Today, Kickstarter has been used by a number of different developers to crowdfund their games. I would like to say that Broken Age was the game that started this trend (which, by the way, I am very happy to see). Tim Schafer, the co-developer of Day of the Tentacle and developer of Grim Fandango, asked for $400k to make a small game as well as a documentary about the development process. He got waaaaay more and started to make a full-length point-and-click adventure game.
This was in February 2012. As scope increased, so did the development time and the game took a long time to get done. Double Fine also ran out of money and decided to split Broken Age in two acts in order to make some money whilst developing the last part of the game. I was one of the backers and I worried immensely about the future of the game. In the end I was happy to see a full game released. But how was the results?
First of all, the graphics are beautiful. I love the hand-painted feeling in the game and the imaginative scenes that we get to explore. Everything is just gorgeous. The music goes hand-in-hand with the graphics and the result is a very smooth and calming ambience.
The theme of the game is growing up and taking control of your life. Our main protagonists are Vella and Shay:
Vella is a young woman who has been selected to be sacrificed to the beast that regularly visit her village, threatening to kill everyone if it doesn’t get young maidens.
Shay is a young man who stuck on a spaceship where the ship’s mother does everything to keep him safe and out of harm’s way.
Neither of them have any control of their lives and they desperately want to break out of their situation.
Broken Age is divided into two acts which were released months apart, and the difference in gameplay is very distinct between the two acts. In both acts, you will solve puzzles in order to advance the story. After the first act Double Fine Productions were criticised for not making the puzzles difficult enough. They were easy, story-based and required very few steps to solve.
In the second act, Double Fine had listened to their fan base and upped the difficulty of the puzzles. The second part of the game has more classic adventure game puzzles with some far-fetched solutions. I had to bring out pen and paper and take notes to solve some of them, and I must say I enjoy this difficulty level much more than the first part.
Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone. With act 2 released, now the critique was that the game was too difficult and that the puzzles were not fun anymore.
Either way, if you love beautiful graphics and a nice story I would definitely recommend Broken Age. Just be warned that there may be some difficult puzzles waiting ahead. If you instead want difficult puzzles you will need to play for an hour or so before you will have your challenge.
I am very happy that I backed this game when it was released on Kickstarter because I truly believe it has made a difference in the gaming industry. However, if I were to recommend just one point-and-click game to you, I would have to recommend Deponia instead.
The documentary is very worth seeing so if you have the time and are curious about how to make a computer game: check it out on YouTube!
6/10 grabbin’ garys