There’s no denying that visually Broken Age is an absolute delight, it’s just such a shame that the bulk of the gameplay isn’t up to scratch
Although Broken Age sets itself up like any other point-and-click adventure, the unique two-character setup and an excellent first act help this adventure game stand out. With gorgeous visuals and some impressive dubbing work, Broken Age is certainly a charming game, but a directionless final third and some lacklustre puzzles hold this Indie title back from being the great title it so easily could have been.
The story splits between two characters that appear to have nothing in common. A young boy living on a spaceship lives out a monotonous life longing for an adventure to take him away from the mundane routine he’s stuck in. Parallel to this is a story of a young girl offered up for sacrifice to a monster which she rebels against and fights back. Both characters can be changed on the fly although there are moments where the story can’t be progressed further until the other character’s plot has been moved further along.
On the surface, the two stories seem completely disparate to one another, but as the plot progresses so too does the understanding of how these characters are aligned, and the wonderful way these two eventually meet is one of the stand out moments of this indie title. The tale is well paced for the most part although some of that is dependent on how quickly and efficiently you manage to complete the puzzles. The ending is a little abrupt too, and this sudden end to the game dampens what’s otherwise an enjoyable experience for the most part.
When it comes to the bulk of the gameplay and the puzzles themselves, Broken Age is, well, broken. Although the game opens with a very solid opening act, complete with a good dose of humour and some wonderfully crafted locations, later periods of the game include a lot of backtracking through the same locations which is a little disappointing. With such a wonderfully unique aesthetic, Broken Age seems to cry out for more imaginative locations late on just to break up the monotony, but it never arrives, masking the second half of the game in disappointment.
Although the early puzzles are good, providing an understanding into the basic mechanics of the game with a great blend of point-and-click puzzles and some ingenious riddles, the second act devolves into a bit of a click-fest as the game refuses to give any clues or direction as to what you should be doing at certain points of the game. There are numerous times where a solution isn’t clear and after some trial and error as well as constant backtracking you stumble across an extra location or step to receiving an item that wasn’t initially clear. Once or twice would be forgivable, but it happens throughout the game, miring the experience in frustration more than anything else.
Still, there’s no denying that visually Broken Age is an absolute delight. The unique aesthetic mixing CGI with hand-drawn animation really helps the locations stand out. There’re hints of Tearaway at play here and mixed with the puppet-like character models it gives the game a great dose of much-needed charm accompanied by a soothing soundtrack. It’s just such a shame that the bulk of the gameplay just isn’t up to scratch, as there’s a very good puzzle game somewhere in here, but it’s lost in a directionless second act and some questionable decisions, making Broken Age more of a chore to play than it should be.