IF IT AIN’T BROKE…
Broken Age, the latest adventure game from Tim Schafer and the crew at Double Fine, is a beautiful, thoughtful game that challenges players with puzzles as well as themes of loneliness, societal pressure and sacrifice. Chances are players have dealt with these themes in their lives at one point or another, and that’s why I’m confident that Broken Age will resonate with many, many people.
Broken Age begins with its dual protagonists, Shay and Vella, dissatisfied with their lots in life. Shay is a lone astronaut looking to break out of the routines set for him by the ship’s computer, while Vella is a young maiden that’s been put forth to be a sacrifice to a town-destroying monster named Mog Chothra. These tales, just like the duality of the protagonists, are both poignant and hilarious at once. The themes on display are universal, and it’s easy to get on both Shay and Vella’s side in their plights. The story in Broken Age is excellent.
Broken Age is gorgeous from beginning to end. It looks like an animated chalk pastel drawing, with amazing details in the character design and environments. Environments are extremely varied, and have a level of detail and polish that’s uncanny. Characters are just as detailed, each with a storybook-like quality that makes them very endearing. The game runs perfectly, with no issues affecting my playthrough. The voice cast of Broken Age is exceptional, and features a host of big names from both Hollywood and video game voice acting. You’ll hear from Elijah Wood, Masasa Moyo, Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, and Wil Wheaton. The cast is a great balance of zany and serious, each giving the characters a lot of heart. The music in Broken Age is sublime. The score is a wonderful mix of music that fits both stories well and adds a lot to the ambience of the game.
The gameplay of Broken Age should be familiar to anyone that has played anything that Tim Schafer has done in the past. It’s classic point-and-click adventure, full-stop, but with many modern improvements. The cursor assigned to the left stick is easy to use, and it’s easy to click on the correct objects to accomplish tasks. The right stick snaps the cursor to any object in the environment that is of interest or can be interacted with. You can also fast travel through an area with a double-click of the X button on a door. These iterations on the classic point-and-click adventure genre tropes are welcomed additions that streamline the gameplay in a great way. The puzzles in Broken Age range from simple to the extremely difficult near the end of Act Two. Players will have to be very astute in their observations and knowledge of how the world works to get through puzzles quickly. There were puzzles in the second act that had me making charts, taking notes, and drawing diagrams. This may alienate some players, but with some perseverance, players should be able to make it through Act Two.
The Verdict: 9.4 out of 10
Broken Age is a wonderful return to classic point-and-click adventure games. It’s an excellent tale of two young people trying to break out of the mold that society has put them in. It’s beautiful, brilliantly designed, and has a lot of heart behind the gorgeous graphics. If you like adventure games, you need to play Broken Age.
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Landon Peterson is an associate writer for MONG, and currently feels light as a feather. Follow his quest for lightness on Twitter.