With Broken Age, Double Fine pretty much put Kickstarter on the map for indie developers, making it the go to platform to help make their dreams come true. The original idea for the project was small. Tim Schafer hadn't released a point and click adventure since 1998, and this was the genre that started his career. No big publishers wanted to fund these kind of games anymore, so he turned to us, his fans, to see if we wanted it or not. Our response was clear as the initial goal was to raise $400,000 and the Kickstarter ended at a total of $3,336,371...and that is just the total from the initial funding. Despite the incredible success Double Fine saw from public funding, there were some concerns that made news during development, the main one being that the project had become too big and they required more funding to complete it. Tim Schafer later announced that Broken Age would be split up into two acts and would take the funds from people who purchase the game and use that to develop Act II. This is why I am writing this review. This is a unique situation where how well this game does financially after release will have a huge impact on the second half of the game. This review is my way of trying to help out Double Fine to get a bigger audience so that this fantastic game gets the finale it deserves. Even if one person reads this and because of me decides to purchase the game, I will be happy. So now that you know how super important this is to me, I'll try actually talking about the game itself. :)
In Broken Age you play as the two teenagers Shay and Vella, as they are separately trying to make a major change in their lives. Shay lives in a spaceship with his loving AI parents where his every need is taken care of, though they still treat him like a child, due to their limited programming. Whereas Vella is about to be sacrificed to a giant monster as is tradition in her home town....one of these lives sounds worse than the other. Much like Day Of The Tentacle, you can swap back and fourth between the two protagonists at any moment and experience the two incredibly contrasting stories in any form you like. The gameplay is very similar to the classic point and clicks you remember, even bringing back the traditional crosshair rather than a hand or simple mouse cursor which are both more common nowadays. The big difference for gameplay is that you click and drag items in your inventory onto other objects rather than clicking to activate the item, then clicking on the object you wish to interact with. This may seems like a very small change but it instantly felt much better than the traditional method, greatly improving the overall flow of the game which I could feel was very important for Double Fine.
The main parts of any traditional point and click game are the story and puzzles. The puzzles in Broken Age may be the weakest part for some players, as this was expected to be a return to the olden days, the puzzles in Broken Age are overall pretty easy. I was never stuck for six hours straight, pulling my hair out over what I needed to do next. To be honest though, that's a good thing. Puzzles are still an important part of Broken Age, and it still feels like an adventure game, but I feel like Double Fine wanted everyone to be able to experience the wonderful story, characters, and environments they worked so hard to create, rather than have half their players be stuck because they don't know what to do with a bottle of root beer. The puzzles aren't bad, they are still very smart in how they are used, and they compliment, rather than hinder the flow of the story, which is truly what makes this game an absolute gem.
The stories of Vella and Shay are both incredible, and filled with mystery. The reason I finished this game so quickly is because I needed to see what happened to them, and I needed answers as to why these kids are both in these crazy situations. Double Fine has always been masters at creating fantastic yet unique stories, characters, and environments and this game is no different. With the help of backers, they were able to create and bring together these extremely contrasting environments and characters and somehow make them feel like they all belong together. I never questioned that in the same game I was talking to a hipster lumberjack in the forest, I also had a futuristic talking spoon in space. As you can tell from the last sentence, Double Fine brings another of their staples to Broken Age which is comedy. Though it doesn't have as strong of a presence as some of their previous games, most likely due to the somewhat serious tone, I was still laughing quite a bit, and it definitely helped that they had incredible voice talent to take advantage of including Wil Wheaton, Elijah Wood, Jack Black, and more.
Originally when I saw the art style for Broken Age, I have to be honest, I really did not care for it. It seemed too strange, and it didn't say "old school point and click" to me. However that all changed when I started playing the game. The art really does compliment the style of the story and the feel of the game. Seeing it come alive and be animated really proved me wrong and what was once ugly to me is now an absolute visual beauty.
Overall Broken Age so far is an absolutely amazing game, filled with wonder, charm, and childlike fun, something that has been mostly lost on modern video games. It's a must play for anyone that was obsessed with the point and clicks from long ago and an excellent starting point for those who are interested in the genre. The story, characters, environments, art, and dialog all mix together and makes for truly a Double Fine Adventure. Please support Double Fine with this masterpiece so that we get the incredible finale it deserves.