Video Game Broken Age (PC) (2014)

Overview: A point-and-click adventure which tells the strange story of two teenagers that come from different worlds, and yet share many similarities.


In Broken Age, plays as Vella (left) and Shay (right)

20171022: Part 1
Invoking my previous method of game selection (using my friend's Steam game list ordered from most to least played), I decided to play Broken Age.

Game Play Log:
I first clicked on the left side (girl's story) and just assumed I had to play as her. I played up until Vella's escape from Mog Chothra.
Upon exiting the game at this point, I noticed that the game allowed me to switch to the boy's story.

Tip: You can switch between Vella and Shay at any time via the menu at the bottom of the game.

Steam Game Time: 32 min

Every 14 years, maidens from a town are chosen and prepared as a sacrifice to Mog Chothra. Vella (center) sits in her dress cake plotting her escape as three girls have already been consumed by the monster.


20171022: Part 2
Upon resuming the game, I decided to continue playing as Vella.

Steam Game Time: 49 min (81 total)

20171023:
Resuming the game today, I was hooked until I finished it. Towards the end, I encountered some tricky and obnoxious puzzles. In fact, I threw in the towel for a couple of them.

Game Play Log:
Stuck with knots. Was trying to plot it out, then realized there's no pattern. I looked up the solution.
: Solution Hint #1: "Find someone who is good at tying knots and ask them for advice."

Meanwhile, Shay is stuck alone on a ship and, despite being a teenager, is literally treated like he's still a kid. (This screenshot also contains a reference to short A Trip to the Moon (1902) directed by George Melies.

: Solution Hint #2: The someone in Solution Hint #1 is Carol.
: Remark: I thought the puzzle would require walking back and forth, but the first failure after beginning the correct solution results in Shay quickly transitioning between the two necessary locations.

Stuck with telling jokes. I didn't want to exhaust all the possibilities. I looked up the solution.
: Remark: This puzzle was annoying, because there is no indication as to which dialogue branch would be successful. In other words, without searching for the answer, it's pure luck and/or painfully tedious.

The hard puzzles just kept on coming. Shay says he wish he were on his ship (to figure out the proper configuration for the robot). But I already got Vella stuck in a room with seemingly no actions. I looked up the solution.
: Solution Hint #1: Apparently the necessary information was contained in that one room! My goodness.

After Vella's escape, Vella finds herself in a city in the clouds.

The final puzzle of the game was annoying, because failure meant having to repeat most of the actions, and trying to debug and/or rectify the error in the long chain of actions felt painstakingly impossible. This first began with me reading about what I had missed with Vella's robot: I tried to place the robot on the navigation computer in Harp mode, but had no success. Apparently, the solution involves placing the robot on the tapestry area below the navigation computer.. As such, after trying about three to five times, with each attempt taking several minutes, I looked up the answer to find that I missed a small detail: Put Shay's robot into Hazard mode and give him the hammer. Place the robot next to the drum to distract Alex.

In the end, I finished playing at 5AM and was incredibly sleepy. In fact, this sleepiness was probably the cause of my failure to solve some of the puzzles, as well as my increased willingness to just look up the solution. While I could have stopped playing earlier, the story was gripping and I just couldn't put down the game.

Shay has plotted his own escape by placing a blow-up doll version of himself on his bed.

Unfortunately, I didn't like the ending. Everything up to the ending was strong. The game had great puzzles, despite some of the ones at the end which felt ridiculously evil. Again, perhaps I was just too tired to appreciate their difficulty or the subtlety in their solutions.

Elaborating on how I feel about the ending, it seemed abrupt. I was expecting there to be a more explicit resolution with the head bad guy. That is, in the same high quality, spoken dialogue that was offered throughout the entire game. Furthermore, I thought the two ships were being fired on by the enemy. How did their meltdown cause a cease fire?

Steam Game Time: 11.45 hours (12.8 hours total)

Guards Dead Eye  Courtney (left) and Dead Eye Dawn (right) prevent Vella from entering the Dead Eye God's chamber.


Thoughts:
Pros:
+ Great dialogue; speech and movement are a joy to watch
+ Excellent story, except perhaps the ending.
+ Ability to fast forward move between most areas. Sometimes the characters still have to walk, which is unfortunate.
+ I enjoyed the little twist at the end of Act 1.

Con:
- Switching between the two characters, Shay and Vella, falls somewhere between unclear and gimmicky. I would have praised the game for rewarding the player who was able to make use between switching between the stories. However, while I played the game, the mechanic mainly served to keep me from becoming overwhelmed or frustrated when I couldn't figure out how to progress.

Dead Eye Dawn and Shay engage in battle.


Summary:
Overall, the game was rough around the edges, but I would recommend it to any fan of point-and-click adventures.

Broken Age (PC) (2014)*
*Act 1: January 28, 2014
*Act 2: April 28, 2015

Relevant Links:
Broken Age (Wikipedia.org)
Broken Age (PC) (MetaCritic.com)
Broken Age (Steam Store Page)

They're just side characters, but this scene was a funny addition to the story: Dead Eye Dawn (left) and Dead Eye Courtney (right)

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