Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure game developed by Double Fine Productions and directed by Tim Schafer. Released in two parts in 2014 and 2015, it tells the stories of teenagers Vella and Shay who live in worlds restricted by their overseers.
The art style of Broken Age is absolutely gorgeous, featuring hand-painted environments and highly detailed character designs. The game world feels vibrant, imaginative, and full of character. Exploring the various locations and talking to the quirky NPCs is a real joy thanks to the fantastic art direction.
One of the standout qualities of Broken Age is the depth and dimension given to its main characters, Vella and Shay. At first glance they seem to embody typical archetypes – Vella is the spunky, rebellious teen girl and Shay is the shy, timid boy. But throughout the game, we learn so much more about their motivations, fears, and courage.
Vella in particular goes through a surprising character arc as she decides to fight against all odds to break the vicious cycle her town is trapped in. Her bravery and determination in the face of a powerful and deadly force is remarkable. And Shay’s story tackles challenging themes of rebelling against overprotective parents trying to control his life. Both characters are forced to grow and change in moving ways.
The supporting characters are also memorable in their personalities and humor. Cloudgazer the Lumberjack has some of the funniest lines in the game, delivered wonderfully by actor Justin Roiland. The various creatures and spirits Vella encounters are full of charm and wit. Mog Chothra immediately stands out as a highlight.
The voice acting is also top-notch, with Elijah Wood voicing the character of Shay. The rest of the cast also delivers emotional and humorous performances that breathe life into the script. The soundtrack by Peter McConnell is equally impressive, enhancing the atmosphere during important story moments.
The puzzles are integrated very cleverly into the story and environments as well. Solving puzzles like repairing the bassinets feels like you’re accomplishing something meaningful, not just checking off random game design requirements. Each puzzle ties into the narrative or explores the personalities of the characters in amusing ways.
As for the gameplay, Broken Age features classic point-and-click puzzles that feel logically designed and rewarding to solve. Most puzzles allow for experimentation, with few instances of illogical leaps required. Inventory items can be combined together in intuitive ways, and talking to characters always provides helpful clues if you ever get stuck. There’s a nice learning curve as the puzzles increase in complexity over time.
The story itself is fantastically written, juggling humor, mystery and surprisingly dark themes. Vella and Shay’s worlds contrast in fascinating ways as the protagonist’s journey to break free from overprotective parental figures. The writing fleshes out side characters motivations and backstories, with some unexpected twists and turns throughout.
However, Broken Age was clearly designed with the intent to be one complete game instead of two separate acts. The first part resolves very little of the core mystery and ends abruptly, leaving players unsatisfied. Being forced to wait a year for Part 2 to see story resolutions was frustrating for many.
The game is also on the short side, with most players able to complete each part within 2-4 hours. More gameplay sequences and puzzle rooms could have enhanced the overall experience. Load times between transitions occasionally disrupt the pace as well.
However, there are some great set pieces and memorable sequences throughout Broken Age too. Flying through the clouds on a giant condor, participating in Shay’s delightfully goofy pretend adventures, and Vella’s cross-country trek sticking forks into pies all standout. These moments are brought to life through gorgeous visuals and animation.
In conclusion, Broken Age is a beautifully written and designed point-and-click adventure that revives the charm and wit of classic LucasArts adventures. The puzzle design is intelligent, the voice acting pitch-perfect, and the story full of surprises. However, the segmented release affected story flow and more content would have been welcomed. Broken Age exceeds expectations for storytelling and character development in an adventure game while featuring many memorably funny and charming moments. The brevity may disappoint some, but the quality of the time spent in its imaginative world makes it a delightful experience overall.