. Of course, after seeing the popularity of these games, other companies decided to throw their hats into the ring and try to make their own adventure games to take the crown at being the best of that genre. Some companies lucked out with a few well known games in the adventure game genre, but most companies gave up after their first try at it. However, one company rose to the challenge and was able to compete with LucasArts and Sierra. They are Revolution Software. Revolution Software was famous for adventure games like Beneath A Steel Sky and the popular Broken Sword franchise. For the most part, it has worked out for them, and in a sense, is the only point-and-click adventure game developer to still be around and doing what made them popular. How about we dive into this company’s history of games?
Revolution Software was founded in York, United Kingdom in March 1990 by four people, Charles Cecil, Tony Warriner, David Sykes, and Noirin Carmody. Their first game was released in 1992 called Lure of the Temptress. It was well received when it was released, and was considered worthy enough to go toe-to-toe with the adventure games from Sierra and LucasArts. Personally, I don’t fully agree with that statement. The fantasy setting of the game is fine, but I can’t honestly say it is a good adventure game when you compare it to the adventure games released time like Space Quest IV or Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. I think the story’s pacing is slow, a little boring, and sometimes items blend too well into the background. The setting felt drab compared to King's Quest's more colorful and vibrant setting. There was a more fairytale vibe from King's Quest and Lure of the Temptress could have had more fantasy elements thrown in it. It is free on GOG.com, so maybe check it out for yourself and see what conclusion you come up with. Their next game would be released in 1994 called Beneath a Steel Sky, a cyberpunk themed adventure game. This game was also well received by critics. Now this is the game I think made Revolution Software able to compete with LucasArts and Sierra. This is a great sci-fi adventure game that has sharp writing, solid puzzle elements, and the world felt much more developed than the fantasy setting of Lure of the Temptress. Now, we can get to the games that made Revolution Software famous.
On September 30th 1996, they released Broken Sword: Shadows of the Templar for the PC. The game’s story followed American tourist George Stobbart who witnesses a terrorist attack at a café in France. He meets a journalist named Nicole Collard, and decides to assist her in the investigation, which ends up with the two of them getting involved with something much bigger. The game was known for its beautiful 2D-animated cutscenes. The art was done by Eoghan Cahill and Neil Breen, who both worked for Don Bluth Studios, and the animation was done by Mike Burgess. I haven’t had any personal experience with this game or the franchise, but after seeing walkthroughs of the game, I would consider this series as, if Don Bluth made his own animated film versions of the Indiana Jones movies. However you look at it, the game was highly successful and brought the company a lot of acclaim. So, after they made such a critically acclaimed game, they decided to make a sequel to it. On October 31st, 1997, they released Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror. The game continued the story of the first game’s two protagonists, George Stobbart and Nicole Collard, six months after the events of the first game. Sadly, the original release of this game was met with mixed-to-positive reviews and didn’t live up to the original game. Nonetheless, both games sold a million copies each. On April 30th, 2000 they released a game called Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado to be released alongside the Dreamworks animated film, The Road to El Dorado. The game got mixed-to-negative reviews. Their next game would be an original IP, and was released for the PlayStation 1 and PC called In Cold Blood. The game was met with mixed-to-positive reviews. After those two games were released, they were going to release another game called Good Cop Bad Cop, but it was unfortunately cancelled. Since the last two games didn’t get the critical acclaim they were looking for, they cancelled Good Cop Bad Cop so they could make the next entry in their Broken Sword franchise.
In November 2003, they released Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon for PC and consoles. It was the first 3D game in the franchise. The game did well, and garnered positive reviews. In 2006, they released Broken Sword: The Angel of Death. Unlike the past games, this entry in the franchise got mixed-to-average reviews. I am not surprised, since adventure games were not doing well during this certain moment in time.
So, where is this company now? After having a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new Broken Sword game, they released the first episode of the new game titled Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse on December 4th, 2013, with the next episode coming out in January. Their other games shouldn’t be too hard to find. There have been re-releases, HD Remakes, ports, and etc. You can find the Broken Sword games on GOG.com.
Well, what do I like about this company? They were the company that made the “Adventure genre” adventure games. What do I mean by this? Well, LucasArts was the king of the “Comedy genre” adventure games with games like Full Throttle and The Curse of Monkey Island, while Sierra was the king of the “Fantasy and Sci-fi genre” adventure game with their King’s Quest and Space Quest franchise. They basically made adventure games that reminds me of something like Indiana Jones or National Treasure. They have a charm to them and I will get them in the future.
What would I like to see them do in the future? Well, I hope the entire Broken Sword: The Serpent’s Curse episodic experience does well so they can get funding to make another game. I want to see them tackle other genres, maybe make something comedic and goofy for their next game, or something surreal and weird. It’s basically the same thing I would like to see Quantum Dreams do with their future games. I know the writing in the Broken Sword games has been humorous, but I want it to be taken to the next level.
I decided to do an article about Revolution Software because I felt like this company needed to be talked about more. Sure, talking about Sierra and LucasArts is great, but it’s always good to talk about a developer a lot of people might not know about. This is a company I think everyone should check out if you are into adventure games. I hope their new game does well, since they are doing the episodic format we see in the games made by Telltale Games. I hope to hear more about this company in the future, and you can expect me to review their games.