Broken Age is a split adventure between two young heroes. First there’s Vella: a young girl trying to escape her sacrificial destiny to instead destroy the very monster that torments her world. Then there’s Shay: a young boy who is trying to escape the monotony of his routine space life and winds off biting more than he can chew in the process. The story will sink its hooks in until the very end thanks to witty dialogue, charismatic characters, and an amazing voice cast. It’s funny, charming, unique, and has one heck of an ending.
Double Fine brings back old school adventure games in a new, more streamlined way. Simply click around to move, interact with characters for dialogue choices, and solve puzzles via an inventory of items acquired on the journey. For example, an early puzzle of Vella’s requires her to find a knife. By talking to her grandfather, he admits he has it, but will not give it up. Simply present him with a cupcake, ask him to split it, and he’ll reveal the knife to do so. The puzzles are logic based that border on the insane at times, but they’re clever, fun to solve, and never too frustrating.
This is a big start for 2014 with one of the most gorgeous looking games right out the gate. The animations are smooth, the environments inventive, and there was nothing technically wrong with the game. The voice cast, in particular the two leads of Elijah Wood as Shay and Masasa Moyo as Vella, are phenomenal. The music is there and fits its purpose, but nothing really stands out, which is fine. It’s short, but as episodic content goes complaining about a game’s length would be like complaining that the sky is blue and not green. It is what it is.
Broken Age is proof that crowd-funded games work and that developers, like Double Fine, are dedicated to pleasing their fans. It’s a short, but sweet adventure that’s unforgettable, hilarious, and a brainteaser. This is quite possibly Double Fine’s best game since Psychonauts. It’s the first must play of 2014.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on January 15, 2014 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.