Broken Age Review – Adventure Time (PS4)
Broken Age has made somewhat of a name for itself over the past couple years. Starting its life as a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that has since inspired multiple other dream projects, developer Double Fine released the first part of its new adventure game on PC at the beginning of 2014. Now a year later, the game is headed to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and, PS Vita as a complete package — featuring both Act 1 and Act 2 in a single download.
Crafted by the same team that made the original Grim Fandango, Broken Age was developed as a throwback to adventure games of the past. The game is drawn up in a pastel-heavy style that is both beautiful and appropriate for the wacky antics Double Fine is known for — don’t let it deter you either. Broken Age is a fantastic journey that has a little something for everyone.
A Tale of Two Protagonists
The story is split between dual protagonists, Vella and Shay, who share more in common than first meets the eye in a universe filled with twists, turns and well-placed illusions. Vella is a girl who has been selected by her village peers to be a living sacrifice to a monster known as the Mog Chothra — and wishing to shed her fate, sets off to escape. Shay is a young boy who lives in the confines of his very own spaceship, under the watchful eye of a motherly computer who works to protect him at all costs. Shay too grows tired of his “traditions” and sneaks off to seek the thrill of real adventure.
Everything comes to a head at the end of Act 1 when the story concludes several shocking developments before transitioning into the second Act where things become even more interesting for the dual protagonists as they swap places and explore their new worlds. The only downside to this development is the amount of recycled content — you’ll be revisiting a lot of the same NPCs and as a result it takes away from a lot of the discovery the first Act introduced for players. Those qualms aside though, I did enjoy going back and seeing how the circumstantial differences had changed things I already knew. The dialogue alone does not disappoint.
Who Will You Choose?
When you start the game you’ll have the option straight away of choosing between Vella or Shay’s tale — both of which can be swapped interchangeably any time you feel like a change of pace. Shay’s story is a bit more exploration and puzzle-heavy, where as Vella’s is more dialogue-heavy with many cutscenes in between traditional fetch-quest segments often found in typical adventure games. You’ll find yourself playing through both characters to get the whole picture here but that’s where Broken Age really shines. Its writing is clever and its characters are done through with a good amount of depth and occasional silliness. Double Fine’s work here is top notch and the various twists and reveals throughout the story kept me reaching for more.
Puzzles Done Smart
From a gameplay perspective, Broken Age is your standard adventure game romp through the use of point-and-click gestures, inventory management and dialogue options players have come to expect over the years. On PlayStation the game can be operated in a number of ways from standard button inputs to use of the touchscreen on the PS Vita version of the game. Broken Age really encourages exploration — and element forced on you to advance the story, which often involves the use of clever puzzles which have equally easy to understand and use controls.
Broken Age is a wonderful experience that I can’t recommend enough. As someone who grew up on the LucasArts-style adventure games of old Double Fine has pulled through with just enough nostalgia and modern aesthetic, offering up a fresh and funny classic in an age where blockbuster games rule the roost.
Review copy was provided by the publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.