Broken Age is a tale of breaking off from the status quo and plotting your own course in life. The same goes for Tim Schafer and his colleagues at Double Fine; who three years ago set out to create a new point and click adventure game, in a an industry where shooters and RPGs are the current trend. Act I of Broken Age was released last year, giving players just a taste of what the full game had to offer. Fans of Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle can rejoice, because the complete Broken Age experience lives up to the storytelling and challenging puzzles of the adventure game genre.
Broken Age features two main protagonists, Vella and Shay. Vella is a confident teenage girl; who decides not to accept her fate of being fed to the monster Mog Chothra at the Maiden’s Feast, but instead tries to fight back. In the past, the monster has spared the town of Sugar Bunting from being destroyed, by accepting sacrifices in exchange for the town’s well-being. Shay is a teenage boy, stuck living on a space ship called the Bassinostra. He completes mundane tasks given to him by an artificial intelligence, who acts as a mother figure. After getting tired of completing the same tasks over and over again, Shay decides to try and break out of his routine.
Adventure games always come down to a few basic game mechanics; pointing, clicking, and solving puzzles. The first act of Broken Age is fairly easy compared to adventure games of the 90’s. Act II, however is where the real challenge begins. After the addition of the second Act, there is no clear distinction between Act I and II except the change in difficulty. If you have already finished Act I, it would serve you well to play it again as subtle reference and jokes are carried over to Act II.
Controlling your characters are very simple, just click on the place you want them to go and they go there. Solving puzzles involves talking to the weird and delightful characters you’ll see throughout the world, obtaining objects from them and using them to complete your objectives. Other objects used for puzzle solving can be found by scanning your environment or solving challenging riddles. If you ever get stuck on puzzle, you are free to swap between Vella or Shay at any time; giving you more of a fresh take when you switch back to the puzzle you were stuck on previously.
Some of the puzzles in the second half of the game were quite challenging. I told myself before I started playing, that I wasn’t going to look up any of the solutions to the puzzles. However, there were a few that had me so stumped, that I had to look them up to progress. Therein lies the one major problem I have with the game, some of the puzzle solutions were too obscure for me to move forward. Fans of the adventure genre will probably enjoy the challenge; as a recent newcomer to this type of game, it bugged me that some solutions were so carefully hidden.
The first thing that drew me to Broken Age was the graphics. All of the environments and characters are hand-drawn, with vibrant colors resembling an illustrated children’s book that has come to life. The dialogue is very well written as well. Tim Schafer has injected his whimsical sense of humor to make all of the characters very likeable. A few of the characters are voiced by familiar faces, such as Elijah Wood as the voice of Shay, Jennifer Hale as the voice of the computer A.I., and Jack Black as a silly character that I won’t spoil for you here.
Broken Age’s soundtrack is incredible, with stringed instruments bringing a sense of wonder and exploration to the world that fit the tone of the game perfectly.
I really enjoyed my time with Broken Age, frustrating puzzles aside. The story kept me intrigued to the very end. In a couple of months I can see myself going back and playing it again, to spend more time with the charming characters that Schafer has created. If you are one of the gamers who have enjoyed the adventure games of the past, then this should be one game that you should add to your collection. As for the newcomers, give the game a try. I’ve dabbled in adventure games before and have found this game to be the most accessible of them all. It’s time to go on an adventure.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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