Circle of Blood/Broken Sword
One thing you can say about Circle of Blood: it doesn't start out slow. You immediately find yourself as George Stobbart, an American in Paris, enjoying a pleasant afternoon at Cafe de la Chandelle Verte, a streetside cafe. An elderly man walks past you into the cafe, carrying a briefcase. Right behind him follows a strange-looking man who is dressed up as a clown. He passes by you and follows the elderly man into the cafe. Moments later, the clown runs out of the cafe, holding the briefcase. Shortly afterwards, you are knocked to the ground by a powerful explosion from inside the cafe. You awaken a short time later and pull yourself out from beneath the rubble. Inside the cafe, you can hear cries for help. You hurry inside to see if you can help. Who would do such a thing?
After talking with the local gendarmes, you find yourself hooked by circumstance. It's obvious that the police aren't going to figure out who the homicidal clown was and why he bombed the cafe. If anyone is going to find out the truth, it will have to be you. After doing some preliminary investigation, you find yourself intertwined in a most unlikely murder plot, terrorism and an ancient medieval manuscript that traces back to an unsolved mystery from 600 years ago, concerning the mysterious Knights Templars. You've come too far to turn back now; the only thing left to do is keep investigating until the truth is revealed.
You continue with the help of Nico, a beautiful French photo-journalist, to track down clues to the identity of the maniacal clown. Following the trail of clues, you find yourself in Ireland, Syria and other exotic locations. The only thing that you can be sure of is that some how this all revolves around the Templar Knights and their legendary undiscovered treasure ... a treasure that some would consider worth killing for.
The interface for this game is wonderfully simple. You merely point with your mouse and George follows. If you want to ask someone for insight into an object that you've found, you merely talk to them and then select the object from your inventory. The game primarily consists of moving George around Paris, Ireland, Scotland, Syria and other places, searching for clues and talking with a wide range of interesting characters. The characters that you meet and the interaction between them is amazingly rich and dialogues can go on for some time.
Ask the right question and you could end up hearing some great one-liners, as your character and others that you meet all seem to have a biting wit. For example, at the scene of the bombing, the cops are interrogating you. You tell them, "I'm innocent, I'm an American." The kindly gendarme replies, "Well, which one is it?" Later on, he tells you, "It's not that I don't like the English; it's a matter of taste ... they don't have any." No one seems immune to the wisecracks.
The actors who do the voices are wonderful and bring to life the sometimes quirky people that you will encounter. It was interesting just to listen to all the various accents that the characters have, as you race around from country to country, but if you begin to find these characters a little too verbose, feel free to click your mouse and that will take you to the end of their speech. Two of the most memorable characters are an Irish kid who hangs out in front the tavern and an Englishwoman that you meet in the hotel. When you show the Irish kid the towel that you stole from the tavern, he looks at you with awe and says, "You're pretty cool." When you find that you just aren't persuasive enough, ask the Englishwoman to give you a hand.
The graphics are painstakingly hand-drawn. The characters themselves are wonderfully drawn and animated to move in very realistic human fashion. The backgrounds are richly detailed and belie the awesome amount of time spent to make each scene in this animated cartoon world look real. Each of these various scenes in which you interact is linked by very fluid animation.
Circle of Blood gameplay is enhanced by the superb soundtrack composed and conducted by Barrington Pheloung, who did the music for "Truly, Madly, Deeply" and "Nostradamus." The really nice thing about the soundtrack was that it added just the right mood to each of the scenes without being overdone or too loud. If you focus in on it, you can hear birds chirping and cars driving down the street, so that even on a static screen, you are given the illusion that life is still going on around you. It really added to the look, the feel and the experience of this game.
I enjoyed Circle of Blood. I have always been interested in the Templar Knights and here is a game that completely revolves around that mysterious order. But a couple of things detracted from my complete enjoyment. First, I began to grow weary of traveling back and forth between two places and having to view all the cut-scenes as George slowly ambled across the screen. Even though it didn't do any good, I found myself clicking my mouse impatiently, hoping that it would somehow take me to the next scene. It made me long for the game Under a Killing Moon, where players can return to locations they've visited before with a simple click on the map. While this may not have been possible in Circle of Blood, it certainly would have been nice to be able to skip through a cut-scene with a mouse click.
The other thing that depressed me was that with everything Circle of Blood had going for it -- a great plot, good acting, wonderful animation and elaborate background graphics -- most of the puzzles were too easy. There were a couple of good puzzles that stumped me -- in Ireland, I lamented for hours, unable to get past a goat. And I did like the fact that not all of the puzzles were static; several were real-time and you had to wait for other secondary characters to do something before you could take certain objects or, yes, even get past a very obnoxious goat. But for the most part, everything that you need to solve each puzzle can be found within a few scenes.
Windows 95: 486DX2-66, 8 MB RAM, 18 MB hard drive space, sound and video card with DirectX 2 complaint drivers, 2X CD-ROM drive, SoundBlaster compatible sound card
DOS version: 486DX2-66, 8 MB RAM, 18 MB hard drive space, sound card with FM and PCM sound capabilities, video card with 1MB RAM with a VESA 1.2 SVGA driver, 2X CD-ROM drive, MSCDEX 2.2 or higher, MS mouse, MS-DOS version 5.0 or higher
Recommended: Pentium 60 (or better), at least 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, 150 MB hard drive space
Reviewed on: P-133, 16 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM drive, Trio 64 video
Circle of Blood is a solid adventure game. It was put together like a movie, with the acting and soundtrack masterfully mixed. The graphics and animation were wonderful, and it is obvious that a lot of time was given to this area of the game. In fact, I enjoyed the entire premise of the game. If you have an interest in the Templar Knights and have enjoyed other animated games like the Riddle of Master Liu, then you will most likely enjoy this game as well. There is plenty to like about this game and they do continue to assault you with one-liners that are guaranteed to make you grin. I give Circle of Blood a score of 82.
Download Circle of Blood/Broken Sword
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP