Broken Age is not a game for everyone, it is however a game for anyone. Some of the generation raised on the instant gratification of games like Call of Duty will find it’s point and click pace to be incredibly dull and cumbersome, but the one time Double Fine Kickstarter Adventure game harkens back to an almost extinct genre and shows us all just how it can be cool again. It may not do much in terms of adding to the genre, but that shouldn’t matter when a game is this charming, goregeous and fun to play. It may be early in the year, but Broken Age is likely to be one of your favorite games of 2014.
Published by: Double Fine
Platform: Pc, Mac, iOS, Andorid
What works: Great voice work and art direction | Cool switch mechanic |Double Fine makes an adventure game!|
What doesn’t work: Not much new here.
Broken age tells the tale of two seemingly completely separate troubled souls. There’s Shay, the possible last human alive who is the sole inhabitant of a space ship built to find him a new home. He’s bored, he’s looking for something new, something to keep him sane. On the other side is Vella, a young girl in the town of Sugar Bunting who, according to local custom is set to be sacrificed to a giant beast monster known as Mog Chothra. It’s not much of a spoiler to let you know that the two lives will eventually come together in a rather unique and spectacular fashion, but Double Fine has crafted two remarkably interesting stories that you won’t lost interest in quickly at all. The game features a mechanic that let’s you switch between the two worlds at almost anytime, but you really could finish one story and then go right to the other without switching.
A major reason why you’re sure to find yourself so enthralled with Broken Age is just how much time and care obviously went into the creation of the game and it’s world. Filled with remarkable performances by both the leads and supporting cast including voice work by Elijah wood, Will Wheaton Jack Black and others, Broken age is a world you can believe in no matter how fantastically out there it all is. Thanks to the remarkable art design and the game’s drop-dead gorgeous visuals, it’s as fun to learn about the worlds here as it was in any recent game. Perhaps most surprising is just how daring Broken Age really is. We all expected a Double Fine game to be rich with humor but the game goes into some pretty risky territory by mixing in themes of sadness, loneliness and sacrifice and the result is something no one really expected.
Gameplay wise, Broken Age feels like a love letter to the point and click games of the early 90s. Schaefer is unquestionably at his best here and proves that he hasn’t missed a step since the era of Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island. Puzzles are incredibly fun and rewarding to play through and all feature solid logic (at least when it comes to the world they’re set in). There were a handful of times when I did start to get overwhelmed with a puzzle but because of the game’s ability to switch between Shay and Vella at will, you’re able to take a break from either story whenever things get too heavy.
Broken Age may not do much in terms of adding new features and content to the genre – most of what’s here has been established for over a decade, but Double Fine does do a great job in streamlining the process. Navigating through Broken Age feels much more fluid and intuitive than any of its predecessors. I can’t tell you how great it felt to just be able to take an item and move it where I needed it rather than have to cycle through my inventory constantly. There are some issues with having to constantly having to enter and exit into your inventory to get an item while it’s in there but it’s an issue you’ll easily overlook.
After all the hype and PR about Double Fine’s return to adventure games, Double Fine’s Broken Age Act 1 is nothing short of a validation. It’s charming, it’s nostalgic but most importantly – it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play. Broken Age may not do much new for the genre but it does remind us why adventure games, and more specifically adventure games headed by a guy named Tim Schaefer are such a big deal. Plain and simple – go play Broken Age, I can’t recommend it enough.
Editor’s Note: Broken age is currently available to early backers of the game’s Kickstarter and will become available to the public for PC and Mac on January 28th. It will be available for iOS and Android later this year.