Thursday, April 24, 2014

Broken Age Act I Review

The Double Fine adventure Broken Age was not the first game by an adventure game veteran to be crowdfunded on Kickstarter.  However, it was by far the first high profile one, and is credited with kickstarting the adventure game crowdfunding movement.  Because of all the attention it has received, as well as the adventure game pedigree of its director, LucasArts veteran Tim Schafer, it has a lot to live up to in order to meet fan expectations.  It does manage to do just that, as the first act of this two part adventure manages to deliver the kind of experience for which Tim Schafer is known.

The game stars two different people from different worlds, a young boy named Shay and a young girl named Vella.  Shay has been raised on a spaceship for his entire life, with only the computer's AI to take care of him and keep him company, whereas Vella lives in a small community where she has been groomed her entire life to one day act as a human sacrifice for a giant beast.  However, both kids grow tired of the situation and decide they want more with their lives.  The story stands on its own among the classic LucasArts adventures with which it will inevitably be compared, as the game worlds are imaginative, the story lines for each child are very interesting, and the side characters are full of the quirks we've come to expect from a Tim Schafer game.

The game is played in two parts, as Shay and Vella both try to escape their lives, and the player can switch between the two characters at any time.  The game is controlled in a simplified point and click interface with only one button available for actions, and manages to work well.  The puzzles are done quite well, with the difficulty falling somewhere along the lines of Telltale's adventure games.  There are no head scratching puzzles here, but the development team has stated that the puzzles will increase in difficulty as the game goes on, much like how Tim Schafer's older adventures ramped up in difficulty in later parts of the game.

The game's backgrounds work well with Nathan Stapley's character designs. and the overall art style is as whimsical and imaginative as we've come to expect from a Double Fine title.  Peter McConnell's music was performed live by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and it really shines.  Each piece fits the scenes wonderfully, helping to shape the world of the game as well as the whimsical art style.  The voice acting complements the musical score well.  Voice work is always top notch in Double Fine games, and it certainly doesn't disappoint here.  The whole cast is voiced wonderfully, with many veteran voice actors from Double Fine's games returning, along with several celebrities ranging from Wil Wheaton to Elijah Wood.  This isn't just stunt casting either, as each voice fits their role wonderfully.

Broken Age Act I definitely stands its own among Tim Schafer's classic adventure lineup.  The art style is whimsical and lively, the locations and characters are memorable, the orchestrated soundtrack is fantastic, and the voice acting is top notch.  The puzzles aren't too difficult, but, since the second act is said to be twice as long as the first, they're about right in terms of difficulty for the first third of a Tim Schafer adventure title.  The highest profile adventure title to come out of the Kickstarter movement has managed to deliver, and fans of Tim Schafer's adventure titles and fans of the adventure genre owe it to themselves to pick it up.

Final Verdict:

4½ out of 5
Act 2 Review

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