Some of the first games I played were of the point-and-click adventure variety. As I found out about different kinds and, to a kid, more exciting games I forgot all about the genre and its joys. I forgot about the genre until Double Fine announced it would be collecting funds on Kickstarter to create Broken Age, an adventure game meant to bring back point-and-click to the masses. After several delays and some funding problems we finally have the first half of the game in our hands accomplishing what it set out to do.
Broken Age follows two separate stories of Vella, a girl from the town of Sugar Bunting, soon to be offered up as a sacrifice to the evil monster Mog Chothra who terrorizes her world. Then there is Shay, a boy aboard a spaceship with an overprotective AI program called Mother. His life is boring routine until he meets a stowaway on board who shows him some real adventure, but doesn’t reveal his full intentions either.
The story unfolds in a great coming of age tale, storybook for adolescents. That’s not to imply it’s purely for the young. There is plenty adult humor and situations in the story, along with the usual cheeky Double Fine sense of humor. The voice acting keeps you engaged, especially when you get to hear the voice of Elijah Wood providing Shay’s adolescent voice and Jack Black does a good job at playing a hokey, laid back prophet. The story is incredibly charming its themes and its cliff-hanger ending will keep you invested to find out what happens in Act II.
Pastel coloring provides Broken Age with vibrant colors and two highly detailed worlds that are worth exploring. Shay’s spaceship is filled with bright neon lighting and enough color to feel as if you’re on the ship. Even the absurdly childish rooms of Shay’s past, are loaded with red, greens and blue paddings.
Vella’s own world is even brighter. As you visit the three different towns she needs to explore each exudes its own style depending on its name. Vella’s home town of Sugarbundting has houses shaped like cakes and other baked treats, while Shellmound’s homes are constructed like sandcastles and covered in shells. The visuals are simply gorgeous all around, making the world you’re immersed in worth exploring.
Interacting with the Broken Age world is done through simple point and click functions. Nothing new or different. You point at something to investigate it or to pick an item up which is promptly put into an off-screen inventory. Also, in the spirit of old point-and-click games not every item or area explored is essential to The puzzle solving is a little more streamlined than most point and clicks, but it makes puzzle solving a little less challenging making for less headache. That doesn’t mean solving them is incredibly easy either. When the answer comes together and makes sense you will still receive the satisfaction of solving a difficult, but fair puzzle.
There are a few small dings to this otherwise solid piece of work. Dialogue is as funny as ever, though your choices in talking can get repetitive and sometimes you’ll have to deal with the same conversation block to get more answers from NPCs. This was the one section that could have used some streamlining so I wouldn’t have to deal with repeated lines of dialogue.
Broken Age Overall
Broken Age may not be the most innovative adventure game, but after what feels like decades it’s nice to have a solid point-and-click adventure game can still be made in a new generation of games. The story is effective and entertaining, and the world comes to life with its pastel coloring. While the streamlined puzzles make the difficulty level a little too easy at times, they are challenging enough to give some satisfaction when you solve them. Waiting for Act II is going to be stressful, but thankfully players will only have to wait until April to find out Broken Age’s conclusion.