is a beautiful game. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a piece of art. I'm not going to open up the "Are Games Art?" can of worms argument, but I can say without a doubt that THIS GAME is a brilliant work of art.
Everyone knows the story of this game, but here's a quick recap if you aren't a part of "everyone": Tim Schafer and Doublefine started a Kickstarter asking for $300,000 to make an adventure game. The project exploded and they received over $3.3 Million. The game took a lot longer to make than anticipated, partially because they decided to make a much bigger game than they had originally planned now that they had way more funds than they thought they would. Instead of a delivery date of October 2012, the first half of Broken Age
was available for backers to play in January of 2014, with the second half arriving in April of the same year. Along with the game, backers were given access to an episodic documentary of the making of the project. Now that that's all out of the way, let's talk about the game.
Vella is offered to the monster Mog Chothra but she has other plans...
It's hard to talk about an adventure game without spoilers. Adventure games are filled with puzzles, some easy, some hard, but all very clever (at least, if it's a good adventure game). That makes talking about the specifics of exactly what makes the game great difficult without spoiling a puzzle or a story element. The resulting reviews end up talking in generalities about abstract aspects of the game, it's humor, or art-style. It's kind of like talking about the Portal
games. You can't explain the puzzle in the review, you can only say that the puzzle rooms are laid our very well and that you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you solve each one. That's what Broken Age
is like. You are presented with an obstacle and you have to figure out how to overcome it using the environment or items in your inventory. Oftentimes, the obvious solution is not the solution, but the game will give you an indication that you are on the right track, just take your idea a little further, or look at it a different way. This is what makes Broken Age
so great, but at the same time, less accessible.
The cloud city of Meriloft
Adventure games thrived on the PC before the explosion of the Internet. There was no gamefaqs, so your puzzle solving sources were store-bought strategy guides, "1-900" hint lines, ideas from your friends, and your own wit. If you couldn't figure out the solution to a puzzle, you had to stop for a moment, really think about it, and try a few things. If you became frustrated with a certain puzzle, there was normally something else you could do while you figured out a solution. There are also situations when you don't have the item or items in your inventory required to solve a particular puzzle, so more exploration is necessary. All of these elements take the pace of gameplay down to a slower speed than many people playing modern games want to go. They also bring a certain type of frustration into gaming. Usually, when a game is frustrating, you can practice and get better at it. That's not usually the case in an adventure game.
Jack Black provides the voice for the delightful Harm'ny Lightbeard
For the vast majority of Broken Age
, the puzzles are very clever and the game points you in the right direction enough that you feel challenged, but not frustrated. That is, until you reach the finale...
The game is split up into two Acts. In both Act I and Act II, you can switch control between the two main characters. Once you have completed Act II with both Vella and Shay, the "Finale" begins. You need to solve one last, biggish puzzle with multiple parts while switching back and forth between the two characters/areas. There are two main problems with the finale. The first problem is that the puzzle you are trying to solve is VERY difficult and VERY abstract. I spent a long, long time on this one puzzle just trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. Then, once I figured out what the problem was, it took a long time to figure out the abstract solution. It was a frustrating way to end an otherwise joyful game.
Elijah wood provides the voice for Shay, the boy raised on a space ship, by a space shipBroken Age
makes me want to go back and play through some of the other Tim Schafer games that I haven't played in a while. Grim Fandango Remastered
will probably be next; I purchased it during the lackluster Steam Winter Sale. Also, lets not forget that Full Throttle
is getting the Remastered treatment, but that won't hit until 2017. That will give me plenty of time to play through a few other games like Monkey Island
.....but I digress. It's hard to go wrong recommending Broken Age
to anyone, even non-adventure gamers. It's fun, its beautiful, it's funny, and it's available across PC, console, and touch platforms for not a lot of dollars.