Broken Age is a beautiful point and click adventure with a unique story that we hoped to get from Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions.
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Double Fine Productions is a game development studio which started a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and broke the ice for gaming industry regarding crowdfunding. Tim Schafer, the creator of Grim Fandango and co-creator of The Secret of Monkey Island was the name that got so much attention. No wonder that Broken Age got so many backers and raised more than 3,336,000 through crowdfunding platform. Expectations were high and everyone was hoping to play a game similar to the Monkey Island.
I was one of those gamers who couldn’t wait to try Broken Age, and even though the game was later split into two Acts, it did not matter. Better to have it that way than to see a game postponed for months. So, the Act 1 finally launched and the waiting was over. As we already knew there are two characters and each has its own story.
Vella is a young girl getting ready for the Maiden Feast where maidens are being offered as a sacrifice to a monster. Seem rather odd that her whole family is happy about the fact she will be eaten by an ugly monster. Everyone but her grandfather who tells Vella how their village used to fight the monster in a past. Now she realizes there might be another way to defeat the enemy and to save her life. Everything in Vella’s world looks like you have just entered a candy shop. The girl lives in a baking village, though all other maps she visits resemble a fairy tale. Such a gorgeously designed world set within a dark story.
Unlike Vella, Shay lives on a spacecraft guarded by his “Mommy” who is a smiley face computer. She is overprotective and treats a boy like a little child, despite the fact he is a teenager. Shay is forced to go on adventures which bore him and you can see that with every line of a dialogue. From waking up in the morning and eating cereals for breakfast, through some cute missions, all the way to going back to bed. Until the boy accidentally meets a new character and opens the door for a real adventure. We have no idea how Shay ended up in a spaceship and why the computer is so protective. Well at least not at first, but it will be revealed when you progress through boy’s story.
Both stories are connected, if you listen to dialogues carefully, you will find clues though it all seems scrambled at the moment. Although girl’s and boy’s lives are connected you can play each story all the way to the end without even starting the other one. This was bit disappointing, but there is surely a reason why it has been done that way. The pieces fall in the place along the journey, and when you think you figured out what’s going on, Broken Age will leave you puzzled by the ending which is one of the best cliff-hangers I’ve seen in a point-and-click titles.
Humour can be found within dialogues, though not as much as we’ve seen in The Monkey Island. For instance, try to decline a cereal in the morning and see what Shay has to say about that one. With twenty different types of cereals, you are sure to find at least one line that will make you laugh. At some point a knife got loose in a space and it actually spoke, which was fun for a moment.
Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure and as such the main focus is on the story, which has been done to the perfection. Meaningful dialogues where we learn more about the game are worth playing. In fact it felt as I would rather watch this story than be a part of it. Like a big-budget animation that keeps you glued to the screen while you are waiting to find out how it will end.
Puzzles, the only gameplay you get in any point-and-click adventure, are simplistic and straightforward in Broken Age. The only part that I hope will be done better in Act 2, as puzzles without challenges leave a game to be less interesting to play. When I think of the Monkey Island and Grim Fandango, and numerous hours I had to tinker on the solutions, the latest title from Tim Schafer lacks that kind of an immersion. To be fair, it was meant to be a small game which grew into something bigger all thanks to the Kickstarter.
Voice acting is great, we have well-known actors and actresses lending their voice to our cute characters. Some were heard only once or twice and hopefully they will return in Act 2. Game’s aesthetics contrast the dark plot behind character’s lives. Both set in a gorgeously designed world and both trying to escape their destiny. Vella travels through colourful villages which made me want to eat sweet food all the time, and Shay visits cute scenes filled with cuddly knitted figurines. Their voices are bit squeaky, though they compensate for that by giving Shay hugs, taking him on a ride and such.
When it comes to point-and-click adventures I am an addict and expected a lot from Tim Schafer and his team. Despite easy puzzles, Broken Age has utterly unique story and that is what matters in this kind of a game. I would recommend broken Age to all p’n’c fans.
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