Broken Age (Act 1) Review
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: Out Now
Broken Age Act 1 may not be the first Kickstarter game but it certainly has the chance to start a revolution in that genre. The project, once asking for $400,000, went on to raise over 3.5 million dollars, which was the culmination of almost 100,000 backers. Now after two years of waiting the adventure formerly known as Double Fine Adventure has finally made its debut.
Broken Age follows the lives of Shay and Vella, two young teenagers yearning to escape from their predestined paths. Shay, is a coddled space explorer, stuck going on unexciting missions thanks to a computer that behaves an awful lot like an overbearing mother who is unwilling to allow him to take care of himself. His life is about as exciting as a Bill Belichick press conference and he’s incredibly bored. Vella, is a baker about to be served up as an annual sacrifice to a giant monster. But unlike the other girls in her town who view the ritual as an honor, she isn’t exactly excited about the prospect of being eaten like a tasty pastry. While the game’s story concerns two characters who you play separately from each other, both share the same goal as they are trying to escape from something. For Shay, it’s the boredom of his existence. He longs to actually go on a real mission and do some real good. Eventually, he gets his chance, teaming up with a strange fox creature to travel through the stars and save helpless aliens from certain doom. Vella’s escape is much more literal — she doesn’t want to be eaten. But more than that, she wants to turn the tables, and vows to destroy the giant creature known as Mog Chothra once and for all. Paramount to any adventure game is a great storyline that grabs you in and thankfully, Broken Age shines in that aspect. Both protagonists, which you are free to switch between at any time, are compelling characters that you want to spend time with. Both of their worlds have very different moods and it’s a fantastic device to be able to change from Vella to Shay and back. The dope voice acting which nimbly avoids coming off as cheesy is just the icing on the cake.
Gameplay wise Broken Age doesn’t do much new but this is not a bad thing because backers of the game desired a traditional click-and-point adventure and this is what producer Double Fine delivered. The control scheme is very simple, with a one-button-does-all approach. Click somewhere to move, click on an object to interact with it. What sets the game apart and truly pushes it into the modern age is the artwork. Quite plainly, this is one of the best looking games ever produced. Both worlds are relatively small, but gloriously realized, with their hand-drawn look and a surprising variety of sprite animation, costume changes and characters. Each part of Vella’s journey takes her to a different fantastical setting, including a cloudy realm where snow-shoes are needed to avoid sinking and falling to the ground, and her own baking town. Shay’s meanwhile is a mix of high technology and nursery props—his bridge for instance just toys embedded into panels that he’s long since realized do absolutely nothing. The one minor disappointment is that Broken Age doesn’t offer much in terms of challenging puzzles. It presents amusing ideas and fun results, but they are terribly easy. Almost everything boils down to using stock inventory objects, and with only a handful of screens and objects, it’s usually immediately obvious what needs to be done.
The XXL Endgame
When Broken Age was pitched it was billed as “a classic point-and-click adventure,” and that description turned out to be incredibly accurate. Its story is compelling, very funny and captivating, giving you questions and clues in a gorgeous world filled with unforgettable characters. If you are an adventure game fan, Broken Age is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. – written by DJ Rhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: XL