Broken Age shares a journey of two young individuals that are both going through troubling predicaments. Both stories are separate in how they play out, but hold very similar tones. Both characters are in a situation in their lives in which they want to break free from the norm.
The Maidens Feast is a long-standing celebratory event that occurs every fourteen years. The ceremony is a very involved process, in which maidens of the villages go through numerous tests and challenges so that the people can select a few of the most distinguished maidens to represent their village. The maidens are then offered up to Mog Chothra, who is an enormous creature who visits the villages every fourteen years to eat the maidens. They are given as an offering, in order to keep Mog Chothra from destroying the entire villages. Each village holds their own Maidens Feast and while we would think that they would be absolutely mortified about their destiny, each maiden is surprisingly thrilled to hold the honor of being chosen to represent their village.
Velouria, who goes by Vella, one of Sugar Bunting’s chosen maidens, shared her disagreement in the ceremony with her parents and fellow maidens, questioning why they don’t fight Mog Chothra instead. While this only seems logical, her dissidence was only greeted with cynical responses, since this way of fending off this creature was all they knew. The idea is to subdue themselves as a noble burden to save the village and go down as a hero, in this quite twisted way of thinking. While the ritual sounds absolutely preposterous, the other townsfolk do not see the absurdity of this ceremony and refuse to break free from tradition.
The other main story that is playing out on the other end of the spectrum, is that of Shay Voltra. Shay is the sole passenger of the ship Bassa Nostra whose life seems to be set on an autopilot feature, just like the ship. Every new day is much like the one before, in which he is greeted by father and mother-like figures that tend to him. Everyday, Shay gets to choose out of the same missions, which are computer-simulated games that just seem to keep him busy. He is a young adult who is catered to as a child and even has baby toys and a mobile that hangs above him. His friends were knitted for him, there is a vacuum that cleans up spilled cereal, and he is fed and his teeth are brushed for him. Shay’s story was very mundane and repetitive and seemed to drag along. It created the feel of what Shay truly experiences as he goes through the cycle of his daily routines. And just like Vella, Shay wants a change.
It is interesting to see how the stories are so different, but yet very similar. The stories seem to hold a meaning much deeper than what they appear to be. They seem to be metaphors that can relate to anyone’s current situation and offer inspiration to make a change, no matter how how outlandish it may seem. It is refreshing to find a gem that can offer encouragement and can be viewed in a much deeper scale.
The aesthetics of Broken Age are quite charming. They offer up a warm and welcoming look into very deep storylines. The art is what one can expect to see in a children’s book, in essence of simplicity. The aesthetics take a very artistic approach in engrossing the player and suits the storylines very well and gives life to the 2D characters and their elements. The colors welcome the player into the shoes of the characters and the environments are charming.
Broken Age is a point and click adventure game. The player controls the characters using very simple button mechanics to click where he/she wants the character to go.
Interaction with other characters in the game plays a huge role in the story development. To progress in the game, it is important to speak to every character, sometimes more than once, or twice. The environment also offers up areas of exploration. To speak to the other characters, the player is greeted with sets of speech options, to dive deeper into the story’s dialect. The characters all have their own charm and hold importance in the game’s story. Items can be found, or given to the player by other characters, that can assist in the protagonists’ missions.
The entirety of the game is a big puzzle. Finding out what to do with the objects on-hand is the main objective of the game. Shay and Vella can combine items to utilize an object in a different way. While it was fun and rewarding to solve these puzzles, some were just excruciating and seemed impossible. Since a handful were quite challenging, this can lead to some major frustration. It is great to have some really tough puzzles because it is extremely rewarding once they are solved. However, it may steer some players away from completing the game and the story is one that is worth the effort. It would have been great to see a help option once the player is in a rut. The team could’ve only allowed this option to be utilized once the same scenario had been attempted a certain number of times. This way, the game could appeal to a broader audience, including a player of any age. With the encouraging storyline, it would be great to have a younger audience experience the fun and learn from the moral of the story.
There is a lot of exploration that would have become a little mundane. However, it is quite useful to utilize the fast track by double clicking the X button. Skipping cutscenes that have already been explored is also a great way to keep exploring and keeps it from feeling repetitive. There are almost no load times in doing so and is a very smooth transition.
The music definitely plays a huge part in setting the mood for the environment and every aspect of the game. Soft piano and soothing tunes compliment both Shay and Vella’s journeys. The music for Broken Age was composed by Peter McConnell. McConnell has worked with Double Fine with scores for Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, and Costume Quest. He is also known for his work in many other notable franchises, including Sly Cooper and Indiana Jones.
Much of the voices are also by noted actors, including Jack Black, Elijah Wood, Whil Weaton, Jennifer Hale, Masasa Moyo, and David Kaufman – to name a few. This explains where a lot of the Kickstarter funds were allotted.
While it’s exciting to see what this large cast of noted actors and actresses brings the table, it was disappointing to hear the lack of voice range from Elijah Wood. Lending his voice to the main character, Shay, it would be imagined to be memorable, however it lacked in feeling. Sure he did a good job when Shay was miserable with his dull life, but when it’s time to turn it around, there was a lack of voice ranges for Shay. The most notable voices had to be Vella’s, who was voiced by Masasa Moyo, and Harm’ny Lightbeard, voiced by Jack Black. Wil Wheaton also did a good job voicing a very interesting lumberjack in the woods.
While Broken Age offers up plenty of Trophies to go hunting for, there is really no other reason to revisit the game. However, for those who own a PlayStation Vita, the game is a Cross Buy title. So, the point and click action can be taken anywhere, on-the-go. Other than that, there is really no need for fillers just to offer lasting appeal. The game promises to fulfill the asking price and includes both Acts 1 and 2 for both characters.
From the beginning of Broken Age’s journey to becoming a full-fledged game, Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine went against the grain of what we are used to in game development. From the funding of the game through its highly successful Kickstarter, to the gameplay and the story, Broken Age is one that has been unique from the start.
The two storylines of two very different characters, from two different worlds, prove the importance of change. While they were encountered with very differing situations, their lives were running parallel. The plot twists and comedic tones give life to the characters.
Broken Age is full of attitude. The parallel storylines, the aesthetics, and the music bundled with the humor gives the game its personality and is definitely a game that is highly recommended.
- The deep storyline of the game is definitely one that will lure the players in and have them hooked.
- Cross Buy and Cross Save for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita- that’s always a win-win.
- The aesthetics are unique with gorgeous character designs and beautiful color tones.
- Some of the puzzles are quite challenging, which could become extremely frustrating.
- The story’s ending does not have the impact that lives up the story’s build-up.