Broken Age is a Cute Coming of Age Story with Tedious Puzzles

Back in 2014, Double Fine Productions released the first half of their Kickstarter project, Broken Age. The second half was released about a year later, so yes, I realize that I’m two years behind.  But in my defense, it did take me about a year to actually finish the game, and here’s why.

Broken Age is about two teenagers, Shay and Vella, living in two very different worlds. The coming of age part of the story is a bit heavy-handed. For example, Shay is a teenager living on a self flying spaceship that was essentially built for a toddler (his companions are smiley-face dancing robots and … people? Made out of yarn). I found Vella’s backstory more to my liking, as a teenager from a bakery town that has been chosen for their annual Mog Chothra sacrifices. And both of these teens just want to live their own lives…  well, I guess Vella just wants to live. Needless to say, the rest of the game is all about them learning about the harsher realities of the world and about how their lives and worlds become intertwined. I’ll stop there so as not to spoil the rest of the game.

Credit: Double Fine Productions

Now the story itself was original and well written, the dialogue was natural yet funny, and I liked the characters themselves. I genuinely did. Not to mention the art was beautiful and playful. I admit, I have a habit of buying games simply because they’re aesthetically pleasing. However, it took me a year to actually finish the game because the puzzles themselves were often so tedious that I simply lost interest. This may be a symptom of the type of game this is, as this is an issue that I personally have with a lot of of point and click games, but because of the playful aspect of this game, you sometimes have to really think outside of the box for some of the puzzles.

It got to the point where I would get stumped and literally just started wandering from room to room clicking on every possible thing for a clue. I guess that’s the point of a point and click game but as I said, it got tedious. Not to mention that when I did figure out a piece of a particular puzzle, I often had to run through several different rooms to accomplish a single step only to find that in the next step I had to run back and forth through those very same rooms. What this game did have to remedy this situation was the fact that you could switch between worlds/characters at any time. So when I would get too frustrated with one character, it was refreshing to just switch to the other and work on something different.

Lovely art design in Broken Age
Credit: Double Fine productions

There are also some clues in the game that are meant to help you solve certain puzzles, but these clues are so subtle that I didn’t even realize they were clues until I got so stumped I actually looked up what I was supposed to do. Yes– I will admit it; one particular puzzle infuriated me so much that I referred to the handy dandy google. And the clue for that puzzle was in the background of a picture. THE BACKGROUND OF A PICTURE. Just trust me when I say that in this game, you should pay close attention to everything you can interact with.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m actually not one to really criticize a lot things. In fact, I find that I tend to be very forgiving when it comes to flawed games, movies, etc. And that’s how I feel about this game. I am willing to forgive the tedious gameplay for the unique story and the lovely art. There were some clever, unexpected turns in the story, and it did have a very satisfying ending. Would I play the game again? It’s not likely. Fortunately, I don’t think it tries to be one of those games. It just wants to tell you a cute story with some pretty art, and if you’d like to be challenged by some puzzles along the way, this game is right up your alley. Personally, I might need to take a break from the point and click games for a while.

Images from here and here.

Melody Kowach

Writer, Editor, and Liaison for 6NC, Melody is a jack of all nerdoms but master of none probably because she has a weird dislike for watching things she's already watched since there are so many new things to watch! Melody enjoys anime, indie games, books, and sci-fi, and when she's not at home binge watching a show or gaming, she can usually be found at Disneyland.

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