Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC
Released: (Act 1-2014) (Act 2-2015)
Broken age started life back in 2012 as a Kickstarter project under the name Double Fine Adventure. With an initial development goal of $400,000 it soon smashed that by hitting £3.45 million with 87,000 backers. Broken age became the largest crowdfunded video game project at the time and also proved that crowd funding was a viable way for developers to fund their games and help their ideas and creations come to fruition. It showed that not only was their interest out there for a game still in early development but there was also the people and the funds to back the project. Many indie developers have now taken the crowd funding sites to help with their development and marketing costs with varying results.
This Kickstarter game was a nice little surprise for me, I don’t play a wide variety of PC games – mainly because I haven’t got a very good performance PC, but that’s another story – anyways, back my main point, Broken Age is Tim Schafer’s first return to games since the old school 1998 classic Grim Fandango. Broken Age is a point-and-click puzzle adventure game which has a lot of heart, let’s get into the actual review shall we.
Broken Age’s point-and-click game style is simple and standard, but what makes this game great is it’s fun characters, fantastic world, and witty dialogue. At first glance, it looks mainly for children, given its quirky art, but give it a bit of time and you’ll fall in love with all things oddly shaped. And although I did not expect it, Broken Age had a pretty good backstory and lore when you exhausted the dialogue options and connected the dots, that detail brought depth to the game and immersed me completely.
We start our little adventure by being able to pick one of two main characters: Shay, a boy on a spaceship, and Vella, a girl in the sitting in the shade of a tree. Now don’t worry, you can switch characters as you please and you will have to finish both characters story to advance plotlines. Both characters are stuck in their own little worlds, stuck in a loop they desperately want to break, for Shay it is routine, for Vella it is tradition. I don’t want to give too much away from the plot, but from there, we delve into their lives and see how they are able to connect in quite an unexpected way.
At it’s core, Broken Age is a puzzle game. Throughout the gameplay we are able to interact with many characters who ultimately each help you progress, and there are also items for you to find which you can either use yourself, give it to another character, or combine with certain items. I have to say that while the game gives plenty of hints, there were a handful of times where I could get stuck because I had missed a small detail or couldn’t see how two items could connect to one another – and a side note to those that have played the game, damn that knot puzzle!! – but eventually trudged through it even though I was a slightly frustrated in the end. The balance of difficulty of the puzzles in Act 1 and Act 2 were really off. In Act 1, the puzzles may have been a bit too easy at times, but still held some sort of challenge, but some of the puzzles in Act 2 were just tedious and unnecessarily complicated.
Every character in the game was amazing, sure some of the people held very few lines, but everyone you decided to talk to were engaging, had unique quirks to make them memorable, and had some of the most witty dialogue I’ve heard in a while from a game with this type of atmosphere. I also commend the fantastic voice acting cast for their amazing skill, some of which included Elijah Wood (Happy Feet), Jack Black (School of Rock), Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect), and Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time).
I had my ups and downs with Broken Age, from the tedious puzzles to the loveable characters and the amount of time I had to wait between the releases of Act 1 and Act 2 (which won’t be a problem for people now) but I have to say my experience has been a good one. I recommend people to play Tim Schafer’s Broken Age.
- Fun Characters (both minor and major)
- Fantastical World
- Quirky Art
- Tedious Puzzles