It’s been over two years since the first Broken Age act released, and I really enjoyed the short little romp through Double Fine’s point-and-click adventure. They magically brought together two stories that seemed to have nothing to do with one another, and revealed their relations in a rather shocking cliffhanger of a twist. Now that it’s been several months later, I can finally see how this all comes together and these two protagonists band together and make the world right again.
I most certainly did, and while I absolutely loved how the story came together, I learned to be careful what I wish for. I had said in my original review of the first act that it was rather short at 4 hours and I was ready for something meatier. They gave me a meaty experience at over double the hours of game time, but the meatiness was a facade covering up hours of frustrating back-and-forth traveling over the same areas and obfuscated puzzles that are anything but whimsical and fun.
The puzzles in act one were obscure, as Double Fine has been wont to do, but in act two, they were downright bizarre. In addition, act two required the player to jump back and forth between the two characters in order to solve puzzles. For example, each character would come across a Hexipal they would have to rewire in order to get the Hexipal to perform certain tasks. The clues to how to rewire the little guys could only be found in their counterpart’s story. I have a feeling that the thought process was to get players to play until they were stuck to trigger them to switch to the next character, find that wayward clue, and then jump back. That would have worked really well if you had to do that with the first act, but you did not. I wasted so much time running back and forth between the different areas and re-talking to people and presenting them with different objects at different times in hopes the clue would come to light before I finally gave up and switched to the other character. Oh so something Vella and only Vella sees will clue Shay in on how to wire his Hexipal? Makes complete sense since they’re in two completely different parts of the world.
The puzzles are also far more complex this time than they were in the first act, which makes sense, yet it adds to the frustration I experienced jumping into act two fifteen months after the first act. Tim Schaefer did recommend that all players play act one immediately before act two, and I think that would have alleviated the “jumping in feet first” feeling I had within the first five minutes. However, using act one as a warm-up would not have prepared me for the insanely obtuse logic required to solve many of the puzzles. I realize that this is part of the appeal of these games ala Monkey Island, but the charm wears off rather quickly. Yes, yes, it’s adorable that I need to use a fork and some yarn to get the spaceship’s navigation system up and running, but after the fifth absolutely insane and obfuscated puzzle solution, it’s no longer adorable. It’s an utter beating, and all you want is for the madness to end and end quickly.
I hated being so down on the game when so much else is incredibly charming, but these are not the types of point-and-click adventures I want to see return to the mainstream. A new King’s Quest game is supposed to release rather soon, and I hope they stick to their formula, which was always outside of the box but never overly obtuse.
You can read the rest of my review on Action Trip.