Finally, the much-awaited adventure game from Double Fine Productions has finally arrived, and it does live up to the promises that Tim Schafer and his crew had put up when they began their Kickstarter campaign. Formerly known as Double Fine Adventure, Broken Age was set out to be the cream of the crop in point-and-click adventure games. We have reviewed plenty of other adventure games here before, but the development of this one has been covered by the gaming press so much that expectations are indeed very high for this one. This is not to be your usual pixel hunting fare.
There has been a lot said about Tim Schafer churning out an adventure game in this day and age, especially since his last one was 1998′s Grim Fandango and this one has Kickstarter money behind it. Here’s something funny about that whole thing about money and big heads in game development.
Broken Age is the result of all that, an adventure game that fans seem to have been waiting for, as evidenced by the Kickstarter and the media coverage. It’s not exactly a genre that has been saturated with frequent releases, unless you count mobile platforms. As with adventure games of this type, the usual elements such as dialogue, puzzle-solving, and various other elements are to be expected. But what Broken Age does differently though is in its degree of refinement that goes beyond what has been seen before in this genre.
The first big thing in this game is the setting itself, which looks picturesque and features very interesting characters in thought-provoking situations. Being a Tim Schafer game, there’s a good bit of humor spread throughout the game, and it’s done very well here indeed. However, it’s coupled with depth of emotion as well during more somber moments. It’s not dark at all that obscures the aforementioned lightheartedness, but still quite moving as the main characters show themselves at their most vulnerable throughout the story. This balance of comedy and drama is what makes for effective storytelling that draws audiences in, and Broken Age has done well in walking that tightrope. This is definitely helped by top notch voice acting
However, this is not interactive fiction at all like with other titles that call themselves “adventure games” in that it does play out as a game that’s both cerebral and well-designed. While puzzles are nigh arbitrary in other games, they fit pretty well here. They could have been made more challenging though, but at least they’re designed well enough though to not seem like merely vehicles for the story. What makes them less challenging than desired is how much they make use of whatever you pick up and put into your inventory, so it does play out like fetching that is prevalent in many adventure games. In turn, solutions aren’t that hard to figure out, and it may take people away from the experience if they’re used to solving hard puzzles.
Without spoiling anything, it must be said that the ending does serve very well in leading to the upcoming sequel, and it should make players want to see more of this new series. It does end rather abruptly just as when things start to get really good though, so you definitely need to play the upcoming second act if you do like this start. While you’re playing this though, you do get to take in the wonderful in-game world that is in itself a character in the story. The story and setting are what makes this game worth the price of admission.
This is an example of a Kickstarter done fairly well. With a lot of campaigns starting to disappoint their backers due to not finishing on time or ending up with an inferior product to what was promised, crowdfunding in game development has slowed down a bit compared to its stride back in 2012 and 2013. There are plenty of other promising Kickstarter projects out there with fans eagerly waiting on them like Mighty No. 9, Star Citizen, Project Eternity, and so on. If they do turn out like how this one turned out, then we are in for some good times.
Perhaps the other adventure game released in recent years that comes closest to Broken Age’s quality is 2012′s Papo & Yo, and both games are great in their own right. Fans of games like the Deponia Trilogy and other adventure titles on mobile platforms should take to this game quite well.
If you really like playing adventure games, then you can get it now. If you are more of the type that gets into a story in its entirety (e.g. you only started going into a Breaking Bad marathon when the series finale aired), then perhaps get it when Act 2 has been released, and maybe get it in a bundle.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10