Review of Broken Age - Double Fine Adventure from Kickstarter

Thursday, Aug 10, 2017 | Post by Wiktorija | 0 comment(s)

Double Fine made us wait a long time to finish the Broken Age. Is this kickstart hit fulfills its hopes? Unfortunately, in the second act something went wrong.

Broken Age

When I wrote the review of the first act of Broken Age almost a year and a half ago, I did not think that we would have to wait until the end of the story. I think we all believed that Double Fine would still deal with the subject more quickly. All the more so since the segmentation itself was never planned and was rather an emergency manoeuvre. The plans were for the nose of the publishers, for whom classic adventure was not an attractive project, and to meet the expectations of the community, which funded the whole project in the famous action on Kickstarter.

Now, after limiting the "continuation" of Broken Age, I must admit that the division of this position into acts was indeed an emergency manoeuvre. An attempt to avoid an iceberg that could lead to the sinking of an entire ship. The creators of Psychonauts and Brutal Legend are fortunate not to be a Titanic but suffer from the fact that there were so many problems and tricks during its production. So is it worth it to reach for it?


Broken Age tells the story of two characters who function in different worlds, but face similar problems. Both Vella, a baker village girl who is about to be sacrificed in a ritual dashing a deadly monster, and Shay, a boy living on the automated bass fishing ship Bassa Nostra, are prisoners of established order and want to break free. This problem we deal with at first, trying to discover the mechanisms that govern the bizarre universe. The first chapter of history refers to the youthful rebellion against the adult rule and the rules governing the world, and its strength lies in the eventual return of action. In short: the heroes overcome the adversities and discover the truth, including the fact that they have lived a lie throughout life. The final performed an interesting transformation of the character - the kids may not be in the adult yet, but certainly in the units that look at reality a little more suspiciously and critically. I was really curious what will happen next.

Today I regret to say that the other half of Broken Age is disappointing for several reasons. Firstly - it takes place almost entirely in already known locations, where we meet the same, not very interesting characters. Secondly - it teaches the card in the most boring way: it blooms with diligent monologues. The main archangel, who by his way appears so late in the plot that he is not in any way scared, can, for example, put out a whole plan of action as though he had nothing better to do. Thirdly - and that is probably the biggest problem - from the nice pictures there is emptiness, let's call it psychological. Characters are only puppets that jumping to our delight, not showing almost any character or even mental progression. The story ends, and I do not know anything important about Shayu, Vella and their families. They themselves seem to do random things in the hope that everything will work out - and it works out because that is the logic of this story. Just forward! This is a nice but alien world that does not use the potential of cool characters and is based on a lot of unclear rules.

Tim Schafer is known for his sense of humour, so from Broken Age, good jokes are expected. I sincerely concede that for me the game is more pleasant than fun - it's a show created by the imagination, not comic. Of course, funny dialogues or happenings happen, but the most impressive is crazy and cute ideas. In building characters and the world, Double Fine sometimes gives the eye to older audiences, such as ridiculing hyphen ists, social superstitions or religious cults, but practically never goes beyond the safety barrier. I think that this game will appeal to both young and old fans - a lot of sweetness, charm and whimsy in it, with a slight admixture of content having a second bottom. Broken Age is associated with creative, contemporary fairy tale, not a comedy. Perhaps it was Schafer who softened, or maybe he just felt that our cynical reality was needed.

Writing a review of the first part, I complained that the whole gameplay was a bit slow, subdued and washed out of emotion. I also counted on the fact that maybe the pace would be overturned in the second part. It did not happen because despite many seemingly moving moments (including the threat of heroes' life) the game continues to be "retracted" and sometimes boring. This is also a feature of the later part of the storyline - the characters simply change into worlds, so we visit the same places again. On this basis, it was possible to build interesting scenarios and sometimes these are visible in Broken Age. Mostly, however, it is about some insignificant event - everything is a background without a trace. Besides, even though wandering around previously visited adventures is a norm, in this case evidently the budget cuts. This is a great illustration of the transition to the left of the "snake tree", which we can now verify with Shay's abilities. Two meters behind the tree there is ... the abyss and the end of the road. The new places are empty and uninteresting in contrast, consisting mainly of gray-out spots. So if you've been waiting for rich and absurd ideas, you'll be disappointed.

Despite the lack of strong accents, Broken Age is undoubtedly a pleasant experience and one of the better adventures I have encountered. The selection of actors and the quality of the recordings is very high, although due to the above-mentioned issues certain characters got a bit "overdone" and I did not want to hear them any longer (especially on the Shaya automated ship). Despite this, even the strangest creations fall out, and some of the heroes will probably enter the pantheon of indigenous peoples (my type is the "wolf" played by David Kaufman). To me, the most important thing is that all the speeches are natural - that is especially true for Vella and Shay, with whom we spend all the time. These two do not irritate and arouse sympathy: in their general naiveté, the will to fight for change, cunning or astonishment. You can just like this couple, and that's about it. It's just pity that we all feel a certain distance all the time - with the events, the characters seem less and less real.

In the case of Broken Age, I was most afraid of coping with high expectations with the author's capabilities. I was afraid that the game would look less expensive - like a project that could carry out a two-person independent studio. After the first act, however, I was satisfied with the final effect. After going through the whole game, generally speaking, I support my opinion, although I have to remember what I already wrote - in the second half there are no new places and heroes (except literally 2-3 exceptions). Certainly praise for the line, colour and differences between the two adventures. The Broken Age makes the game feel like a tasty game, although it is split into unequal acts. The first is the pomp of absurd ideas. The second is just a replay of entertainment and does not offer the similar wealth of sensations.

In the Kickstarter campaign, the studio Double Fine hinted at the desire to revive the adventure and development of this genre. These announcements are closely related to the game itself, which is rather simple on the part of the components. In the first half of the Broken Age, there are not many objects and characters, we do not often have to engage in complicated dialogue trees, and the puzzles turn out to be rather prosaic. The authors put the gameplay on the table and do not want to disturb the reception of history too much. There are no strangers or attempts to change something in the genre, like the Wadjet Eye Games team or even the Telltale Games. Broken Age is a classic adventure to the pain - with all the advantages and disadvantages of this solution. The interface is often cumbersome because we have to drag objects to where we want to use them. In a few scenes, I was also annoyed by a panel of people disturbing the movement. The beginning of the game is nonetheless smooth and smooth. Too bad it can not be said of the second act ...

The second episode turns up the level of difficulty from the very beginning. The structure remains similar - Shay and Vella have to do some work in their respective regions. Sometimes you just have to look in one reality in the hint that you should use in the other. In practice, we have some freedom of action - how bored us one page, you can switch quickly to the other and try to force yourself. I have to admit that in this part of the story I sometimes wandered around, mainly because of a pair of annoying puzzles. The biggest trouble is making a puzzle with knots and "programming robots". The first one uses kalam bu rami and abstract images. When you understand this labyrinth of shapes and words, the whole is ridiculous. The problem is that on the way we have to chop a couple of screens and unnecessary dialogue on the way. This is annoying. In the second case, the fact that the game does not remember the settings of the robot is disturbing - so I suggest that you take pictures of them. In general, these are not bad puzzles. The point is that there is no time for their "smoothing" and better organization of the game. Even knowing the solution, sometimes we can trip over some badly designed item and be forced to repeat everything again.

I have a big problem with the Broken Age rating and have been working on it myself. They split the game into two parts, probably to keep the Kickstarter community from breaking. And how should we treat this production? Probably many people, such as consoles, will play it one at a time and will not even notice the division into acts. The more so in the game itself there is nothing about it - there is no reminder of the events of the first episode as if the creators pretended that no division was. For me, who went through the first part over a year ago, and now I've finished the story, Broken Age is a weird creature with a real eye on various development cuts and stitches. The first act broadcasted a great, overheard finale, which was contradicted by the general assumptions of the project, limited by budget despite the success of Kickstarter. The second act is ... modest and underdeveloped. Leaves useless, because it does not expand the character of Vella and Shay, does not take us on any crazy journey. Instead, we drove to the same locations and look forward to a particularly exciting final. The end, brighter shit will not be, you can break up. I already feel how the story escapes from my memory ...

Do not get me wrong - I believe that despite these disappointments Broken Age is a bad thing. Tim Schafer, co-author of such legends as The Secret of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango, and creators of Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, still knows how to do adventures. Double Fine does not know how to do business and organize the work of his team. Perhaps it is not in the best form of writing and should look for a helper (maybe a lunatic like Anthony Burch?). These factors, in my opinion, caused a modest, pleasant and adventurous adventure to be created during the time of Frankenstein's monster. Sweet, small, Kickstarter bite.

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