Time for another review from me! So, here is Broken Age -- Tim Schäfer's first true Point n' Click adventure since Grim Fandango. It's been a while but it's amazing to see him return to the form. This is his hometurf and what he does best. But does it hold up to his usual standard. I'd certainly say so. Now some may say that the game's puzzles (which adventure games are so famous for) are fairly straigtforward. To a degree, they are, but I found myself thinking a bit every now and then.
Disregarding all that -- The comedy and charm is as strong as ever -- You play as 2 characters this time, in 2 different settings, but both of them are related to the other in some way, which you'll discover as you play. First of we got Mr. Frodo, going by the name of Shay, who's a rather ordinary teenage boy, trapped in what most 10-12 year old boys might consider a Utopia, but Shay considers it a dull routine of nightmarish proportions.. because everything is done for you (You know, like how the gaming industry of today is -- Hurr, hurr) or in other words, just dull (like how we all felt during our mid-teens). Shay gets to live in futuristic space-ship, alongside an overprotective AI Motherbrain, who sees to his every needs (Feeding him with a spoon, tucking him in bed, turn every day adventure into easy mode --lol--). His life is basically devoid of excitement in an otherwise adventurous-looking setting -- Shay, getting bored of this ridiculous pretense, decides to flee from it, and accept an invitation from an ominous looking wolf-dressed man named Marek, ready to show him the true hardships of life and how sucky it can be sometimes. Meanwhile in a rural village is our other protagonist, Villa, who's just about ready for the traditional Maiden's Feast, involving her getting eaten by a Lovecraftian monstrosity. Neat.
In true Tim Schäfer style, all of the characters feel and act rather mundane but to an absurd degree. They all seem to think of the Maiden's Feast as an exciting celebration, like it was Christmas, despite it revolving around sacrificing innocent girls to be eaten by a cosmic monstrosity. Villa being the protagonist, asks what we are all thinking.. "Why the bleeding hell don't we just kill the damn thing?". But no, that would be going against a tradition that no one seems to bother changing because new things are scary, just like in real life -- And there you got it.
So as the tentacle beast devours the Maidens, Villa being the only rational human being left, decides to flee and learn how to kill the monster and save her village. It doesn't take long 'till Villa comes across an array of interesting caricatures, whom she has to help in order to proceed -- Among my favorites is the rather 'baked' lumberjack fellow named Curtis & the leader of the Cloud society, Meriloft, voiced by Jack Black.
True to its adventure roots, the game has various interpretations of keys for various interpretations of doors, which the player has to figure out in order to proceed. The puzzles are definitely still there but they are not at the league of more complex puzzles like that of the Silent Hill 2-3 games or older Schäfer adventures. What really sells this game is the humor, the characters, the artwork and especially the music. It's all very, very, gorgeous and this is how Adventure games are done -- Where Schäfer shines and Telltale does not. It's recommended to do Shay's story first, then finish it with Villa since her story is a bit longer. An actual negative I can give about the game is the fact that what you're getting isn't the whole game -- Act 2 is still in the making, but it'll be for free whenever, and thus obviously the game ends on a cliff-hanger, but an intriguing one nevertheless. Lastly, I musn't forget.
On the audio side you might notice the voicing talents of Jennifer Hale, Will Wheaton, Jack Black (returning from previous Double Fine game Brütal Legend and of course Elijah Wood himself -- Mr. Frodo). All of them do a superb job of enriching the adventure game experience by adding their sharp voices to the humor. Schäfer's voice director has done a splendid job to utilize all of the famous voices correctly. So a thumbs up for that and you'll have to forgive me for not mentioning the other voices, because there are certainly a few noteworthy ones. From a spaceship with talking cutlery, to a cloud society of sky people living with birds -- What you're getting is the Tim Schäfer experience that you'll recognize. So if enjoyed previous Double Fine games or the old LucasArts adventures, then don't cheat yourself out of this experience. While the game isn't complete yet, it is still very much worth it. But it might adviceable to wait a bit before one delves into it when the whole game is complete.
Posted: February 22nd, 2014