Monday, 4 May 2015

Broken Age Review (PS4/PS Vita)


Lucas Arts’ point and click adventures are undoubtedly some of the finest game you will ever have the pleasure of playing. Unfortunately, the adventure game has (or at least had) fallen out of favour for a long time. There’s been a slight resurgence in the genre recently with output like the Walking Dead and other episodic games.  But Broken Age is a return the classic point and click roots of 2D graphics and logic puzzles to solve.

We played the first part of Broken Age some time ago and it’s testament to it that starting from scratch in the now complete version didn’t bother us one bit. You follow the story of a young boy named Shay who is trapped on a space ship and a young girl named Vela who is set to be sacrificed to a big monster. You need take control of each of them as their fates become strangely intertwined.

The first thing to say is that the interface on both the PS4 and Vita works very well so moving from mouse to controller is certainly not the issue it used to be with games like Discworld on the PS1. You can use the analogue sticks to move the cursor or the touch pad/screen. Buttons are used as shortcuts and it all works very well. There are a few puzzles that require good timing but the windows are large enough for either controller to be perfectly up to the job.

The graphics are beautifully drawn 2D art that have a certain charm to them. Shay’s space ship and Vela’s island are wonderfully brought to life in a sort of illustrated kid’s fantasy story kind of way that looks gorgeous and sets the scene wonderfully. Environments are imaginative and unique and it’ll certainly be a change from most of the lands you’ve been adventuring through in video game form.

The dialogue and writing is also excellent throughout the game. Even minor characters have interesting things to say and the script is always sharp and often both touching and funny. There are a couple of puzzles that could do with a bit more of a pointer towards their solutions but on the whole the voicing and dialogue do a great job.

Adventure games live and die by their puzzles and Broken Age is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to this. The first part of the game is quite straight forward with small logical leaps needed to get through. You also don’t need to switch characters to solve anything and so it acts as two separate adventures that become interlinked as you move into act 2. It should be noted as well that unless you start with Shay there could be some serious spoilers going on in Vela’s story.

Once you get into the second act it all ramps up a bit. The puzzles become tougher but are for the most part still the right side of lunacy. We also didn’t descend into trying every object we had on everything more than about twice throughout the game. Some kind of sign posting about needing to change characters for certain things would also have been greatly appreciated.

There are, however, some insane puzzles that need solving which could have done with a lot better explanation about how they are meant to be beaten. There are a couple of occasions that require you to rewire things which will have you throwing controllers across the room unless you stumble upon how to do it. This is a throwback to the past we really could have done without.

It’s difficult to talk about the story as almost any information will spoil the experience for players but we can say that by the end there are a series of serious payoffs that make the adventure well worth undertaking. There are a few big twists and turns along the way and we really enjoyed unravelling the mystery and seeing how it all fitted together once we had the big picture.

Overall, Broken Age is a strong return for the classic 2D point and click genre. It’s funny and heartfelt and the story is both original and interesting. There weren’t many moments that we found we were completely stuck and even then we were almost always enjoying it. It’s certainly getting up there with some of the best in the genre. Ok, so the start might be a bit easy and the end might be a bit hard but it’s just a big ball of invention with a dash of lunacy and there isn’t enough of that around. It’s an original title with imagination and fantastical story telling at its heart and any adventure fan should thoroughly enjoy it.

Overall 8/10

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