Dissecting “Broken Age”

“Broken Age” is an incredible game. As a fan of the point-and-click game, I’ve played my fair share (though not as many or nearly as varied as others in my experience), and with these experiences in mind I was ready to tear this game apart technically and aesthetically.

While the game has standard controls, clicking to move and clicking on objects to examine or interact with them, the layout of the game itself is more open. There is a feeling of immersion in the world that is not normally seen in games like this, either due to the size of the character on screen or the design of the user interface (the UI). “Broken Age” does a masterful job of making the game feel both big and intimate.

The art style works doubly-well with the game itself, giving hints of mood and grandeur to an otherwise two-dimensional form of game. With the lack of a conventional UI cluttering the screen and a gorgeous art design, the game immediately grabs at the player with sites and sounds that immerse. There’s always something going on around the two protagonists, and it’s worth looking into.

Everything almost looks like it was water-colored.

As for the UI itself, a small arrow in the bottom left corner that the player can click to reveal all of the items possessed at the time, the only complaint that can be given is that clicking and holding an item to use it on something is a little cumbersome. Not so much that it distracts from gameplay or enjoyment, but more so that you’re more likely to forget that you have to do that if you’re a point-and-click veteran. In games past, the player simply clicked on the item and it was used as the cursor, but perhaps I haven’t played anything new recently and this could be a common mechanic.

Speaking of clicking on things and using items, a more obvious system is used to show the player just what they’re interacting with. The mouse cursor changes when it is over something that can be examined or picked up or touched. This is a stroke of genius because in games past there was no way of knowing whether or not something was just background art or actually an item or plot point.

That being said, when holding an item, anything that you can use it on glows as you hover over it. Again, a nice little aid to ensure that you’re using it on the right location in case you were worried about being imprecise.

All the character designs are extremely well-done.

Story is a touchy subject because I feel I can’t explain too much of it without giving things away. Instead, what I will say is that the dialogue is witty, cute, funny and surprisingly accessible to all ages without pulling any punches.

While “Broken Age” is still classified as a beta, I can honestly say that this is much more of a game than most betas and early-access titles that are available to gamers these days.

I did encounter a crash during a sequence and I have noticed some graphical glitches (which could be my overly picky eyes now that I am a quality-assurance tester myself), but nothing to make me feel like this product is so unfinished that it didn’t deserve to be given to the public.

If this is what the game is like and it’s not even the full version, I am chomping at the bit to see how it ends and what other fantastic things I can do. It perfectly captures the wonder and hilarity that point-and-clicks are so good at delivering and the nostalgia is palpable. Well done, Double Fine. Well done.