So there’s this game called Broken Age that came out five years ago. It’s a point-and-click adventure game, which means you have an interactive story that moves along as you solve puzzles. It has gorgeous two-dimensional art, a fantastic story, superb voice acting, and a live score featuring the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a small ensemble of San Francisco musicians. In short, it is a marvelous game and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it until recently. (Come on, Big Brother, if you’re going to violate my privacy and use consumer algorithms to inundate me with ham-fisted advertisements, you should probably have figured out what games I like by now.)
Bubs and I really enjoy playing adventure games together, and I have to say, the story dragged us in the moment we came to the opening split-screen: a girl named Vella, leaning against a tree in a peaceful-looking village on the left, and a boy named Shay in a bed on a spaceship on the right. Whichever character you click on first is the one you start with, but what’s even more fun is that if you change your mind or get stuck on a puzzle you can toggle over to the other character and play on their storyline.
The writing is witty, the world is Hitchhikers Guide-level quirky, and the humor is delightfully dark. Bubs loved it just as much as I did. It has ice-cream avalanches, friends made out of yarn, a “Maiden’s Feast” where the maidens ARE the feast, peach trees in the sky, hipster woodsmen, boa constrictors, a cult leader voiced by Jack Black, talking spoons that are really enthusiastic about their job, and lots and lots of mysteries.
It took Bubs and I about seven hours to complete the game together, and it stayed awesome all the way to the end. As a matter of fact, the next day Bubs picked it right back up and started all over again because he loved the story and gameplay so much.
That said, it had a few cons. The biggest drawback was that there was no way we could have completed the game without looking up hints and sometimes even walkthroughs. There were a couple of puzzles we had to pull out a paper and pencil for, and I can’t decide if that was more fun or less fun.
Since I’m recommending this game from a family-friendly perspective, I should mention that there’s some crude humor. Characters say, “Oh my God” throughout the game, which irritated me. A character is stuck in a tree by his underwear at one point, which Bubs found HILARIOUS, and I thought was fun. But there were some comments that went over Bubs’ head that got an eye-roll from me. Example: Shay solves a puzzle using a toy called “Grabbin’ Gary,” and when it works, he comments that “It’s so good to be grabbed by a professional.” There were some similarly inappropriate remarks made by the talking silverware.
That said, those are the only drawbacks I can think of, and as for me and Bubs, the problems never got in the way of us thoroughly enjoying the game. I’d say that the pros completely and totally outweigh the cons. The hand painted art makes the whole thing feel like an animated picture book, the story consistently surprised and delighted me, the humor was spot-on 90% of the time — and even crossed into laugh-out-loud territory on several occasions, the music was lovely and worked as a perfect soundtrack, and the voice-acting brought so much life and personality to the characters (Elijah Wood voices Shay, which was so much fun; but the actress behind Vella, Masasa Moyo, was my favorite.)
Overall, if you enjoy adventure games and weird-yet-lovable things, this game is an absolute treasure.
If you’re not convinced yet, check out this trailer:
Thanks for coming on this journey with me.