Broken Age: Review (PS4/Vita)

May 22, 2015

In With Wow, Out Like Eh…Okay

It has been nearly two decades since Double Fine Productions founder Tim Schafer developed his acclaimed point-and-click adventure “Grim Fandango” — re-released as a remastered edition this year. He returns to the genre with the Kickstarter backed title “Broken Age.”

When “Broken Age” released for the first time last year, it was only out on PC and half of what the game would eventually be. This year it was re-released on PS4, Vita and mobile along with the second half of the adventure. Now that both Acts I and II are available it’s safe to say when experienced as a full game it’s as if the gamer is playing its way through a painted book.

Don’t allow Broken Age’s beautiful aesthetics to play tricks because it’s darkly humorous at its core. That’s all that will be said because this is where it’s going to make its money.  The humourous moments come from  talking utensils and probably the best character in the game, Alex, who is voiced by Alex Rigopulos, CEO of Harmonix Musix Systems. He does a fantastic job of bringing in comedic colors and even makes a sarcastic remark about the game’s music. Its cute exterior lowers the player’s expectations to its hysterical interior. Be prepared…

Broken Age’s Act I cliffhanger is jaw-dropping and Act II reveals everything behind each plot point to mind-blowing satisfaction. Albeit, the story isn’t groundbreaking. But Schafer’s writing and the other voice cast – besides Rigopulos – are so good. Some notable actors involved are Elijah Wood (Shay), Jennifer Hale (Mom), Wil Wheaton (Curtis the Lumberjack) and Jack Black (Harm’ny Lightbeard).

The two characters the player splits time controlling are Vella and Shay. They’re going through what seems initially as individual dilemmas, but how Broken Age is set-up game, and it’s not a spoiler to say this, eventually they will come face to face. How they do is part of the worthwhile adventure it puts the player on.

Choosing Vella (left) or Shay (right) at the start of "Broken Age" doesn't matter because they're both playable throughout the story.

Choosing Vella (left) or Shay (right) at the start of “Broken Age” doesn’t matter because they’re both playable throughout the story.

When playing through Act I with either Vella or Shay, there’s an awe and endearment to the world and the characters in it. It’s inevitable for puzzles to come along with a point-and-click adventure, and they are simple and seamless to the story it’s telling while never taking away from it. Once Act II comes around, not enough new is added to maintain what made Act I special. The puzzles become convoluted and force the player to back track too many times, thus taking away from the story, world, and characters. What would have helped the game immensely is a fast-travel and checklist system to at least ease the downfall it starts to take.

Other than those couple negatives, the one other is when the camera zooms in on certain characters it blurs their model. Otherwise, as said before, Broken Age’s world, writing, and voice cast make it that much more impressive playing, especially since Double Fine worked on a Kickstarter budget.