Broken age is the outcome of Double Fine’s successful Kickstater campaign from three years ago, marking Tim Schafer’s return to point-and-click adventure games. Originally given a partial release last year on the PC in the form of its first act, the game is now complete with both acts available on the PC, PS4, and PS Vita. It’s a throwback to popular adventure games from the past, such as Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and the developer’s own Grim Fandango.
Players assume the role of two different characters, namely Shay and Vella. Shay lives an automated life inside a space vessel that takes him on missions as he travels across planets. Vella, on the other hand, lives with her family in a world that is dictated by religion, where she has a key role to play in the Maiden’s Feast. They may not realize it, but both characters have a world of trouble knocking on their doorsteps. The most fascinating element here is that the parallel stories of both characters, despite being radically different, converge together in a remarkable manner. In the end, this convergence is what drives the underlying theme of Broken Age.
In terms of writing, Tim Schafer’s adventure games are known for being smart, witty, and filled with humor, and it’s great to see that Broken Age lives up to his past work. The storytelling is strengthened by a strong voice cast that includes Elijah Wood, Jennifer Hale, Wil Wheaton, and Jack Black.
Moving on to gameplay, the first thing that strikes as remarkable is the ability to switch between either character on the fly. Should you find yourself struggling to get through a puzzle with one character or should you simply be in need of a quick change of pace, the game’s parallel world design comes in very handy indeed. In some instances, though, the game will require you to switch characters in order to solve certain puzzles that have a connection to the parallel world.
The aforementioned puzzle element is probably the game’s only albeit substantial disappointment. All of the game’s puzzles can be categorized as either having solutions that entail the fulfillment of a series of requirements in a strict sequence, or having solutions that defy all logic whatsoever. The problem with the first category is that you may inadvertently get the sequence wrong or miss a step or two altogether, and even though you’d essentially be on the right track, you wouldn’t get through the puzzle. As for the second category, you’ll often find yourself turning to the internet to figure out puzzles you’ve been trying to solve with sound logic, only to find out that the logic was never there in the first place. Perhaps some of this makes sense in context of the game’s twisted fantasy setting, but it ultimately leads to a lot of frustration.
The audiovisual presentation is fabulous, with a beautiful and distinct art style that brings each of the parallel worlds to life, making them all the more enticing and worthy of exploration. Similarly, the game’s soundtrack presents a fantastic mix of evocative and refreshing themes, setting just the right mood for both worlds.
Broken Age Review (PS4)
All in all, Broken Age is a fun, well-executed adventure game with a gripping storyline and tons of humor, marred only by its cumbersome puzzle design.