Broken Age is a game with a complicated backstory and development history; it has changed, however modestly, how games are funded and released. But that doesn’t mean much if the game itself is terrible. Fortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s a delightful game that we need more of.
Broken Age (PC, PS4, PS Vita)
This isn’t designed to push the boundaries of graphics technology; it’s actually got a very simple pastels and construction paper artistic style that mostly works because of the relentless eye for detail. It’s the kind of game where you can spot some spoilers in the design if you know where to look, and there are nice visual touches scattered all over.
Similarly, the game’s strength is in the writing. Broken Age gets darker as it goes along, but it balances that darkness with a light-hearted sensibility and by earning it with the theme. It’s very much a game about rites of passage, maturity, and coming together, and it has a great payoff.
This is designed from the ground up as a classic adventure game, so we’re not rocking the boat in that respect. The controls work well and feel nice, although one wishes they’d take cues from some of the newer adventure games on the market; the point and click interface feels a little stodgy at this point.
Where the game shines is in the playing. It’s a classic adventure game; you need to go everywhere, talk to everybody to find out what they have to say, and pick up anything that isn’t nailed down. The puzzles are all reasonably straightforward; generally the solution to the simpler puzzles is an item on a nearby screen, or solved by simply paying attention to the dialogue. There are a few puzzles that you’ll want a pen and paper handy for, and feel a bit trial-and-error in design towards the end, however.
But the writing will keep you playing. Really, what shines about this game is that it manages to combine two seemingly different worlds in a multitude of clever ways, and it’s often very funny, even as the setting becomes surprisingly bleak. It’s got a pleasing sense of late ’70s SF to it, filtered through a storybook, and you’ll want to finish the game just to see how it ends.
Unfortunately, once you play through, you’re done. Bar a few trophies you can try to collect, like beating the game under a pretty strict time limit, there’s not a lot of juice left in this orange once you finish it. But you get a good eight to ten hours of gameplay for your $20, at least.
Blissfully nil. Well, at least if you weren’t one of the original Kickstarter backers. It’s been something of a wild ride. But at least there’s no DLC coming, or pay-to-win hint mechanic.
Broken Age isn’t for everybody; if you’re not a puzzle fan, stay away. But it’s a well-written and reasonably challenging game that moves at its own pace. It’s worth spending the $20 and 10 hours to enjoy it.