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Broken Age: Act 1 Review

Act 1 of Broken Age is an amazing looking game, which is probably to be expected given that Double Fine’s Kickstarter earned it a pretty penny. The dream of course was to bring back the point and click adventure and restore it to its former glory in a world of amazingly realistic graphics. The problem was of course, it'd still a point and click adventure and in this respect you can only do what the genre allows.

I personally have fond memories of point and click. Monkey Island was a classic and its humour made gaming a fun place to be. I also remember a point and click Discworld game, which was just brilliant, so I had high hopes for Broken Age Episode One. 

Starring the likes of Elisha Wood and one of my favourite actors, the over the top, Jack Black, Broken Age: Episode One tells the dual story of Shay, a cosmonaut who may or may not be the last human alive, and Vella, a young woman who would prefer to fight rather than be eaten by the large beast known as Mog Chothra. 

As you would expect, from designer Tim Schafer, the game is packed with humour and some wonderful design choices. Of course the main focus of the game is not on the humour or the design, but the adventure and in this respect you'll be wandering through each wonderful looking level, trying you best to solve all manner of puzzles. To do so you'll collect items and use them to progress further, be this by handing them to NPC's or combining them to create all manner of contraptions in order to get what you need - cloud walking extendable ladders anyone?

The puzzles in Broken Age are really well thought out and do require some logic and often, some out of the box thinking, in order to complete them. The thing I find with point and click though is that if you investigate enough you'll be able to find everything needed within the current level, so it's just a case of eliminating each item until you find the one you need to solve the puzzle. That's probably the smart thing to do anyway, especially if your out of the box thinking is failing you.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the game is that it never prompts you to switch between characters, therefore if you decide to play the whole of Vella's adventure, when you then switch to Shay you will see references that would perhaps have been more relevant had the game forced a switch on you. It would also have been nice to see some interaction between the two characters, although perhaps Episode 2 will bring this. On a more positive note it is, for example, nice to be able to manually switch to Shay's story should you be stuck on a puzzle in Vella's.

For all of the puzzles and wonderfully designed levels, you eyes will always wander back to the art work. Broken Age is like a children's book come to life. The graphics are stunning and wonderfully drawn and thanks to the lack of menus on screen everything feels like such a seamless experience. 

Broken Age Act 1 is a brilliant adventure game but it's not one which reinvents the genre. More could have been done, however the characters are eccentric, but likeable, the artwork is brilliant and the voice work is as good as you'd expect from such top quality actors. Tim Schafer kick started a revolution when he crowd funded Broken Age: Act One and therefore this game had a lot to live up to. To me at least, Schafer has managed to deliver. Bringing point and click to 2014 was never going to be easy, but if anyone could do it, Double Fine could.

Words by Joe Anderson 
(@_wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta)

(Version Tested: PC)


+ Looks Amazing
+ Brilliant Acting
+ Wonderful Level Design
+ Memorable Characters


- Forced switching between stories would have been nice

Edited On 17 Jan, 2014

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