Broken Age - Review
Broken Age - Review
A good game from a legendary face. How can we complain about that?
Posted: 05/09/15 | Category: Review | Developer: Double Fine Productions | Publisher: Double Fine Productions | Platform: Android, Ios, Linux, Playstation vita, Playstation 4, Windows, Mac

Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure 
Release date: Act 1 - January 28, 2014, Act 2 - April 28, 2015

Broken Age is a classic adventure game from the mind of Tim Schafer, famous alum from the LucasArts days. This game made waves on Kickstarter and broke many funding records. The Double Fine Adventure surpassed its goal by a large margin, then went down a troubled path full of delays and budget problems. At the end, the game was split into two separate parts. Part 2 was recently released and this review covers the full game.

The Story
 

Broken Age consists of two seemingly separate stories, each following a different character. Would you prefer to start as Shay, a passenger on a spaceship stuck in an endless routine on a journey with an unknown purpose? Or do you want to be Vella, a maiden who was chosen to be sacrificed to Mog Chothra in order to save her village? The stories start separately, yet as the game progresses you’ll find they are intertwined in unexpected ways.

I enjoyed the mystery of Part 1. Slowly, as I watched the two stories unfold, I realized some parallels between the two paths. Vella decides she does not want to be sacrificed and fights back against Mog Chothra; escaping the wrath. She then chases after the beast through other towns in an attempt to destroy it.

Shay is bored on his journey, being forced into an endless routine and acting out fake heroic missions. He is pampered by the ship’s controllers, a sun that acts as his mother and a moon that acts as his father. As Shay sneaks off to explore the dark interiors of the ship, he participates in space battles and tries to save helpless creatures.

At the end of Part 1, the two stories come crashing together, which makes a great cliffhanger. Part 2 shows some role reversal, with each character exploring the other's domain. I liked Part 1 better than Part 2 because the mystery of the game is more satisfying than the resolution. The puzzles are also better and more closely integrated into the storyline.

Puzzles, Sound, and Graphics
 

The day before the second part was released, a Kickstarter update urged everyone to play Part 1 again because there are lots of hints in Part 1 that would help solve Part 2. I decided to do so; however I have no idea what hints I was supposed to pick up.

Part 1 received some criticism about being too easy, and the difficulty was notably increased for the second half of the game. Unfortunately, the increase in difficulty only proved to frustrate instead of challenge. We have the knot puzzle, which is kind of like Insult Sword Fighting from the Monkey Island games re-imagined, except in a sloppy and confusing way with lots of inefficiencies built in. Another puzzle involves wiring up bots for different purposes, and figuring out all the various iterations is a challenge.

The integration between storylines feels forced in Part 2. You need info and hints from Vella’s storyline to complete Shay’s storyline and vice versa. However, the two characters have no way to communicate, so it's up to you as the independent observer to put the pieces together. It pulled me out of the story which lessened the emotional impact and enjoyment.

The game's voice acting is good, and a lot of big names are behind the main characters. The sound design and musical soundtrack suited the game fine. The animation style was comic-ish and quite enjoyable. The game is beautiful to look at, and although it doesn’t have the depth of something like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the graphics perfectly suited the gameplay.

The ending has a few cinematic choices that are nonsensical. The game tries to allude to a romance between Vella and Shay even though the two characters have very little direct interaction. I wanted to keep this review relatively spoiler free, so you’ll have to discover the plot intricacies on your own.

Final Thoughts
 

Some said that Broken Age would herald in a new age in adventure games. In one way it did. The success of the Kickstarter resulted in a lot more people looking at our genre. Many game designers - both old and new - have brought adventure games to crowdfinding platforms, creating a lot more games for us to enjoy. That is good for those of us who are long-time adventure gamers.

However, Broken Age does not tread new territory or reinvent the genre in any way. It’s just a good game from a legendary face. How can we complain about that? Try it out; I’m sure you’ll find something to love.

 
Grade: B
 
An adventure in the vein of old school LucasArts titles
Whimsical cartoony graphics
Play as two separate characters
 
Part 2 increases puzzle difficulty, but primarily the difficulty seemed tacked on as an afterthought as opposed to integrated into the story.
 
 
 Logo
 
 
System Requirements
 
MINIMUM PC:
OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, ATI Radeon 4870 HD, Intel HD 3000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 2.5 GB available space
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3
 
MINIMUM Mac:
OS: Snow Leopard 10.6.8 or later 
Processor: Intel Core Duo
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 120, ATI Radeon 4850 HD, Intel HD 3000, or equivalent card with at least 512 MB VRAM
Hard Drive: 2.5 GB available space
Additional Notes: Must have OpenGL 3 with GLSL version 1.3
 
Specials from Digital Download
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