Broken Age, Part 1: the reconsideration

In my last post, I’d said that I’d been struggling to stay engaged with Broken Age, the long-awaited, Kickstarter’d 2D point-and-click adventure game by Tim Schafer and Double Fine.  And I went off into some tangents about my personal feelings towards the Kickstarter process, and whether or not I was still interested in adventure games in general.  (That discussion, unfortunately, did not quite get to the point where I could find a way to include a link to Old Man Murray’s immortal classic “Death of Adventure Games”, so I’m including it here simply because I can’t not include a link to it if I’m talking about adventure games.)

I’d mentioned that I’d reached a point in both stories where the path was no longer linear – I’ll try to avoid spoilers here the best I can, but basically in Vella’s story I’d reached the 2nd (“cloud”) town and wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, and in Shay’s story I had been given a set of three urgent tasks but no real idea how I should tackle them.  I found myself feeling a little intimidated, I suppose, and when I get intimidated I sometimes tend to shut down, as opposed to persevering.

Well, it turns out that all I really needed was 24 hours to clear my head and come at these things with fresh eyes, and I ended up finishing both stories (Shay first, then Vella – which, now that I think about it, is probably the best way to do it) shortly thereafter.

Broken Age’s puzzles (such as they are) aren’t necessarily difficult or obtuse; your inventory is relatively small, and most of the time your objects interact with other objects in ways that make sense.  (As much as I dearly love Grim Fandango, there were a number of puzzles that simply broke my brain in half – I’m remembering a puzzle in the first act involving bread crumbs and an inflatable balloon.)  I suppose I was intimidated simply because when it comes to classic adventure games, I like to get things right, and I keep forgetting that there’s no real way to achieve a fail state.  At the end of the day, there was really only one puzzle that I couldn’t figure out without the help of the internet (i.e., using the crochet needle to trick the Weaver into going to a forbidden destination – I knew the crochet needle was involved, but I couldn’t figure out the solution – and in fact I still can’t, because the walkthrough I used didn’t actually explain why it worked).  Everything else was, for the most part, relatively straightforward.

What I really want to talk about, of course, is the cliffhanger at the end.  I won’t, of course, unless we take this into the comment section below.  Suffice it to say, I think it’s a pretty neat trick – and when I think back on certain elements of Shay’s story, there’s quite a lot of telegraphing – and now I absolutely cannot wait for Part 2.

Beyond that, the game is an absolute joy.  Marvelous voice acting with a very charming and witty script, outstanding art direction, a beautiful and evocative orchestral score.  This is, in fact, what I was hoping for when I backed this thing in the first place; I’m glad I finally came around to appreciate it.

Author: Jeremy Voss

Musician, wanna-be writer, suburban husband and father. I'll occasionally tweet from @couchshouts. You can find me on XBL, PSN and Steam as JervoNYC.

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