This is the first graphic adventure by Tim Schafer in 16 years, Broken Age began life as a historic, record-breaking crowdfunding campaign, and the first Act was made available to preview in early 2014.
Now the full adventure is here and I decided to wait until after this point to give the game it’s review so it would be a complete overview of the entire title as a whole.
Broken Age has been quoted as “a timeless coming-of-age story of barfing trees and talking spoons. Vella Tartine and Shay Volta are two teenagers in strangely similar situations, but radically different worlds. The player can freely switch between the characters and their individual stories, helping them take control of their own lives, and dealing with the unexpected adventures that follow.”
As the game begins, You can chose between two main characters who’s lives seem to interlink without them even knowing,
Vella is chosen by her village to have the honor of being sacrificed to the terrible monster Mog-Chothra, but having no interest in being devoured by a horrible beast, she decides to go against ages old tradition and rebel.
Meanwhile somewhere in space, Shay is living a solitary life under the care of a very motherly computer, and while his every need is taken care of in every way imaginable, he wishes for nothing more than to break free from the monotony and have some real adventures.
Based around a simple point and click mechanic this game roots it’s self from the experiences that Schafer brings from his past successful projects, other point and click games such as Grim Fandango and Full Throttle.
As a fan of these titles and other titles like Sam and Max and the new Telltale series, I was very excited for this new Schafer driven title.
Sadly this title felt like it was missing something, like the game was missing some kind of spark. It wasn’t something that completely ruined the game, but I never felt like I couldn’t get invested in the main characters, if I was going to be honest I felt that Vella over shadowed this game and had this been all about her in her own game and it this may have made the experience a better one.
Shay, as a character, felt despondent, now this could have been done on propose like it was a basis of his character traits and that I missed the point completely, but the way this game portrayed him just didn’t make any sense to me what so ever, let me break down my thinking;
If you think about a contained sheltered life, where everything was done for them, the concept that they would actively be wanting or looking for adventure just doesn’t make any sense.
“Why?” you ask,
Well let’s consider how we as humans learn of something, we get shown or taught stuff and through exposure and learning we thrive to better ourselves and to explore, but history proves that before we knew that the world was round we as beings feared adventure ENTIRELY.
Now Shay in this state wouldn’t be actively looking for adventure at all this is mainly because he wouldn’t know what adventure was. It’s never hinted that he is taught it or shown it so how would he know it or want it? In fact the little activities he was given to pass time and entertain him such as the “run away train” other other missions would have been, to him, the heights of excitement and adventure because “MOM” (Shay’s computer and caretaker) didn’t want Shay to be in any kind of danger.
I would have prefer Shay to be more reluctant, disconnected and overwhelmed by any kind of new experiences rather than him just taking it all in his stride as he seemed to do.
As a veteran point and click, puzzle solving gamer I have bested some of the weirdest and most interesting point and clicks out there but this one did get me to a point of almost physically ripping out my hair.
Now I have to be honest to everyone out there I have been victim to those moments of “Aggh I can’t solve it, let’s look online” I mean everyone has at one point.
But I haven’t done this as much as I needed to for the latter part of this game.
Now I will not spoil it for you, but I will warn you, the answers you seek in the later stages of this game are not easy to find, they are not hinted at (that I noticed) and will drive you to walk around every single screen about 40 times, wasting hours of your time, trying to find the answers to a puzzle, that isn’t anywhere obvious.
Please understand I am not saying this is a terrible game it is a good game for the most part and I wouldn’t want to put your off buying it, but, I really struggled with some of the puzzles here and wasted a lot of time to then have to look up the solution and I used to believe I was quite skilled at this due to my background in the area in the end I just ended the game feeling that I hadn’t achieved anything.
Everything in this game is visually pleasing and interesting, Understandably I wouldn’t be surprised if this was where most of the time was spent in the development stage was used up, The hand drawn models, back drops and objects must have taken an age to do, get right and work well.
The Game Play
This was good, game play to me is the most important mark of perfection in gaming, if your don’t have good game play then you have a terrible game. Broken Age has in my opinion good game play, it flows well but there were some times I would have to wait for the screen to move to a certain point before I could click into another screen which meant a times I would have to wait a little longer than I would have wanted to. At times there were also puzzles which required to you fiddle around with a limited click area meaning that a miss click and you would have to wait for an animation to finish before opening to the puzzle again to try again, this made for some really frustrating moments where trial and error seemed to be on only way to solve a puzzle and in-between you would have to wait for the animation to finish every, single, time.
This game is truly fun, the supporting characters and cast are well put together and really interesting however it did feel at times the supporting characters seemed to cast shadows over the main characters. When you get invested in this game it’s these supporting characters that really bring you into this unique world. Some of this game’s jokes / funnier moments were at times too subtle and I would have like some real laugh out loud moments as I have had in Mr. Schafer other titles. Other than Vella my favourite character was her Grandpa Brommel who stole the game for me.