(This is a tentative review critiquing an ongoing series. As such, this review will contain no final score on the game as a whole, but an individual summary that is solely based on the experience of the episode. This game’s overall critique is subject to change in other episode reviews.)
(This review of Broken Age: Act I is spoiler free.)
Broken Age is the latest brainchild of Tim Schafer and his development studio Double Fine. As well as being the most recent point-and-click adventure by Tim Schafer since Grim Fandango in 1998, Broken Age is also the game that gained acclaim as being the project that illustrated the power of Kickstarter and lead to its increased effect on the video game industry. But, fame aside, I’m here to focus on the product itself, the result of popular support and a longstanding vision that is Broke Age: Act I and I must say, it’s a great start.
The story Broken Age so far is, simply put, fantastic. A majority of its genius lies, in heavy part, to the subtle humor seen through the lens of the two main characters: Shay and Vella. I found myself chuckling as well as outright erupting with laughter through each little obstacle and interaction as I discovered the quirkiness of the cast and the universe. Each character pops with an abundance of creativity and comicality, which is even more impressive considering the dystopian themes presented, such as ritual sacrifice, isolation, and deception to name a few. But the humor is still there, coupled along with some surprising twists and an immense shock at the end of Act I.
Along the lines of aesthetics, it must be mentioned that the art of Broken Age is breathtaking. The lighthearted style, character designs, landscape design — each screen is a visual delight that shouts tenderness and tenacity. Little details in the background and foreground show the level of care put into each segment and into each character.
In terms of actual gameplay, it’s a classic point and click done right, from everything to the puzzles to even the old-fashioned pixel cross cursor featured in previous point-and-clicks like Monkey Island, Indiana Jones, and I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream. The puzzles are challenging if a bit vague, but that’s mostly due to formula that the genre follows. In an era of games that focus on non-stop action and innovation, it’s nice to see that the classics can still inspire a successful and fulfilling gameplay experience.
Broken Age: Act I delivers a strong opening to what promises to be a thrilling yet hilarious adventure. The juxtaposition of the two characters’ stories and their interactions with the quirky cast are captivating. Although the game is a simple point-and-click adventure, there are a few fast-paced moments that’ll have you clicking frantically for the solution. I wholly recommend this game, as its beginnings have illustrated a strong and enjoyable experience that will run throughout the game’s course.
Written and Edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review