Broken Age: The Complete Adventure (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 05.05.2015

Review for Broken Age: The Complete Adventure on PlayStation 4

Broken Age marks the first return of Tim Schafer to point-and-click adventure games since the classic Grim Fandango. Originally a Kickstarter with a goal of $400,000, Broken Age destroyed its target funding, hitting the goal in just nine hours, and then going on to raise a massive $3.3 million before the funding period ended, quickly making it the highest-backed crowd-funded game project of all time. This prompted Schafer to look into a larger game and more features, which resulted in some major controversy when it was announced that the game would be split into two acts, and that sales of the first act would fund the second… Cubed3 has already reviewed Act 1 and Act 2 individually on PC, but now with both acts available as a full release on PlayStation 4, how does the final, complete product measure up? Were those extra funds justified, and is this a return to the classic adventure games of Schafer's history?

The story gives two possible protagonists to choose between: Vela and Shay. Vela is a headstrong teenager who is preparing for the greatest honour a girl her age can acquire - being a ritual sacrifice for a Lovecraftian horror known as Mog Chothra… It's a really interesting premise to start her journey. Her family will be met, who all clearly care about her, but are overjoyed with the thought of her sacrifice, except her grandfather. He tells of how, in his day, they were warriors and would fight. This warrior spirit skipped a generation with Vela's parents, but has grown strong in her as she decides to fight her fate and instead kill the giant monster that has plagued their lands as long as anyone can remember.

Screenshot for Broken Age: The Complete Adventure on PlayStation 4

Shay is also a teenager, but has a very different relationship with his "parents." He is the Captain and only living crew of a spaceship, with a pair of AI known as Mum and Dad looking after him, along with a bunch of knitted yarn robot friends that his "Mum" made for him. Shay is stuck in a repetitious cycle of days, embarking on fake "missions" his Mum arranges, all very childish and overbearing.

Both stories have a strong emphasis on the teenage years and some of the challenges experienced during this time. Shay is developing from a boy to a man, fighting against his overbearing and overprotective parents. Vela is pushing out against what is expected of her, becoming her own person and fighting against social expectations. The story is full of subtle commentary and smart writing; it can be both funny and poignant at times and remind of the highpoints of earlier Schafer titles.

Screenshot for Broken Age: The Complete Adventure on PlayStation 4

The gameplay itself is textbook point-and-click adventure. Collecting items and then working on logical problems, Vela and Shay can be switched between on demand. It's a feature that really helps when a puzzle gets too frustrating, to switch over and progress the other story instead. It is used fantastically later on where what one character learns helps with the puzzles of the other. The problem with this is the game doesn't suggest switching, so it can result in some very frustrating moments. The puzzles themselves run the gambit between the obviously easy and the "throw the controller at the wall" difficult. The latter is especially true towards the second half of the game, when they can be very tough.

The split between the two acts is very noticeable when it comes to the puzzles. The ones in the second act offer much more challenge, but near the end of the game some of the solutions make no sense and end up really frustrating. The only way to solve them is the age old solution for badly designed puzzles of trial-and-error; repeatedly trying every item in the inventory against every item in the environments… It's simply not fun and puts a real negativity on the rest of the game.

Screenshot for Broken Age: The Complete Adventure on PlayStation 4

As already mentioned, Broken Age was split into two releases. Even though this review is looking at the game as a single entity, it's impossible to not feel the shift in between the two. Act 2 is noticeably worse than the first. Although there are some great puzzles in the second, which offer a lot more challenge than Act 1, there are many puzzles that really ruin the momentum. Due to the illogical nature of the solution, even the most veteran problem solvers will spend an inordinate amount of time trying every possible combination of items. It's not just the puzzles that go downhill towards the end of the game, either; the story takes a dip - the worst part being the ending. Without spoiling anything, it feels like the production was cut short and that there was perhaps more planned to wrap things up. Is another title in this series planned? Regardless, with the current ending, things are left unresolved, questions are left unanswered and it all feels rather unfinished.

Point-and-click fans will thoroughly enjoy Broken Age regardless of its flaws, and the documentary that was originally only available for backers is now freely available on YouTube, adding a fantastic element to the game that is really worth watching. Broken Age took almost two years for the first act to be released, followed by a further 15 months for the second act. For the final product to be released, it took a total of 26 months to come to fruition. It is argued that the extra money from the Kickstarter resulted in a bigger project than originally anticipated, hence the storied history and controversy over the delays, the talks of money and the splitting into two parts.

Screenshot for Broken Age: The Complete Adventure on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

For a game that starts out with such promise it's really disappointing to see that the latter half of Broken Age is so mediocre. The two acts being separate entities really shows, but considering the 15 month delay between the two releases, a superior second act was expected, but Act 1 is clearly better. The disappointing ending and a number of terrible puzzles towards the end of the game really impacts the final product. It's still well worth picking up and experiencing for the point-and-click fans out there, although it is perhaps best to wait until it's on sale again…

Developer

Double Fine

Publisher

Double Fine

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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