Coming of Age in Broken Age, a Review
I can’t believe it took me as long as it did for me to hear about this game, but I am so glad that I was able to play this gem from start to finish.
When you start the game, you are given the option to choose between two characters: a young man asleep in an advanced bed, or a young woman who rests beneath a tree. As you progress through the story, you’ll play as both characters and have the ability to switch between their stories. At first, the two routes appear to be set in different eras: I initially thought that one was grounded in medieval times and the other was set in the far future. But the paths of the characters are more connected than they appear to be.
If you choose the young woman, you’ll control her and guide her to her family home. You’ll learn that her name is Vella and she has been chosen for the Maiden’s Feast, a traditional ceremony that sacrifices girls to the monster Mog Chothra. Vella expresses her desire to fight Mog Chothra and end the sacrifices, but her family silences her and attempts to persuade her that her actions are for the good of the village. Should you choose the young man, you’ll discover the world of Shay Volta (Elijah Wood). Shay lives on a spaceship, but his life is not as exciting as he wishes it would be: his daily routine is controlled by his overprotective mother, who babies him and fabricates adorable “missions” for him to act as a hero. His father appears to sympathize with Shay, but contact between the two of them is rare. Shay longs for a quest away from the smothering affections of his mother.
An act of rebellion from Vella and Shay destroys the expectations of their families and sets them on a quest for adventure. They each get closer and closer towards achieving their goals, but learn that the results aren’t quite what they envisioned. During their journeys, they encounter several interesting characters, many of whom are voiced by celebrities and well-known voice actors, including Wil Wheaton, Jack Black, Richard Horvitz, and Grey DeLisle Griffin. The dialogue, when combined with this talented cast, makes for a truly entertaining experience, invoking amusement and suspense from the players.
The visuals are arguably the most important elements of this game. The art and the movements make the game feel and look like a living storybook. When a character moves from one location to another, it feels like a reader turns the pages of a book. But what makes Broken Age different from reading a book is that there are obstacles that the players must overcome before they can progress through the story. Challenging puzzles await Shay and Vella, and they can only offer hints to the player. My advice is to listen to the hints and use those to work through the difficult parts of the game.
This is a game that I strongly recommend to all gamers, particularly fans of hidden object games and fans of solving puzzles. This indie is also perfect for fans of Psychonauts, as both games were published by Double Fine Productions and have many features in common. Finally, I encourage young adults to play the game at least once, as many of the themes should resonate with today’s youth. These themes include: tradition, family, the desire to rebel against both, and the process of forming your own identity. A truly wonderful experience waits for you in Broken Age.
Link to Broken Age’s steam page