|System: PS4*, PC|
|Dev: Double Fine|
|Pub: Double Fine|
|Release: April 28, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language|
And there’s so much backtracking! Ninety percent of the game is gathering items from one location and then traveling the map to go to another and see if you can use them, back and forth and back and forth until you have brute forced the solution. This isn’t just puzzle solving incompetency, it’s built into the design. Many times the items you need to solve a particular puzzle are on opposite ends of the explorable world, and walking back and forth through these environments you have already seen gets boring quick.
On the upside, the story is still very interesting. The prospect of figuring out what the heck is going on, why Shay is on a monster/spaceship, why Vella’s culture kept “feeding” people to the monster Mog Chothra, and more, keeps you playing even when the game gets frustrating. A couple story elements were wrapped up in a particularly sloppy manner, but overall I have to say I was satisfied with where the plot went. It’s a bit more interesting in the beginning of the game than at the end, as you run into a couple sudden twists that fall flat and end up being forgettable, but it pushed me toward the end nonetheless.
The graphics also complement the game well. The storybook feel that the game gives you is perfect for the sort of tale it weaves. The new areas and characters you do meet are rather well drawn, and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of them.
The voice acting is also top notch, and is probably where the game shines the brightest. The star studded cast does a phenomenal job, and even though certain characters aren’t exactly believable, they are fun caricatures whose personalities alleviate the slog of having to talk to them over and over as you backtrack and try to puzzle solve.
Double Fine did try to address some of the problems fans had with Act 1. Act 2 is almost twice as long as Act 1, and fans did complain about its short length, but unfortunately a lot of this length comes across as padding. Fans complained that the two stories seems very separate in Act 1, so Act 2 intertwines them, but doesn’t make it obvious. Fans complained that Act 1’s puzzles were too simple, and so Act 2’s puzzle are now so difficult you have to brute force them. I give them credit for trying, but now everything has swung too far in the opposite direction.
It’s sad really, because Broken Age was a phenomenal premise. Heck, I admit I had fun and ended Act 2 with a smile, but thinking back on the experience as a whole, its flaws are obvious. I’d recommend playing Act 2 if you already picked up Act 1, but go into it with the knowledge that there will be issues that might frustrate you.
It’s important that Broken Age was made, and it’s important that it got so much money from Kickstarter. Arguably, it single-handedly changed the face of indie game funding. To the same end, I’d say it’s important to finish Broken Age and see where all that money went. It stands as a fantastic example of both the goods and bads of Kickstarter. It’s obvious how Double Fine attempted to give their audience what they said they wanted, even though that’s not what they actually wanted. It’s obvious that the studio had to rush the first part of the game out last year, and how both acts were really meant to be one game. It’s obvious where corners had to be cut and assets had to be reused. But even though all of these flaws it’s still an interesting and enjoyable game with a weird sci-fi meets Cthulhu premise that would have never gotten greenlighted otherwise, and that alone is reason enough to play it.
Broken Age: Act 2 may stumble a bit trying to be something it isn’t, but what it is, is still gorgeous and enthralling, and I’ll put up with some frustrating puzzles and backtracking for that.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 1, 2015