broken sword
MUSIC MONDAY

Music Monday: Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars

broken 2

The original Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars (or Circle of Blood if you’re in the US) is one of those games of which I retain immensely lucid memories.

Almost as if the protagonist’s thrilling experiences of tracking and ultimately outwitting a sinister cult across picturesque Europe were my own, and not that of preppy Indy-lite George Stobbart.

As well as the smart, sharp writing of Charles Cecil, Dave Cummins and Jonathan Howard (light years ahead of Dan Brown’s painfully clunky prose on similar subjects), the lusciously rendered atmosphere is augmented by the accompanying soundtrack.

Employing the services a ‘known’ composer of television and film works was a relatively unusual strategy at this point, but Revolution Software brought in the opulently monickered Australian Barrington Pheloung to pen Broken Sword’s evocative soundscapes.

At the time Pheloung was best known for his work on ITV’s hugely popular Oxfordshire-based detective series Morse, but has since written scores for a number of projects including the critically acclaimed drama Red Riding for Channel 4, based on David Pearce’s era-spanning novels.

The first two Broken Sword games remain Pheloung’s only videogame work to date.

For the three pieces I’d like to feature, we’ll use -for obvious reasons – the crisper, cleaner restored versions from the Director’s Cut of the game, released in 2009.

We’ll start with this beautiful opening fanfare which correctly predicts adventure, intrigue and globetrotting, before describing the terrorist clown’s accordion bomb attack on a quiet cafe.

George’s Theme is surprisingly serious and urgent for a character who is often played for laughs by the script as well as voice actor Rolf Saxon.

It’s another intricate piece though, referring back to that main theme as well as telling us more of George’s aroused curiosity, his motivations and his fears.

Now, I’m aware that Broken Sword’s take on the Emerald Isle could be seen as the rather patronising, fiddledy-daddledy, pig-under-the-arm-while-supping-a-Guinness caricature of Ireland as favoured by the ignorant.

However, while the earthy types depicted in the game’s rickety pub do rather nod towards that view of the country as a sort of Chao Garden for Leprechauns, the game creators’ warmth and affection for the nation comes through in both the writing and this celtic tinged, violin lead number.

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