Broken Age Act 1 Review

As one Steam reviewer puts it: "A spoon in this game has more personality than most AAA game protagonists". Although this is actually a screenshot of the knife which I prefer. Don't judge me!

  • Developer: Double Fine Productions
  • Publisher: Double Fine Productions
  • Release Date: 29 January 2014
  • Time played: 4.5 hours

A few weeks ago we finally saw the release of one of the greatest gaming Kickstarter projects in recent history I'm of course taking about Double Fine Adventure which is now called Broken Age. Unfortunately, we aren't seeing the whole game released yet due to designer Tim Schafer saying they went way over-budget. So as a compromise, the game was split in half and Act 1 is what we currently have, with a concluding act promised for later this year.

Why is this game so important? Because it was a test by Tim Schafer to prove there was still a market out there for oldschool point 'n' click adventures, a genre all but abandoned by major publishers. Broken Age/Double Fine Adventure already proved them wrong raising over $3 million in funding. Now all that's left is to see if those backers (myself included) funded a $3 million lemon or not. As I mentioned in my First Impressions article, the game looked promising and I'm glad to say after completing it that it doesn't disappoint.

Plot (5/5)
Broken Age has you playing the role of not one, but two characters from two seemingly different worlds (a bit like The Longest Journey in that regard). Of course, the whole point of the game is to find out how these two worlds are connected and how are the two characters you play related. One story is the story of a girl named Vella who lives in a fantasy world terrorised by a giant beast called Mog Chothra. Every 14 years Mog Chothra attends a "Maidens Feast" where he feasts on maidens offered by numerous villages (no it's not a feast in honour of the maidens as you would initially think). In return, it's assumed that Mog Chothra will leave the village alone until next year. Vella is one of these maidens but she has other plans.

The other story is about a boy named Shay who is living a Groundhog Day existence on a spaceship where life is monotonous and there is no way he can truly take any risks of make real decisions of his own. In reality it's both feelings that characters share, this sense of futility and lack of free will. Their paths in life seem already written for them but they both believe they're destined for something greater (which is the plot for every fantasy story ever written just about).

Even though the themes may be seemingly cliche, this isn't your usual plot and there's plenty of witty dialogue, amusing quips and memorable characters to keep you entertained.

Gameplay (4/5)
This game is a point 'n' click adventure and (for once) is not ashamed to be it. No pandering to the console market and their weird controllers - this game is made for the mouse, and the mouse only. A point 'n' click adventure wouldn't be complete without puzzles and there are a variety of puzzles to solve in this game which I think strike the right balance of difficulty (i.e. reasonably easy for veterans but logical enough that newbies can eventually figure it out).

One thing I couldn't understand though is why you were allowed to switch characters. It doesn't seem to serve any purpose, at least in this first act, besides merely doing so for the sake of giving you a choice. Maybe when you're bored of playing with one character you want to switch to the other? That's fine and all but what I'm really hoping is perhaps the character switching is used later in the game - at least the Day of the Tentacle fan in me hopes so ;). So far though, it seems pointless.

Ohnoes! How will Shay ever wake up the sleepy Bridge Man?

Sound (5/5)
This game has top quality voice acting including a mix of professional voice actors and screen actors such as Elijah Wood, Wil Wheaton and Jack Black.

Music (5/5)
I find the music in the game to be fantastic but you'd expect no less from Lucasarts veteran composer, Peter McConnell. Not only that but the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performed the music! Makes you proud to be an Aussie doesn't it?

Graphics (5/5)
I love the 2D painted art style. I'm seeing it more and more in the recent resurgence of adventure games and there's something special about this kind of style that can never be replicated using 3D.

Replay (3/5)
I'm actually tempted to play Broken Age again just to experience the hilarious dialogue. Now that I have finished Act 1, replaying Broken Age will help me piece more clues together due to a big part of the mystery being revealed. Unfortunately that's about all I can recommend so far as there are no Steam achievements (these things are almost mandatory nowadays - even though they're not really worth anything tangible) and just like most point 'n' click adventures, there's no branching narrative.

Polish (4/5)
The game is pretty well polished - my only grievance being the inventory being situated in the bottom left corner for some reason. What happens if you want to try move to the bottom left? You can't. It never really becomes necessary to move there admittedly but why not just have a black bar below that opens up when you hover over it? I mean they already do something similar for the top part of the screen.

Score – 9/10

A sensational return to form for Tim Schafer and his Double Fine crew. Broken Age is everything you'd expect from these folks when it comes to adventure games and you could almost believe that the Golden Age of point 'n' click adventures never ended. Almost.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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[LINK: Official Broken Age website]