Broken Age Review
Initial NA Release Date: January 28, 2014 (Act 1), April 28, 2015 (Act 2)
Review Date: October 1, 2016
Reviewed on: PC
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, PC, MAC, Linux, iOS, Android, Ouya
A classic style point-and-click adventure game that tells the story of two complete different people with different lives. Broken Age leaves a bigger imprint with its art style and performances rather than its gameplay.
I’ve never been very good at solving puzzles, and that hasn’t changed with my experience with Broken Age, but the ability to go in-and-out of different stories whenever I got stuck was a refreshing trait to the point-and-click genre.
Shay—a young boy traveling through space with his overprotective computer and Vella—a young girl chosen as a sacrifice for her village who sports a fighting spirit and isn’t afraid of asking the tough questions. The two perfect strangers live out events that unbeknownst to them, are related.
Presentation – Think of Disney’s Frozen only on what is somewhat a 2D world without the snow and songs. Broken Age features a cutesy art style that may seem simplistic but fits the game’s theme. The game primarily functions as a side-scroller however, there are times when given multiple options; going to different rooms within one area or vertical scrolling are just a few examples.
The sound in Broken Age is fairly plain, nothing that really evokes emotion or is a nuisance to listen to but, serves more as elevator music, it’s nothing special but it’s better than not having anything at all. However, what really steals the show when it comes to the game’s presentation are the voice performances given by the great cast of voice actors. Not do only Shay and Vella have their different personalities thoughtfully showcased but, the rest of the supporting cast is full of lively characters and funny quirks.
There isn’t character who resembles the previous or the next and that’s something I really enjoyed while interacting with the supporting cast. While not being spectacular from the general visual or auditory standpoints, Broken Age still carries an endearing nature to that comes forth with its great vocal performance of its cast.
Gameplay – What goes from being a bit too straightforward and simple to abnormally difficult and challenging, the puzzle and or problem-solving in Broken Age is inconsistent. The game doesn’t do much to challenge you during its beginning stages or rather, throughout the entirety of Act 1. Puzzles make sense and aside from regular item investigation, problem-solving never truly gets in your way of progressing. However, in the immediacy of Act 2, the game seems to go in a complete opposite direction, puzzle solving becomes much more thought provoking and presents more of a challenge than what experienced throughout Act 1.
Although not impossible, the main issue with the change of puzzle difficulty is that there was no warning. There are no real problem-solving methods in Act 1 that translate into Act 2, lending you as a player to really become innovative, which is a big component of the point-and-click genre, but not having the exponential growth in difficulty throughout the game, leaves you unprepared for the tougher challenges when they arise. In addition to the spike in difficulty, the other gripe I had with the puzzle-solving was the way both Shay and Vella receive early items that are only used in the much later stages of the game, by having these items so early, going through solutions gets confusing due to not understanding what to do with these items or knowing when they will be a factor.
The narrative in Broken Age is a bit scattered with a few details that are either quickly brushed over or missing entirely but, is still interesting as a whole. The story while fine in its own right, is not the reason the game holds your attention, it’s great cast of characters, and humorous nature is really why you want to stick around to the game’s conclusion.
Final Impression – Attributes that make the core of the puzzle-based adventure game genre fun is when it manages to strike the balance in its problem-solving as well as having fitting characters or theme. Broken Age got one of those criteria right in its great cast but, falls short in its puzzle-solving due to its unwarned spike in difficulty.
Even with its gameplay faults, Broken Age hosts an endearing nature with its cute visuals, excellent vocal performances, and interesting plot that is told from two different perspectives.
+ Funny writing
+ Great vocal performances
– Sudden difficulty spike
Final Score – 7.3/10 Good
Broken Age took me roughly 6 hours to beat, Act 1 taking me 2 ¼ hours and Act 2 took me about 3 ½ hours. I reviewed Broken Age as a whole game even though the releases of Act 1 and Act 2 were more than a year apart. If I had to estimate a score for each act separately, Act 1 would score somewhere around an 8-Great and Act 2 would score somewhere around a 6.5-Okay.