Game review: Broken Age - deeply characterised, and hilarious

With its unique style, humour, and gameplay puzzles, and hitching of today's technology to classic adventure traditions, Broken Age offers great storytelling

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 May, 2015, 11:30pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 May, 2015, 5:30pm

Broken Age
Double Fine Productions

When Act 1 of Broken Age was released last year for Windows/OS X, older adventure gamers heralded what they hoped would be a new era: the rebirth of classic point-and-click adventures, the ones that had ruled desktops through the 1990s.

Backed by a revolutionary Kickstarter campaign and helmed by creator Tim Schafer (Monkey Island, Grim Fandango), the successful game took the nostalgia-tinged tenets of the largely extinct genre and brought them to the modern gaming generation.

Last month saw not only the release of the long-awaited Act 2 on computers, but the entire game's availability on Sony PS systems and Android devices. The event is to be celebrated for both the completeness we've been given and the real hope this may be the start of everything old being new again.

As with the decades-past PC adventures that keep gamers coming back for more, it all comes down to story, telling two seemingly unrelated tales at once: that of a girl meant to be sacrificed to protect her home from a monster and a boy sailing solo through outer space.

Each seems simple, but both are deeply characterised, often moving and always hilarious. Humour is to be expected given Shafer's track record, but Broken Age is clearly a passion project for the creator, and its coming-of-age themes of fear and loneliness are handled deftly.

That's all backed up by the game's unique style and involving gameplay puzzles. It harnesses the current generation's stunning technology while paying respect to classic adventure traditions, featuring lush animations, dreamy visuals and the kind of surreal panoramas one expects to find in a beloved children's tale.

The puzzles are never intrusive and always completely fluid, each minor combination and conversation with an inanimate object feeling like a natural progression rather than a frustrating requirement to move forward.

Things might get a little complicated as we move between acts, but that's part of the point as the game is really two broken-down parts of one great whole.

That revelation may not completely satisfy gamers rejoining us after nearly two years away, and those dreaming of grand ambitions following that doozy of a first-act cliff-hanger may be disappointed.

But check your hopes at the door and open your mind. Broken Age offers not just great gaming, but also great storytelling in its writing, design and characters.