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Review

Broken Age Act I Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PC
Jeremy Jayne on Google+

Broken Age Act I Review

Coming of age.

The review below may contain spoilers.

Elsewhere, Shay rises for another mundane day aboard the Bossa Nostra, a spaceship designed to keep him safe and free from harm. The result is a children's-paradise-turned-prison, because Shay can do little else but eat ice cream, play with toys, and receive hugs from his animatronic friends.When Vella wakes from an afternoon slumber outside her village, she knows her short life will soon be at its end. An ancient and powerful monster, Mog Chothra, is coming, and Vella will be offered as a sacrifice of appeasement. This is a high honor, both for Vella and her family.

Vella and Shay costar in Broken Age, a coming-of-age story that finds both heroes struggling to break free of their stations in life. You can switch between these two freely, and help guide Vella and Shay as the innocent worlds of their youth collapse around them to reveal the often harsh realities of adulthood. It's a somber tale, but one that is tempered by the colorful and humorous style that has become developer Double Fine's hallmark.

As a point-and-click adventure game, Broken Age charges you with logic puzzles rather than dexterity challenges. Vella decides, against the warnings of her family, to fight Mog Chothra, while Shay devises a plan to outsmart the overbearing spaceship and take control of it for himself. You accomplish both objectives by talking with others and collecting items--tasks that are punctuated with some great humor that keeps you excited to see what sorts of wacky scenarios the game will throw at you next.

Peace for Vella's village comes at a high price.

Whether you're hopping between head-shrinking teleporters or steering a spaceship by way of scarf knitting, Broken Age isn't afraid to juxtapose its more serious plot points with ridiculous activities. One puzzle finds Vella trying to extract sap from a talking tree. The tree is not forthcoming since it believes Vella is a tree-killing psychopath. Vella decides to own this title by showing the tree a hand-carved stool and describing how the wood was cut up and fashioned into furniture. Disgusted, the tree promptly expels its sappy contents.

Vella's and Shay's worlds may be silly, but they always maintain a consistent logic that helps you work out these problems. Solving a puzzle is never a matter of combining two wildly different things to make a random object unrelated to the task at hand. These puzzles may be silly, but they also make sense.

While this game has you juggling two entirely separate sets of puzzles--one for Vella and one for Shay--the puzzles themselves feel basic and their solutions are straightforward. The complexity of these puzzles does ramp up slowly as you progress further in the game, but it gets cut short when you reach Broken Age's early conclusion. Presumably, since this is only the first half of the full game, the puzzles will continue to grow more complex in the second act, but this remains to be seen.

Whether you're hopping between head-shrinking teleporters or steering a spaceship by way of scarf knitting, Broken Age isn't afraid to juxtapose its more serious plot points with ridiculous activities.

If Shay doesn't hurry, his yarn-spun friends will be trapped forever in this ice cream tomb.

When you're not worrying about brainteasers, Broken Age's vibrant world is a delight to explore. The bright, pastel coloring and soft lighting lend the game's backdrops a storybook aesthetic that complements the game's humorous writing while also contrasting with--and emphasizing--its darker plot. At times, you feel as if you're dashing through the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. Some fantastic voice work further enhances this experience, with a couple of great performances by characters seen only once or twice in the game. Hopefully, these characters will make a return in the second act.

Broken Age's world may be fun to explore, but don't get too comfortable. Just as you fall into a steady groove with its story and puzzles, the game ends. Thankfully, the ending provides some resolution while also leaving you excited for the second act. While this game functions as a stand-alone release, it's not designed to be one. This opening act has set the stage for an engrossing tale of childhood's end--let's just hope the payoff is as fulfilling.

The Good
Terrific voice acting
Beautiful fairy-tale world
Humorous writing.
The Bad
Puzzle solutions aren't very complex
Stops just as it hits its stride.
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Maxwell was enchanted by the whimsical and tragic world of Broken Age. He can't wait to see how it all pays off in the second act of this modern-day fairy tale.

Discussion

93 comments
renerak
renerak

Gamespot needs more real PC gamers.

nicecall
nicecall

im tempted to try this game, i pretty much do the opposite of gamespot reviews, if a game is bad, its good.  if its good its bad.  so if they give it a 7 it must be 8 or 9... i'd actually be more suspicious if they gave it a high score since this site is trash now

hitomo
hitomo

get 3 Million from Kickstarter and spend 10.000 for making a game with flashanimations = total win

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

Just finsihed playing Part 1 and a 7 for this game is nothing short of criminal. The writting is nothing short of amazing. All in all the best adventure game I have played in a long time. Not sure why I even both coming to Gamespot anymore. I cant remember the last time I have seen a score I realy agreed with. 

Klikandclick
Klikandclick

seeing an adventure game do well in the modern video game industry makes me quite happy

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

I plan on waiting for part 2 to hit and play it all at once.

azcaz16
azcaz16

Trust bloody gamespot to give it the lowest score of any review out there. 

xcollector
xcollector

I don't know how this game got a 7. If it got a 7 because it was only half a game, we all knew that going in. And it also has one amazing cliff hanger. This will become a classic just like most other Schafer games.

prats93
prats93

Tim Schafer showing everyone how its done. Now this is an adventure game, witty, charming and full of character. None of this Walking Dead shit with its constant dialogue options, piss poor puzzle solving elements and stupid QTE's. Telltale should take notes.

focuspuller
focuspuller

That review was a bit strange, manic, and rushed. Considering how straight-forward the game is, I don't know why your review was so hard to understand. It was like you were trying to explain Watergate in less than 5 minutes. Did you drink to much Rockstar or Redbull, perhaps trying to compensate for all the dope you were smoking earlier in the day?


Anyway, it's a great game (first half of one). I would have like the puzzles to be slightly harder, but everything else about the game more then makes up for it. Elijah Wood as Shay is great, but the entire cast is really good. Beautiful art and great music.


Deserves at least an 8 or 9.


2014 could be the year of Kickstarter games, and the year of PC games, and maybe, just maybe, the year of adventure games.

kambion313
kambion313

A 7? Can you say FFFFFFFeeedbackula?

Jasurim
Jasurim

Looks interesting, think I'll wait for the second one to come out before I start it up though.

naz99
naz99

Had a lot of fun and it really does have that adventure game charm which Tim Schafer seems to pull of so well,also the ending was really well done and left it in what feels like a comfortable place for the second half....I'm excited to see what's coming

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

This game should not have been episodic.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Anyone know roughly how long this first half of the game takes?  Is it comparable to something like The Banner Saga?  It's the same price at least, but it sounds like it's quite short from what I've read about it so far.  I'm not one to place an absolute value based on length alone, but I'm curious.

jflkdjs
jflkdjs

I love Double Fine, and I'm loving this game. So when is the full game coming out?

crazywolf5150
crazywolf5150

This game didn't look all that great to me anyway. I'd rather play games like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend than this. I probably would have given it the same or similar score.

voljin1987
voljin1987

It went from eightspot to sevenspot


hunterbarnett
hunterbarnett

Seems interesting.  I tend to enjoy Doublefine's games.

pozium
pozium

Interesting................ign gave it a 9+. Different views, I guess


I wonder why it has a 7, with all the praises from the reviewer

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

I usually wait for these episodic games until all the parts are released. That's what I did for Walking Dead.

riotinto876
riotinto876

Stating as a bad thing in the game the fact that it ends before the story is finished, even though it's a 2 part game left me speechless really, I don't even know how this got approved.

groowagon
groowagon

@RighteousNixon i like that GS gives no mercy in their reviews, but i'm totally ignoring this one. I'm getting Broken Age for sure. point-and-clicks of this magnitude simply don't exist besides this.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

@prats93 Apples and oranges.

Double fine are focussing on the puzzle and humour aspect. Telltale focus on the characterisation and story aspect.

nutcrackr
nutcrackr

@SipahSalar Two parts, not really episodic. They ran out of money so selling half to make the rest. 

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@SipahSalar Tell that to their financial planner, I think a lack of money (or a lack or managing said money) is the only reason it isn't ALL completed right now.

unaminous
unaminous

@nl_skipper I believe I heard someone say around 3.5 hours, but don't quote me on that.


Or do, I don't care.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@pozium  From the couple reviews I've read, it sounds VERY easy and simple, so it's more of a guided story than it seems to have actual gameplay that requires any thought.  That sounds like a fair enough reason for a 7, that's still a good score afterall, just sounds like a very simple game.

Cillerboy
Cillerboy

@pozium Gamespot usually gives a lower score than IGN. Maybe it's because IGN give 8s, 9s and 10s a lot, or because GS is extremely reluctant to give more than a 7.

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@GSGuy321 Me too but the artistic design of this game has me wanting it soon... maybe I'll wait for a sale in a few months because I don't think I'll have the patience to wait for it to be completed.

Dragon_Nexus
Dragon_Nexus

@riotinto876 A two part game game be disappointing to see end after part one. It can also be clumsily stopped.

If you've ever played Dead Space 2, the transition from disk 1 to disk 2 is kinda jarring. Happens out of no-where. Imagine waiting a few months after finishing disk 1 before being allowed to finish disk 2.

Point is, knowing they had to split the game it might have been nicer to have a more organic end to the first part.

downloadthefile
downloadthefile

@riotinto876 this is a review of part 1.  the same criticism could be made (And was made) about The Hobbit film, for example.  If both parts released at the same time and weren't split then it would make more sense to take issue with the criticism.

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

@groowagon @RighteousNixon I just wanted to expand on what I was saying in regards to scoring. Its clear by the end of this review that points were deducted because the game was released in an episodic format, instead of being a complete game. Episodic content has basically become the standard format for adventure games these days. Telltale Games was really one of the first to release adventure games in the manner and it has really taken off in popularity since the days of Sam and Max. The Walking Dead was released in episodes and it won over 50 Game of the Year awards from various sites and publications. So deducting points due to the fact that the game was released using this format....well, its nothing short of laughable. 


The scoring should be based on the game, not the way it is deleivered. If this reviewer cant come to terms with the fact that advenutre games these days are released in this format then he should stop reviewing these kinds of games altoegther. People want to know about the game, not his opinion on episodic content. This is ultimately a perfect example of the kinds of problems you find with a lot of Gamespot reviews these days. 

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

@groowagon @RighteousNixon Showing no mercy is just fine, as long as your actually taking points away for legitmate issues. Unfortunately, the VAST majority of reviews I see coming out of Gamestop these days are absolutely horrid in regards to scoring. Their reviews are, on average, like 1-2 points below the average player reviews or the average metacritic scores. .....That is a clear sign that something is really off. Such deviations are to be expected from time to time, but when you see it happen as often as you do on Gamestop....well, again, its a clear sign that something is very off in regards to the people reviewing these games. 


Again, I cant remember the last time I have seen a score from Gamestop that I really agreed with. They need new reviewers in a big bad way. 

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

@Dragon_Nexus @xcollector What could be? Adventure Games released in chapters or episodes are a normal part of the industry now. Deducting points for a game because its its released in such a manner is nothing short of BS. 

RighteousNixon
RighteousNixon

@Dragon_Nexus @prats93 Problem is, even the best of stories are marred by crappy gameplay mechanics and poor game design. The fact that the Walking Dead won game of the year awards from like 50 something sites and publications, when it had such horrid gameplay mechanics....well, it basically tells developers that its ok to have crappy gameplay as long as you have a good story. Its no wonder gaming in general gets so little respect. 

Xatsuna
Xatsuna

@nl_skipper@SipahSalarNot lack of money. Its a strategy. Just look Telltale games. Episodic Walking Dead games. They received 3,7 million dollars USD from kickstarter + other donations from paypal. Its not lack of money dude. They just chose to release episodic games like Telltale Walking Dead games.


Right now I feel so sorry for the people that backed this game on kickstarter. I hope it was worth it for them.

pip3dream
pip3dream

@RighteousNixon @groowagon  I disagree with you sir, I do say! :)  Just because a game is episodic doesn't mean that the episode should end abruptly without ANY closure.  It should be like a tv show, have a local story arc for the length of the show, but of course have a major story arc that ends in a cliff hanger properly.  

LE5LO
LE5LO

@RighteousNixon  Had it have been longer and complete I'd say it would've got a higher score. For now though it seems fair, considering Maxwell's point of: 'Stops just as it hits its stride.' 


Looks amazing though, the art/animation direction is like nothing I've ever seen in a point and click game. I'll definitely buy it when the whole thing is finished and do a play through in one shot, to keep it fresher in my mind.


I'd like to see more of these games, with a focus on characters, world, story, etc. I think this industry has seen enough generic FPS's and sports games to last us all a lifetime now!


Here's hoping they knock part 2 out of the park!

focuspuller
focuspuller

@nix3r  If you actually were a backer, you would have, while waiting for the game to come out in the past two years, had access to the documentary (now up to 13 parts, not counting in-between episodes they are calling "side-quests") which details the making of the game from the time of the start of the Kickstarter, to the creating the story from scratch, to casting, to soundtrack writing and recording, to all aspects of production, including funding issues and even conflicts with artists.


So yeah, if you were a backer, you would have known all the production details up to present, so I'm going to call bullshit on that one.

nix3r
nix3r

@focuspuller @Xatsuna @naz99 Speak for yourself. I complained and received a paypal refund to the value of my kickstarter donation. Although I guess that would make me an ex-backer now. Very glad I did after finding out they spent all of their kickstarter funding and had to go after more money, and still the game is only 3 hours long!! WTF

naz99
naz99

@Xatsuna You feel sorry for people that got a great game to play,and still get to look forward to more?


Ok I'm sorry you feel sorry for us ;)

focuspuller
focuspuller

@Xatsuna No need to feel sorry for us. We are extremely happy. The first part of the game was actually released early, the entire game was supposed to be released in April. This helps pay for the rest on the game that is still coming out in less then 4 months. And we get to enjoy what we paid for, a great game.

Broken Age More Info

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  • First Released
    • iPhone/iPod
    • Macintosh
    • + 3 more
    • Ouya
    • PC
    • Unix/Linux
    Broken Age is an old-school point-and-click adventure game.
    7.4
    Average User RatingOut of 77 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Broken Age
    Developed by:
    Double Fine Productions
    Published by:
    Double Fine Productions, Inc., Double Fine Productions
    Genres:
    Adventure, Third-Person, 3D