Broken Age

I grew up on adventure games – King’s/Police/Space Quest
from Sierra, Sam And Max Hit The Road from LucasArts, even Loom and Leisure
Suit Larry.  If it was point-and-click, I liked it *way* more than most of
the other game genres. Somewhere along the line, though, the adventure game got
pushed aside by FPS (First-Person Shooters), RTS (Real-Time Strategy), and
action-oriented 3rd person games. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a title or
franchise in each genre that I’ve admired, but point-and-click adventure games
always held a special place in my heart.

King of this genre, for me, was the work of Tim Schafer. From his work at
LucasArts (Monkey Island 2, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, etc) to his
founding and subsequent work at Double Fine (Brutal Legend, Costume Quest,
etc).  Long have I pined for the glory days of point-and-click adventure
games.   Thankfully, my prayers (and the prayers of thousands of
gamers) were answered in 2012 when Double Fine launched a Kickstarter campaign for
a new adventure game project. I followed their journey with game design,
concept art, soundtrack samples, and general nerdiness when it came to the
behind-the-curtain of “how a game is made”.  Earlier this month,
our patience and loyalty finally paid off: we get to play the game we backed –
Broken Age.

Now, currently, only Act 1 is available and I haven’t
completed all of it (you can readily switch between two main characters in 2
separate stories), but what I’ve played is wonderfully whimsical and full of
nostalgia.  I lamented the day the games went from the hand-drawn
animation style of “Sam & Max” and “Curse of Monkey
Island” to the all-CG look.  This gradually changed over time and by
the time Broken Age came out, I no longer cared: the movement and design of the
colorful characters had me enthralled.  At the top of Act 1, you have a
choice to play the story of Vella (voiced by Masasa Moyo) or Shay (voiced by
Elijah Wood).
Vella is a girl who has been chosen to represent her village
in the “Maiden’s Feast” which is a ceremony not unlike “The
Lottery” where a member from each village is sacrificed to appease a
horrific monster.  Vella is not convinced this is the way things should be
done anymore and sets her mind on changing things.
Shay is a young boy living on a suspiciously safe spaceship
watched over by a “Mother” and “Father” figure (represented
by a ship-generated “Sun” and “Moon” respectively). After
becoming bored with the “missions”, Shay finally comes in contact
with a wolf character hiding out in the bowels of the ship who asks for Shay’s
help in saving and protecting the universe.

Double
Fine makes sure that their years of game-making experience shines here. Dying
in game has never really been an option for the point-and-click titles: if
you’re afraid of your character dying, how can you effectively try new things
in order to solve puzzles? The instant immersion of the game world ensconces
you like a warm blanket and begs you to “just dream here for a little
while longer”. I had a heck of a time breaking free for food or sleep.
Congratulations, Double Fine: I’m loving what I see so far. Keep up work like
this and we might see a resurgence in the point-and-click adventure genre which
is sorely needed and I can’t be the only one that misses the glory days of this
level of storytelling.

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