Broken Age is a point and click adventure game for the modern generation. Point and click adventures have, for the most part, been phased out of gaming except in that small part of the PC world. I don’t even have much to compare it with except for say Monkey Island or Blazing Dragons and that feels rather unfair. Many point and click games now and days needs help from the greater community, like a recent game I reviewed named Stray Cat Crossing. Double Fine has a wide audience already though, something they earned with Psychonauts but have yet to bring back. Since point and clicks lack any action they mostly require two things, humor and intriguing puzzles. My first thought was to say intelligent puzzles but then I remember The Curse of Monkey Island and how all intelligent thought went straight out the window. This game has already been highly praised, paying for part 1 with Kickstarter money they made more than enough to bank roll part 2. Luckily the version free on the PSN this month is the complete story so we won’t have to go out and buy the missing part.
Are the puzzles intriguing? Well that make a lot more sense than most point and click games I remember. If I had to put it on the spectrum and could easily say it is the opposite of any Monkey Island game. The puzzles in part 1 were very straight forward and maybe a little too easy on Vella’s side. I wouldn’t say they were hard on Shay’s side but it was a little confusing how things went together. Some of the puzzles in part 2 however were aggravating. I can only assume they wanted to make the meaning deeper by making it so the main characters would need each other to solve certain puzzles. These clues are so minuscule in some cases though it would almost be easier to guess from what is already know. One puzzle that was rather obnoxious has you undo a knot. Okay, that seems straight forward but you have to describe the knot in the most insane ways. That wasn’t even the annoying part to me since it was easy to figure it out, the problem was that when you describe the knot to the expert you have little to no idea if it is the right knot and you may get the wrong solution. This took a couple of tries since all the knots looked the same to me; except for the one that looked like her oddly enough. Besides some rewiring puzzles it was all straight forward though.
Is the game funny? I had some laughs here and there but nothing compared to Monkey Island or Blazing Dragons. It was like the game wanted to be ironic or something, yes there was humor but they wanted to switch back to the serious parts so much it’s difficult not to get hung up. I found part one funnier because the stories were still separate and everyone wasn’t doomed all the time. Pert 2 wasn’t all that funny though because everyone was freaking out, Shay’s side had some humor to it but nothing to write home about. Nearly every character in this game wants to be so serious or cynical all the time that even if they say something funny it doesn’t amount to much. In comedy you can’t just have a straight man on stage; you also have to have someone to be funny. Again, the game does have its moments. The girls losing their clothes as they fall through the cloud and Dutch the knife being prime examples but they are spread too thin.
The game has a very unique appearance but it works very well. Each character has their own unique look and each area has its own appearance to make things interesting. The only problem is that the game feels kind of small when you get to it all. I suppose with a point and click you can’t have things too big or some people would go into a room and just start clicking on everything. The ship stage itself is only really two or three separate areas when you think about; many of the other rooms become almost entirely meaningless after using them once or twice. It seems that a two part game would have a more diverse series of areas to go through. Hell, The Curse of Monkey Island had multiple islands and most of them were almost twice the size of this entire game. It looks great though, kind of a different artsy feeling that seems to be dominated by indie games these days. What I found most stunning was how each area and character was completely different from the last. No two objects really look alike unless they are supposed to. It kind of felt like a Zelda game though with water area, forest area, sky area… and sugar? In a generation where characters and levels are cookie cut from the exact same cloth every single time it is nice to see some creativity for a change.
The story is the most interesting part of the game though and has you switch back and forth between two very different characters in two very different areas; until the characters switch places anyways. The story takes a couple of twist here and there that even I didn’t predict but I knew something would happen. My only gripe on the story is that it hinges almost entirely on the power of teenage horniness. I wish I was exaggerating but I’m not. You don’t find out until later and I won’t spoil anything but it turns out the main reason for the spaceship and the kidnappings is because teenage boys can use the power of boners to detect the most impure maidens; I assume because those would be the easiest ones to talk into doing anything. For a story that goes back and forth so much it is rather solid and doesn’t leave many holes. The only problem is that you need to listen to a lot of the dialogue in order to learn the entire story and this can take some time. Without the story the games takes a little under two hours, with dialogue however it took nearly eight hours to get through everything. It is kind of the retold heroine overcomes all story and Shay kind of feels secondary really. Then in the end it is not entirely clear what happens to them but as the game pointed out multiple times, his boner seemed the most attracted to her after all.
All in all it is a great game and should be part of everyone’s collection. It is a puzzle game but it is still easily playable for everyone and doesn’t move so fast where it is hard for those who can’t think very quickly. It is definitely the shining gem of this month’s freebies. It looks great, it plays great and it’s easy to just pick up and play. Some people may find certain parts challenging but that will happen. Frankly, it is nice to see Double Fine making great games again, they kind of fell into a slump I think and it raised multiple red flags when they started doing connect games. All in all it is a great game and everyone should try it free or not.