Broken Age – Act II

 

Review by · September 2, 2015

Broken Age’s long journey to completion has been divisive for some fans— understandably so, considering how long ago Act I was released and various development bumps in the road. It has been so long, in fact, that the developers actually suggest replaying Act I in order to recap before diving right into Act II. Since I had a shiny new console/handheld version to test out, I promptly did as suggested and played the entire game from start to finish. With the benefit of that experience, I took away three main points. Yes, you should replay the whole game if you haven’t played the first half since last year. Yes, the console/handheld release is a solid port, if a little finicky. Finally, the second half isn’t quite as satisfying as I would have liked. If you haven’t played the original release, I’d recommend taking a look at my Act I review for a more detailed breakdown of the game’s visuals, music, acting, and writing. Act II is functionally identical to its predecessor, and with the exception of some puzzles that skew a little too obtuse, I enjoyed the pointy/clicky as much here as I did the first time around.

You should replay the whole game if you haven’t played the first half since last year.

In terms of aesthetics, the latter half of the game is as sharp as its predecessor. The artwork is colorful and strikes the same fanciful notes as ever. What new music there is showcases Peter McConnell’s talents as well as Act I, and the entire soundtrack is as charming as ever. The voice acting also continues to be a highlight, especially in the case of the absolutely delightful Vella, who remains one of my favorite adventure game protagonists.

I spent the majority of my return trip playing on my Vita, which I found to be a plenty enjoyable way to do so. The game has a few odd instances of skipping or short pauses, but was technically sound overall. The touchscreen controls work well (unsurprising since the game already works on iOS), and I had no occasions of “I can’t click the thing!” that I can recall. The PS4 version is certainly smoother, though I did miss the touch controls in a game most definitely not designed to be played on a gamepad. Nonetheless, with it being a cross-buy title, the version of the game on Sony platforms is a great option for those who either can’t or choose not to play on a PC or touch-device.

I’ll admit that my main reason for being somewhat lukewarm in the end is that the story doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the first half. Shay and Vella are fun, compelling characters, and the switcheroo hinted at the end of Act I plays out without nearly as many shocks or surprises as I had hoped for. That isn’t to say I wasn’t satisfied by the finale— far from it, since more time with these characters is on its own an enjoyable notion— but I expected more in the way of “thrills, chills, and twists!” Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of adventure games or Broken Age Act I, I’d say the full package is an easy sell, since there aren’t many games in the genre with better acting, writing, and polish.


Pros

Great writing, memorable characters, solid voice acting.

Cons

Somewhat middling conclusion, a few weird puzzles.

Bottom Line

The second half doesn't quite live up to the first, but Broken Age is still a journey worth taking.

Graphics
95
Sound
95
Gameplay
85
Control
85
Story
85
Overall Score 89
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Stephen Meyerink

Stephen Meyerink

Stephen used to hang out here, but at some point he was either slain by Rob or disappeared after six hundred straight hours of chanting "I'm really feeling it!" while playing Smash Ultimate. (But seriously, Stephen ran RPGFan Music for a portion of his six years here, and launched our music podcast, Rhythm Encounter.)