Happy Saturday, dear readers! My apologies for my absence last week, but I really had nothing to write about. I just didn’t play any games last week. This week, though, I had a pleasant surprise in my Steam’s download list: the second part of Broken Age. If you’re ever looking for a game that’s wonderfully weird, a break from the usual, look no further than Tim Schafer and Double Fine.
Broken Age is a point-and-click game with a gorgeous visual style and a quirky nature. Even more important, it has a great story focusing on two teens dealing with their circumstances resulting from a cruel hand dealt by fate. Vella, the daughter of a family of bakers, is faced with complacent society’s willingness to sacrifice her to an angry monster for their own good. Shay, whose family consists of a bossy computer and talking spoon, struggles with a stifling and repetitive environment that refuses to accept that he’s growing up and has a desire for something, anything, new to happen.
When I first played Broken Age, the game still only had one act. Vella was fighting an apathetic system, and Shay was wriggling free of his stale life. It came to a crescendo, and suddenly ended on a dreaded cliff hanger. Oh, episodic gaming, how I hate you. I let it go, let the game float to the bottom of my gaming ocean, and forgot about it. That was last summer, about nine months ago. I tell you all of this because I feel this huge gap in time has affected how I enjoyed the second part of the story. Without getting into spoiler territory, there’s was a lot of “Wait, what was I doing?” while trying to remember what happened and who the other characters were.
Another issue I had was the split between the two acts. Act one set up this grand battle, one girl versus a ravaging monster and one boy opposing all that he’s known. There’s a climactic reveal, and a nasty cliff hanger for anyone who bought it before this week. Act two, though, turns to the foil hat. Conspiracy and betrayal, neither of which were really expected, become the main drive of the storyline. This would be fine, but I feel like the change was too jarring and rushed. There was a lot that could have been done with the setup and new information pouring in with act two, but just didn’t get the attention it needed to make the change successful.
Visually, I’m in love with this game. All of the graphics are hand painted, giving it a unique appearance and style. Each character looks thought out and appropriate for their location. The sceneries definitely help set the tone for each area, be it on the beach or in space. The visual direction for this game is fantastic, and really helps the story be even greater.
I won’t lie. When I first saw Broken Age, I was skeptical. This was before the point-and-click boom on Steam, and I found their playability to be a little dry. My short attention span was always tested with their vague hints or the story hinging on a super tiny clickable object. I still won’t lie, Broken Age still does this, which I wasn’t exactly a fan of. There’s an arduous feeling of having to click back and forth between several different areas just to accomplish a simple task. It’s even worse when you’re lost without much to work with. For goodness’ sake, give me a fast travel map or an easier way to navigate!
I know it sounds like I’m bad mouthing Broken Age, but I’m just being straightforward about some of its flaws. I think if I had played it from start to finish in one go, the Schafer-y story would have worked better for me. I also don’t have the patience for point-and-click shenanigans. I still think people should give this game a chance. It has a lot of positives, such as a wonderful art direction and enjoyable humor, to make up for a couple of negatives.