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Broken Age
Broken Age

PC
Genre: Adventure Players: 1
Developer: Double Fine Productions Official Site: http://brokenagegame.com/
Publisher:
Release Date:
29th January 2014
Broken Age Part I Review
Review By @ 02:57pm 17/01/14
PC
Step away from the Kickstarter stuff, sweep aside questions of exactly how the millions have (or are being) spent. Just look at Broken Age as a game. It’s surprisingly easy to do, actually. There’s nothing half-done here, nothing that doesn’t feel like a tidy, heartfelt adventure title from the genre’s best creators.

The first thing you notice is the art style – it’s gorgeous. Painterly and crosshatched, but not low-res. Every background is lovingly crafted and the environments feel surprisingly three dimensional. The animation, too, is quirky but life-like enough to inject true character. It’s almost stop motion in nature, so that the overall effect is a cross between the nascent papercraft of South Park and Skyward Sword’s pastels. This is added to with some superb writing and voice acting. Each character is full and rich, with easy delivery of lines, so that you actually want to click through every conversation branch. Notable voices that you might recognise include Jennifer Hale, Wil Wheaton, Elijah Wood and Jack Black.




Good-natured humour is difficult to pull off, but Broken Age manages to do it, with many moments that are clever rather than crass, charming rather than devlish. A woodworker’s urgent musings about his desire to make a stool, and then relief after “spreading his samples around” is an example of the broad yet generally mark-hitting humour employed.

Curiously, the structure of the game (as well as being separated into acts) is split between two seemingly unrelated stories. There are a few hints as to the relationship between these two narratives, but in this first act it’s not made clear early enough why this structure was necessary. In fact, if you complete Vella’s part before Shay’s there’s a pretty major spoiler – so we’d suggest playing through as Shay first.

Still, both stories are unique and interesting, which is important because the puzzles in Broken Age are far from complex. There are a few self-contained areas where you need to find certain objects, combine them and then use them at the right moment, but for the most part the puzzles are spread over a wide area and unfold at a sedate pace. You rarely have more than three or four objects with you at one time and as a result everything seems a bit simple.



The stories themselves are really cool, though, so that it feels more like a linear storybook with low hurdles to jump over. Vella’s story starts with her preparing to be sacrificed to a roaming monster called Mog Chothra. She’s not too impressed with the idea of being eaten alive, even if her family is a little too enthusiastic for the ceremony.

Once Vella escapes, she makes it her goal to kill Mog Chothra so that the remaining villages can live without the fear of annihilation – and keep their young women from being eaten. She encounters scorn and derision at every turn, an entire civilisation hegemonically tuned to appease the monster. Vella’s story is heavy on dialogue and moves at a slower pace.

Shay’s story echoes the themes of coming-of-age and wanting to upset the status quo. He is similarly alone, trapped in a spaceship bent on “entertaining” him with pitiful simulations of heroic events. Unfortunately, the computer AI, who claims to be his mother, has failed to realise Shay is no longer seven years old, and so his life is a repetitive, childish hell. Eventually, Shay discovers a more adult adventure (or does he?) which requires him to explore the ship in a covert manner.




I found Shay’s story to be the more satisfying of the two, mostly because of the interesting yet confined situation. It’s quirky and intriguing, featuring a strange knitting theme where woolen friends play out their roles for Shay as fake victims of fictional space attacks and there’s a central weaver who stitches galaxy coordinates into the navigation system.

There may not be much actual “game” in Broken Age Act 1, but as a window into two interesting and charming adventures it easily fulfills the Kickstarter promise. The presentation is beautiful and unique, as are the settings and characters. The puzzles are the weakest parts, with a stripped-back interface that offers little beyond combining things and using them on people and specific spots. Hopefully, Act 2 will show more integration of the two stories, as well as tweak the pace and interactive stretch of both adventures.



Dylan Burns enjoys third-person shooters (Max Payne 3, Resident Evil 4 and Alan Wake in particular), adventure titles and anything with a strong narrative focus. Exploration in games is important to him, but he's not too worried if the action is heavily directed; it's important that a story gets told. Dylan loves all gaming platforms but is in love with the Vita of late, both for replaying recent classics (The Walking Dead, Hotline Miami) and the exciting possibilities of PS4 link support. When not writing about games, he is focused on writing fiction. Dylan has completed two novel manuscripts in the last two years and is partway through a third, with hopes of securing a publisher soon.

Recent articles by Dylan:Find him on Twitter - @d_p_burns and PSN - GameboffinAU
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What we liked
  • Beautiful art design, animation and voice work
  • Two original and engaging stories (well, the first parts of them)
  • Good natured humour
What we didn't like
  • The dual stories could have been integrated more clearly
  • The puzzles are simple and the interface limited
  • Pacing sags in quite a few places
More
We gave it:
8.8
OUT OF 10
Latest Comments
XandraX
Posted 10:29pm 17/1/14
It's pretty awesome to play an adventure game again. It's super pretty and super funny. It's not very hard, but that's okay with me - I don't have hours to spend trying all different combinations of things.
XandraX
Posted 07:55pm 29/1/14
This got released officially today - everyone (EVERYONE!!!) should buy this game and help stop the rot of creativity in the industry.
Ross
Posted 10:58pm 30/1/14
I play a lot of adventure games and this one is pretty s*** boring so far :( I was expecting a lot more and feel let down.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 11:10pm 30/1/14

This got released officially today - everyone (EVERYONE!!!) should buy this game and help stop the rot of creativity in the industry.


You want an excellent Adventure/RPG.

Try Tome 4. An excellent, very creative game with lots of variations and awesomeness. O and it's free.

RuleofBooKz
Posted 01:44am 31/1/14

This got released officially today - everyone (EVERYONE!!!) should buy this game and help stop the rot of creativity in the industry.


I thought this has already been paid for and supported? Actually Zero punctuation just did a bit on it -

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/8744-Broken-Age

hmm sry its a link not the actual vid as even tho they show embed codes i cant seem to figure out how to get the vid embedded ;(
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