Game Review: Broken Age Act 1

Broken Age Act 1
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: January 28th 2014

After raising over 3.3 million dollars nearly two years ago on Kickstarter, Broken Age is finally being released on January 28th. Double Fine has decided to split up the game into two parts and release act 1 now and act 2 sometime in the near future. So has this point and click adventure been worth the wait? And more importantly, is it worth your money?

Broken Age follows two separate stories of teenagers Vella and Shay. Vella lives in the land of Sugar Bunting, and her story starts on the day of the Maidens Feast. This is where young ladies sacrifice themselves to the monster known as Mog Chothra to ensure the safety of their town, something they have done for generations. But Vella wonders why nobody just tries to kill Mog Chothra instead of sacrificing themselves for him. So her story follows her quest to save her town and kill the giant monster.

Shay on the other hand lives alone on a spaceship. He has been alone since birth and has been raised by AI parents on the ship. He has the same routine every day and does automated missions that have no real importance. Shay wants more excitement in his life and his plan is to outsmart the overprotective, overbearing ship and take control of it for himself.

Both stories are about these young adults trying to change their circumstances. Vella and Shay are trying to break away from what is pre-determined for them and Broken Age is really about what it means to grow up. The story is incredibly well written and is perhaps one of my favorites in any recent adventure game. And if you know developer Tim Schafer‘s previous work, you know that he tends to have a lot of humor in his games. And Broken Age is no exception. The humor in this game is one of its hidden gems and there is something that you are sure to find funny in nearly every scene.

When you start the game you can choose who you want to play as first, Vella or Shay. Although at any time during the game you can switch to the other character. I thought this was a great concept. It might come in handy if you get stuck and instead of quitting the game you can just switch to the other character. Although I stuck with one characters story all the way though then played the other. I started with Vella and then went on to Shay and both stories were incredibly interesting.

Broken Age is a point and click adventure that will have you interacting with people and objects to progress through the story. You can add objects that you find through the game into your inventory and use them to complete somewhat basic puzzles. I just want to say that the screen of the game is incredibly clean. What I mean by that is there is nothing blocking the beautiful world. If you need to access your inventory you just drag your mouse to the bottom of the screen and click the arrow and it brings up the inventory. There is no clunky menu to click on that takes you away from the game. And I thought the idea that you can combine certain objects to solve puzzles was great as well.

As far as the puzzles go, as I said they are somewhat basic. That is the only thing that I wasn’t crazy about in the game. There is not a lot to click on or not a lot to interact with in each scene so when you go to solve puzzles they are fairly easy. There was one or two times where I was actually completely stuck for a couple of minutes and didn’t know what to do. But then shortly after I figured out what was going on and solved the puzzle. But as far as the rest of gameplay goes, I enjoyed the dialog trees that came from talking to all the different people. Each interaction seemed meaningful and important. And the actual movement of the game worked well too. From clicking on the ground to get where you need to go, to dragging objects to people to give it to them to see what they will do with it. It all works really well, I just wish the puzzles were a bit more challenging.

The art design of Broken Age is out of this world. It feels like each scene was taken out of a children’s picture book and everything is amazingly crafted and incredibly beautiful. Shays world on the spaceship tends to be darker colors and more blues, while Vella comes across different towns that all have wonderful color pallets that are very vibrant and unique. My favorite place that I came across was in Vella’s story. It was the cloud city of Meriloft. The people live high up in the clouds and it is just so whimsical and everything from the people of the town to the clouds themselves to the birds are extremely well crafted.

The other component of the game that was sensational and is up there with the art design is the sound design. The sounds that you hear in each place are great and make you want to stick around just to hear everything that is going on. But the best aspect of the game is probably the voice acting. Broken age has such a strong cast of voice actors and their presence brings the game to life. The most prominent voice actors in the game are:

Shay: Elijah Wood
Harm’ny: Jack Black
Curtis: Wil Wheaton
Mom: Jennifer Hale
Gus: Pendleton Ward
Vella: Masasa Moyo

My favorite performances come from the two protagonists, Elijah Wood and Masasa Moyo who play Shay and Vella respectively. They made the characters memorable and believable. Although again, every character that you come across are extremely well voiced.

Overall this is a very strong start to Broken Age, with this being only Act 1. It will take you about four hours to finish all of Act 1 spending about two hours on each character. I thought I would enjoy the Shay story more before I started the game because he is in space, however Vella and her story really stood out for me. While both stories are really great, Vella gets to travel across vibrant interesting towns and her quest just really spoke to me. Act 1 was incredibly well written with many moments of humor sprinkled throughout the game. And there is a decent cliffhanger at the end of Act 1 that will make you long for Act 2. Broken Age is definitely worth the wait and is a game that you really consider if you are into point and click adventure games.

+Well Written Story
+Creative/Imaginative Art Style
+Strong Voice Acting

– Simple Puzzles

Final Score 4.5/5


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