The end of Broken Age is abrupt. You’ll sit, staring at the screen, for a few minutes before you realize you’ve reached it. It won’t feel much like an ending, either. That’s because it isn’t.
This is only the first half of the point-and-click adventure game from Tim Schafer’s Double Fine. The second half is expected later this year – it will be a free update to anyone who already has the game – and it will finish telling the stories of two young people who are trying to escape the paths their parents and society have set for them.
Vella is a young woman living in a rustic seaside town who is about to become a ritual sacrifice to a monster in what’s charmingly referred to as a “Maiden Feast.” Shay is a young man living aboard a space ship with overprotective computer “parents.”
The voice acting and art direction are superior. The graphics aren’t afraid to look like art, and the entire game is voiced, with Elijah Wood as Shay and Masasa Moyo as Vella, and with the likes of Jack Black and Wil Wheaton in supporting roles.
Broken Age is simple to play, requiring only clicks of the mouse, or trackpad. You advance through the game by exploring for objects you need to solve puzzles and by talking to other characters to determine plans of action. Moving the mouse pointer to the bottom left of the screen exposes a menu where you can combine items in your inventory.
There’s no hint system, though, so when you get stuck, and you will get stuck, you can switch to the other story to give your brain a break. You can switch at any time, and while the two stories aren’t intertwined, there are hints to the connection between Shay and Vella in Broken Age. Expect the full reveal in act two.
These are coming of age stories, about young people finding their own lives of adventure. While amiable, they are a bit heavy on the message and a bit light on the laughs. While this is in and of itself not a problem, we’ve come to expect a certain humour from Schafer’s games and you’ll notice its absence here.
But even if laughs are not overt, there is charm here. This may only be the first half of the game, but so far Broken Age delivers a beautiful, fully-realized world with sincere characters. It’s the product of a mature, confident studio and I’m looking forward to the continued adventures of Shay and Vella.
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Platforms: Linux, OS X, Windows; Android (iOS pending)