Menu Close

Broken Age Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Double Fine
Double Fine
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
April 28, 2015

There was a time when point-and-click adventures were not only common, but revered. The glorious days of Monkey Island and Myst are looked back upon with a particular fondness, which is precisely why Double Fine’s Broken Age Kickstarter campaign brought in $3.5 million. To many, this proved that the “old-fashioned” gameplay style didn’t deserve to be shelved in favor of fast-action twitch gaming that has no soul and no brain. And now, after a relatively rocky start on PC (the game released across a couple of Acts, which met with some controversy), the full Broken Age experience comes to the PlayStation platform. It’s exactly what you’d anticipate, which is a mostly fantastic result with only a touch of staleness and tedium.

Those familiar with Tim Schafer productions won’t be surprised when I say the art direction in this game is absolutely stellar. The Double Fine team has always excelled in the realm of visual artistry; in fact, one might argue that they remain one of the most innovative and talented graphical development teams in the world. From Psychonauts to Grim Fandango , these guys always deliver a charming, endlessly imaginative visual production. Broken Age is wonderfully designed and presented; that charm is ever-present and the backdrops are meticulously created. They don’t push the envelope in terms of technical photorealistic superiority; they do push the envelope in regards to ceaseless creativity.

The sound is deserving of praise as well. Some gamers may fault the pure adventure games for not really delivering high-octane sound effects and kickin’ soundtracks. Heck, many point-and-click adventures really only consisted of a few effects and little in the way of voice performances. But in some cases, less is more (just ask an art major). The subtlety of Broken Age ’s audio and blends perfectly with the overall vision and style. Just because your headphones aren’t rattling off your head doesn’t mean the experience is any less effective. When implemented properly, atmospheric sound, even when downplayed, can be extremely poignant. Welcome to Schafer’s world. But hey, if you need a little star power, how’s about Elijah Wood?

In this captivating little adventure, you control two characters: Shay and Vella. The aforementioned Wood lends his voice talents to Shay, who begins the game trapped in a spaceship. Thing is, the spaceship is fooling him: It’s telling him that he’s setting out on great adventures when in fact, he’s stuck in this sterile, automated environment. The fake “missions” he undertakes consist of all sorts of silliness; i.e., saving stuffed animals from cascades of deadly ice cream. Quick side note— I have to say, I don’t mind cute, but there are some scenarios in this game that just go beyond cute. You almost feel that if you keep playing, you’re going to end up a diabetic. But anyway, the fantastic art direction will keep you coming back for more.

As for the other main character, Vella, she begins by celebrating her part in something called the Maiden’s Feast. Vella, voiced by Masasa Moyo, must endure this rite of passage, which includes offering yourself to a horrid creature. Yep, Vella is gonna be a terrible sacrifice to the Mog Chothra, so what are you going to do? You may not be able to draw any parallels between Shay’s and Vella’s stories but that’s part of the fun: How do these two characters end up meeting? Or will they meet at all? How are they connected? The story unfolds at a good clip and keeps us asking questions, despite the over-the-top cutesy-ness of some of the quests. Remember, this is all about a fantastical world that’s supposed to enfold you in a web of mystery and intrigue.