HOW WILL YOU escape the control of your protective robot mother? How will you save your village from its tradition of human sacrifice? And what on earth do these two stories have in common?
In Broken Age, you play two characters living seemingly separate lives—a boy who lives on a spaceship, and a girl living in a primitive village. They're seeking answers to those questions, but Broken Age asks one more: In an age of lightning-fast processors and realistic graphics, is there still room for an old-school adventure game, with gameplay that isn't much more complicated than an interactive storybook? The answer is yes.
Broken Age was funded with a $3.3 million Kickstarter, easily winning over gaming nostalgists thanks to the involvement of Tim Schafer, a designer with adventure classics like Monkey Island to back up his cred. And to the relief of Broken Age's backers, the game—with all-ages appeal and a cast featuring Jack Black, Elijah Wood, and Wil Wheaton—is an even more intense adventure experience than the recent, award-winning (and Portland produced) Gone Home. Broken Age's gorgeous, crayon-style art and clever dialogue are evidence of Schafer's focus on story rather than puzzles, and though the game feels like a children's book, it doesn't resort to worn-out tropes: Yes, there's a busy-body traditionalist grandma, but there's also a kickass, multiracial protagonista.
Broken Age's puzzles are on the easy side, but the story is engaging. And though the gameplay is simple for what you'd expect from a big studio these days, think of the game as a huge step up from normal interactive ebooks when it's eventually released for iPad. With a $25 price tag, that's a step up in price, too—but that price includes both acts of the game, from the three-to-four hours included here to the conclusion that's coming in the spring. If Broken Age is any indication, the revival of the old-school adventure genre will continue after that.