- Amazing writing and voice-acting
- Captures the brilliance of the old point-and-click
- Beautiful art design
- Act II doesn’t introduces many different areas
Point-and-click adventure games, especially those from the master class that is Tim Schafer, hold a special place within a lot of gamers. Games like Fate of Atlantis, Sam & Max and Day of the Tentacle tested me with some tricky and often severely challenging puzzles and made me laugh out loud with their excellent writing and voice acting. Double Fine’s Kickstarted project; Broken Age takes me back to that era with some genuinely perplexing puzzles, beautiful art design, flawless writing, unexpected twists and well-timed gags. After stepping away from the genre for a number of years, Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions bring the classic point-and-click adventure genre into a new era spectacularly in this two-part adventure.
Broken Age is a bizarre boy meets girl tale about two unique characters as they decide to stop being told what to do and finally take control of their lives. Vella is a young woman from Sugar Bunting, a vibrant fantastical place where baking is the lifeblood of all of the friendly townsfolk. Vella has been chosen as a sacrifice for the huge monster that comes to feast every 14 years. As she begins to question why her townsfolk just lie down and accept this horrible fate, Vella makes it her mission to stand up and fight against the evil tyrant that plagues them all. Shay on the other hand is somewhat of an astronaut prisoner inside a massive spaceship that is run by a computer with a sole purpose is to make sure Shay is safe. As Shay starts to realize that he wants more out of life and discovers another life form on board the desolate spaceship, he questions what is really going on aboard the Bossa Nostra spaceship.
The way that Broken Age’s story juggles the witty comedic writing that Schafer is known for, with some truly dark themes such as isolation, sacrifice and rebelling against oppression, is a true testament to the quality of Schafer and his team. Allowing me to laugh out loud at a crude joke one minute and genuinely care for the characters the next is a difficult place to land in video games but Schafer is truly a master of the art when it comes to this.
While discovering the ins and outs of the Bossa Nostra with Shay or the peculiar towns of Meriloft, a township that sits on top of the clouds and Shellmound, a cozy settlement on the seaside with Vella, you will meet a whole bevy of eccentric characters that you will grow to care for as you help and hinder them during the many different puzzles along the way. The art in Broken Age is absolutely beautiful. Vibrant colors flood fantastic backdrops and the quirky character designs perfectly fit into the beautiful world Double Fine has created.
Despite being out of the point-and-click game for some time, Schafer didn’t lose his touch for building smart, distinctive and sometimes incredibly challenging puzzles. Even though most of them only took me a short time to figure out, there were definitely some genuinely tough ones thrown in there. Some even had me getting out the pen and paper to write things down I had to remember or even stepping away from the character for a while so I could come back to it with fresh eyes. Even though some of the puzzles really had me thinking, that ‘ah-ha’ moment at the end was just as enjoyable as I could remember. The dual storylines is an excellent feature in Broken Age, being able to seamlessly swap between either character allowed me to keep the ball rolling when I got stuck on one side of the story, letting me come back to the problem I was having trouble with after I had progressed further on the other side.
The first act of Broken Age does an excellent job of introducing you to the new vibrant world and all of its inhabitants. Regardless if you are zooming through space on the Bossa Nostra or discovering the unusual towns with Vella, exceptional writing and brilliant voice acting allows Act I to be a brilliant introduction to Schafer’s new setting. All wrapping up in a crazy fashion that turns everything you thought you knew on its head.
After the revelations of the first installment, Act II puts each of the characters in a different situation to what they had become accustom to. The writing is as strong as Act I and the puzzles become even more elaborate and more challenging. My only desire would have been that Act II opened up the world a little more and introduced us to more unique settings and characters.
Broken Age is absolute proof that despite his long time away from the point-and-click adventure, Tim Schafer has still got it. The impeccable balance between comedic writing and serious themes is capped off with thought-provoking puzzles, fantastic voice acting and a beautiful art design. The stirring tale of Vella and Shay will have you emotionally attached to each of the characters while boiling down to a remarkable conclusion. Broken Age permits you to slip back into the nostalgia of what came before as well as having the ability to usher the genre into the present. This is hopefully a sign of more brilliance to come out of Double Fine Productions.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita version of Broken Age developed and published by Double Fine Productions.