Just when you think we’ve had enough point and click games,Â Tim Schafer – the guy (pardon the pun) behind the original Monkey Island games – gets to work on a whole new title to bring adventure games back to where they belong: into the realm of realistic, challenging and clever-joke-filled enjoyment. With Broken Age we have an entirely new story, split into two parts with the second act coming later in the year. And it’s brilliant.
You play through Act 1 as two characters, both on totally different journeys with different goals and not a shared objective between them. You can flick between them more or less at will, and effectively play two totally individual adventure games for most of the game. You always know the two characters will come together (otherwise what’s the point, right?) but the manner that it happens is both surprising and painfully tantalising, so much so I won’t ruin it by giving you any details whatsoever. Both stories follow a similar theme though, with the teenage characters both setting out to disrupt the accepted normality of life in order to follow a more independent life for themselves. It’s similar yet totally different, and it works beautifully.
What I will tell you about though is the amazing voice acting cast that have been brought in to carry out the fantastic spoken parts. With the likes ofÂ Elijah Wood, Jack Black and Jennifer Hale (among several other great performers) there are plenty of voices to recognise, and the delivery of the dialogue is brilliant whether it’s a genuinely hilarious conversation or a mournful line of sadness, every moment has been done in such a way that you feel the emotions of the characters, and actually begin to connect with them in a way that’s unusual in modern pointy-clickers.
Part of this could be the art style, with the characters often appearing quite large on the screen, but only going to demonstrate the gorgeous hand-drawn style of everything you see on the screen. Both Vella and Shay wander round vibrant and incredibly detailed worlds and with the dialogue options covering a bewildering number of bases, and an impressive array of interactive elements (including a fairly angry sap-spewing tree). The soundtrack is worthy of note too, and with the current Steam package offering the game and the soundtrack together for just Â£4 more than the game alone, I’d whole-heartedly recommend picking it up as a double pack. You will, incidentally, get the second and final act as a free update when it’s released later in the year. Result.
As far as the puzzles go most of them are within reach of most brains, although when I got stuck looking for a specific item (I know what I needed, I just couldn’t find it) I spent a long time walking around, normally something which isn’t an issue as most walks off-screen can be accelerated with a double click, but with larger areas that scroll left and right I spent a fair while waiting for the character to get her ass in gear and go where I wanted to. It’s a small complaint really, and one born out of impatience on my part (fueled by my feeling of numb-nuttery when I realised what I was missing), and the rest of the time some simple logic sent me in the right direction. There are a few red herrings dotted around that you’d swear blind would come in useful, but they’re there just to confuse you a bit. I welcome this idea with open arms; it stops that method of clicking everywhere randomly to find a solution and gives you that “maybe it’ll be useful later” thought that will carry on into Act 2.
Broken Age then is set up to be a genuine masterpiece, one of those games that will stick in the mind of all who play it and be remembered and talked about for years to come. It won’t have the same exposure as Monkey Island, but the gaming scene isn’t what it was back then. But for PC gamers, or pointy-clickers who have spent some time out of the genre, there’s no finer way to get yourself back in. Highly, highly recommended.
Reviewed on PC