Saturday, September 13, 2014

6 days of...Broken Age!

Time well spent

Sometimes it's good just to get back to my roots as a gamer. I loved the Sierra point and click games from the 90's and somewhere in me I will always hold an attachment to those types of games. So when I heard that Double Fine would be releasing a point and click adventure called Broken Age after a VERY successful kickstarter I got excited. I loved Brutal Legends when I first got a taste of Double Fines work and I am definitely going to check some more of their games out after this. 

This is the prison that you have lived in your entire life, and the
game makes you feel this immediately without feeling forced.
Speaking of that Kickstarter, it was setup for 400,000 and made over 3 million. That's just nuts. The dedicated community behind Double Fine games just astounds me. They demand nothing up front because they believe that there will be a quality product coming from the money they donate. That speaks volumes to me about the faith and confidence the community holds in this company. If they decided to go more mainstream I think they could make a lot more money, but they would definitely lose a bit of their following. Too bad though, seeing a Call of Duty style budget go to Double Fine might get some amazing things accomplished.

Anyway, back to my time with Broken Age. I can honestly say it has got some of the most memorable and smooth transitions that I've experienced in point and click adventures. Often playing a point and click is like having a conversation with someone that spoke into a microphone years ago, and is expecting you to respond correctly in the future. It's a difficult disconnect to overcome and many games fall short. An example of this would be adventures that reference or give clues to your next action, but in a much more obscure way than is necessary so the player ends up not understanding.

These portions of the story add incredulity and whimsy
but are engrossing at the same time.
However in Broken Age, it was neither obvious or obscure what action I was to take next. It was a perfect balance of clues and discovery. It felt like the world spoke to me and I responded each time, instead of being led by an overaggressive partner or abandoned to my own means. It was a genuine conversation between developer and player. In which no side came out stronger than another. 

I would attempt to bend the world to my whim, and the game would calmly direct me back to a path that was more fitting. I would push and strain to accomplish seemingly impossible things, and instead of getting frustrated I would just stop and enjoy the scenery. After a short period of time the answer would just come to me through an epiphany not brought on by an obvious hint but seemingly by my own intuition.

Instilling this in a player is a very, VERY difficult thing to do. It is a mystery to me how they did it, but Double Fine made me feel like I was genuinely exploring a new world and overcoming challenges by my own intellect, and not just stumbling along my way through a story. 

That being said the art is incredible. It's not detailed or special by any means, but the washed out pastels and some of the color changes between scenes really sticks out. The art also lends itself to the story because of the environments you find yourself navigating. The art makes each scene look like a children's story, but the story is much darker in context than the pictures would describe. It has a very Grimm feel to it. The story itself is dark and in some ways shocking, but it juxtaposes completely with the optimistic color and youthful art style.

This doesn't give anything away,
but I was frozen in shock at this point of the story.
It's hard to describe in some ways why it is so good, but if you enjoy point and click adventures, you should pick this one up. There will be more episodes soon but for now the game only takes about 5 hours to complete. That is only one episode though and there is at least a second episode promised to add on to the current story.

You'll like this game if: You enjoy point and click adventures and love stylized art an amazing speculative fiction story that will keep you enthralled for hours.

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