Game Analysis: Broken Age: Act 1


Many apologies for my hiatus. But I’m still around and thinking about games! In a rare occurrence I also recently finished one! The game is Broken Age by the amazing Double Fine. I think Double Fine’s strength is their writing, so an adventure game like Monkey Island or their own work Grim Fandango seems like a perfect fit.

And indeed it was! Unfortunately I also discovered that I am just not a fan of point-and-click adventure games. I just feel like I would have enjoyed Broken Age more as a movie than I did as a puzzle. Perhaps it’s because the puzzles felt easy and the only thing which consumed my time was traveling from room to room (load screens). The dialogue also felt odd when I didn’t choose options from the top of the dialogue option list. The conversations very much felt like they were written for a specific sequence.

But maybe the issue was just that the game was short/incomplete (episode two is coming out later) and that the puzzles were very straightforward and often only required the use of a single item. Maybe I would have enjoyed the game more if more of the puzzles involved the use or combination of multiple items. I say this because the mechanic of utilizing things found in your environment to solve problems is very fitting for the stories. Even then though, the puzzles might still be too easy as the few times I was stumped I just started clicking things together to see if anything could happen. This also happened every time I entered a new room as I would just click on everything to see if anything was harvest-able as a useable item for later.

So maybe the roots for something amazing were there. Because I did enjoy the writing and the visuals. It was just the part that made it a game and not a movie that didn’t quite hold my attention. Because the puzzles were so straightforward they weren’t really interesting except for the written comedy of it. This might not have been as much of an issue if the game were longer as easy puzzles are great for letting the player interact with the story, but not get stuck and be unable to witness the complete narrative.

Really I just wish Double Fine would start making cartoons, because that might fit their strengths even more. That or they need to let their imaginative natures take over in their puzzle design. Too many of the current puzzles were square holes with square pegs instead of square holes with no square peg in sight, but maybe if I fiddled with the whatasamajig and attached it to the baublething I could maybe get a squareish shape. Though that may already be taken care of in Broken Age: Act 2, which is also why I’m not sure how harshly to critique the overall design and execution of game mechanic, since the game is technically incomplete. Whatever the case may be if you enjoy simple point-and-click games, you should give it a shot.  But if you’re like me and prefer to feel a bit more involved, then maybe go back and dust off a copy of Psychonauts, because Double Fine did some amazing work with that one.


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