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Broken Age

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Rating: 4.4/5 (52 votes)
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Broken Age - Act 1

DoraNote: Currently, only the first act of Broken Age is available. Act two will be provided as a free download for you later this year when you buy the game. This review is based on Act One.

As gorgeous, surreal, and darkly whimsical as a storybook come to life, the first act of Double Fine's point-and-click adventure game Broken Age captivates. If you feel like there are an overabundance of video-game funding projects these days, you can blame Broken Age for that, since its original Kickstarter funding two years ago was such a staggering success that studios, fledgling and veteran alike, couldn't help but sit up and take notice. The initial funding goal was four hundred thousand dollars, not a small amount in itself, but by campaign end the game had taken in over three and a quarter million dollars, so to say expectations are high is a bit of an understatement. I have raised expectations when I pay more than two dollars for a cup of coffee. So does the game live up to those standards? Well... sh'yeah. Mostly.

Broken Age - Act 1The controls should be familiar to anyone who's played a point-and-click game before. Just click to interact, and click the arrow in the bottom left corner to open your inventory, which will allow you to drag objects from it onto anything onscreen to try to use them. From the inventory menu, you can also click the character portrait on the far right, which will let you swap between the two main characters. [ESC] opens the menu, where you can manually save your game or change the options. Throughout the game, you'll play as two characters. Vella is a young girl expected to perform a dubious honor for her village, along with a batch of other eligible young maidens, and all the cakes and pies in the world can't hide the rotten truth. Shay lives aboard a space station where the only other residents are devoted automatons that treat him like a child, and though each day blends into the next, he discovers he might have more choice than he thought if he can force a change. They've never met, and neither even has any idea the other exists, but they are both about to shake up their worlds in a big way.

Broken Age - Act 1Analysis: Broken Age is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful and cinematic adventures to come along in a long time. The game is devoted to its storytelling as a visual art, and everything from its expressive character designs to its backgrounds, both in and out of the many cutscenes, are a wonder to behold. Of course, the stellar voice acting doesn't hurt either, and Broken Age features everyone from Elijah Wood and Masa Moyo to Wil Wheaton and Jack Black. The world building is initially on the whole rather light, and it can feel like the game is sort of just shuttling you from one strange scenario to another. Cloud cult? Fish maidens? Overly clingy AI system? Warriors turned bakers? It's all very interesting, but none of it really seems to have much to do with anything as a whole until late in the game. It makes Broken Age a very character driven experience, and considering how much the cast shines with personality, that ain't a bad thing.

Broken Age - Act 1The writing is, as you'd expect from Double Fine, absolutely top-notch and funny far more often than not, though there is a fair amount of adult or crude innuendo. Where a lot of games focus on self-sacrifice, Broken Age deals with standing up for yourself rather than just doing what's expected of you, of knowing that caring about other people doesn't mean just taking things as they happen. Being brave enough to look for other options even when someone tells you there are none... or even just thinking about yourself and what you want for a change. Despite these interwoven themes, however, you'll still spend a lot of time wondering how, exactly, Vella and Shay's adventures come together, since their settings are so vastly different and they aren't even aware of one another. As mentioned, it feels like there's very little actual world building going on, so while you have a sense of the characters and the story they're trying to tell, you don't really get much of a feel for where all this is taking place apart from merely "somewhere weird". Broken Age had a chance to create an entirely new universe that felt distinctive and whole and unique, and it didn't really do that, largely because the lore is sort of shoved off to one side and the characters and their cultures seem to have little to do with one another in a way that would have brought the setting to life as much as the characters within it.

Broken Age - Act 1Broken Age's gameplay is as traditional as you can get for a point-and-click game, which means you're going to do a lot of clicking things on other things to see if they make new things or open other things for you to do. Though the logic can seem a little weird, as most adventure games do, Broken Age actually feels a little on the easy side simply because of the way it's structured. Options and items tend to be limited enough for most of the game that you'll run into the correct solution eventually, but the game is also fairly good at dropping little hints as to what everything does or everyone needs. Some item combinations or uses are weird, sure, but so is the whole setting, and once your brain starts working within that context you'll find yourself moving along at a rapid pace. It's not unenjoyable by any means, but it's also not anything I ever really found myself challenged by, and I found myself wishing for more substantial or challenging puzzles to really engage my brain the way the story and characters did. It's a strange complaint to make since Broken Age was originally funded as a "classic point and click adventure", and yet Broken Age is significantly easier and more straight-forward than the lion's share of classic point-and-clicks, to the part where it more closely resembles a modern adventure game such as, say, The Walking Dead in execution.

None of that means Broken Age is a bad game. Quite the opposite. As you'd expect from Double Fine, it's stunning, funny, thoughtful, and engaging in all the right places. Playing through the entire thing at a leisurely pace took me close to four hours, and while I firmly believe that for me personally the quality is worth the price of admission, for others the game's $25.00USD price tag coupled with the comparative brevity might give them pause, at least until the second act is released later this year. That's a personal decision you'll have to make for yourself. What I can tell you is that, quibbles aside, Broken Age is an absolutely masterfully crafted cinematic experience that's as well written as it is beautiful to look at, and for as long as it lasted, I didn't want to pull myself away from it. Time will tell how the final act ties everything together later this year, but in the meantime, Broken Age still captivates and delights.

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Walkthrough Guide

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Broken Age Act 1 Walkthrough

Instructions/General Information

  • Move around by clicking when the cursor is a cross.

  • The slotted circle indicates an area/object you can interact with.

  • To examine an inventory item, click it once to turn the cursor into a magnifying glass, then click again to examine it.

  • To use an item, drag it from your inventory to the person/object you wish to use it on.

  • To combine two inventory items, drag one onto the other.

  • There is no way to get stuck or die, so neither saving early nor saving often is necessary.

  • There are a few times that there are 'timed' actions, but you will always be given more chances to try again.

  • You can switch between Vella and Shay by clicking the other's face in the inventory.

  • [SPACE] will skip a cutscene/length of dialogue.

  • [ESC] will bring up the menu (and pause the game).

  • If you get stuck, talk to people! The ones with important information will always repeat it for you.

Main Walkthrough

You must first pick to play as Vella (left) or Shay (right). You choice doesn't matter, and you'll be able to switch between the two during play.

Waking Up

  1. Click to wake up, otherwise it'll happen automatically.

  2. Click the girl to speak to her.

  3. Click on the house to go inside.

  4. Once inside, click the darkness to step in.

Finding the Ceremonial Knife

  1. Collect the towel off the table on the bottom.

  2. Collect a cupcake.

  3. Talk to Grandpa Beastender.

    1. Select "Hey, Gramps. Want a cupcake?".

    2. Exit out of the conversation tree.

  4. Use the cupcake on Grandpa Beastender.

    1. Select "Split it with you?".

    2. Collect the ceremonial knife.

  5. Head towards the back of the room and use the ceremonial knife on Vella's mom.

Surviving the Maiden's Feast

  1. Speak to each of the other girls. Vella's grandma will then summon Mog Chothra.

  2. Speak to the girl in purple on Vella's right.

    1. Select "Hey, can I have a drink of that water?".

    2. You will acquire a corset.

  3. Speak to the girl on Vella's right again.

    1. Select "Can I borrow that bottle one more time?".

    2. You acquire a bottle.

  4. Speak to the girl on Vella's left.

    1. Select "Want to TRADE something for a bite of that drumstick?".

    2. Select "How about something bubbly to wash it down?".

  5. Give the towel to the other girl.

  6. Use the corset on the bird.

  7. Use the ceremonial knife on Vella's dress.

Returning Jessie's Egg

  1. Speak to the two guys in the middle.

    1. Select "Who's Jessie?".

    2. Select "Why shouldn't I talk to Jessie?".

    3. Select "Poor Jessie! Where did her egg go?".

    4. Select "Any idea where I can find Jessie's egg?".

    5. Exit the conversation tree.

  2. Speak to the woman on the platform.

    1. Select "Sorry!".

    2. Select "You can't make hats without a knife?".

    3. Select "You make shoes out of clouds?".

    4. Select "Area?".

    5. Select "Hey, can you make ME a pair of cloudshoes?".

    6. Select "Why don't you use your teeth?".

    7. Exit the conversation tree.

  3. Leave the platform and head to the path on the right.

  4. Speak to the girl.

    1. Select "What are you doing exactly?".

    2. Select "How do you get to the eggs in the high nests?".

    3. Select "Hey, can I borrow your ladder?".

    4. You acquire a ladder.

    5. Exit the conversation tree.

  5. Use the ladder on the nest above the platform to the right of M'ggie.

  6. Collect the ceremonial knife and get off the nest.

  7. Return to the crossroads to the left.

  8. Head down the ladder in the middle.

  9. Speak to the girl on the swing.

    1. Select "I really like your outfit!".

    2. Select "Did you say something about shoes?".

    3. You acquire a pair of cloudshoes.

    4. Exit the conversation tree.

  10. Use the cloudshoes on Vella.

  11. Head back up the ladder to the crossroads.

  12. Walk up to Jessie's nest and use the ladder on it.

  13. Follow the path to the left.

  14. Walk toward the tree and fall down the hole at the trunk.

  15. Walk to the left to speak with Gus.

    1. Select "Why would Jessie's egg need cleaning anyway?".

    2. Select "Mind if I squeeze past you?".

    3. Exit the conversation tree.

  16. Head into the trunk to go back up.

  17. Go left to the low hanging branch and grab it to knock a fruit down.

  18. Walk back, past the tree and fall into the hole to the right of the trunk.

  19. Once Vella's been returned to the tree, fall back down the hole at the trunk.

  20. Go to the right and collect Jessie's egg.

  21. Head back to the left, past the trunk and collect the fruit.

  22. Climb up the tree, then head right to the crossroads.

  23. Give Jessie's egg back to her.

  24. Collect a golden egg.

Getting Down from Meriloft

  1. Head down the ladder off of Jessie's nest and onto the platform by Car'l.

  2. Give Car'l the ceremonial knife (retrieved from the nest by M'ggie).

  3. You acquire large cloudshoes.

  4. Head down the steps and down the path to the right.

  5. Go up the path toward the hatchery.

  6. Use the ladder on the nest with the golden egg.

  7. Combine the large cloudshoes with the ladder.

  8. Use the ladder with large cloudshoes on the nest.

  9. Collect a golden egg and head down the ladder.

  10. Return to the crossroads, then go along the path to the left.

  11. Place an object (it doesn't matter which) in one of the baskets.

  12. Climb up the ladder.

  13. Speak to the snoring man.

    1. Select "Hi!".

    2. Select "Can you help me kill Mog Chothra?".

    3. Select "Hey, are you done with that golden egg?".

    4. Exit the conversation tree.

  14. Once down the ladder, collect the golden egg.

  15. Place each of the golden eggs into the three baskets (you may have to take back whatever item you placed in one to go up the ladder.

    • Location of the golden eggs:

      • Jessie's nest

      • Hatchery beyond M'ggie

      • From Harm'ny

  16. After placing all three eggs, hop on the ladder.

Getting Curtis Some Wood

  1. Examine the stained glass window to acquire the stained glass sun.

  2. Head down the stairs and speak to the man.

    1. Select any line, it doesn't matter.

    2. Select "Will you help me kill Mog Chothra?".

    3. Exit the conversation tree.

  3. Collect the axe on the wall to the right.

  4. Examine the art piece above the mantel.

  5. Speak again to Curtis.

    1. Select "Hey, about this art...".

    2. Select "What is it?".

    3. Select "How do you know it's hanging right side up?".

    4. Select "I like how it matches your decor.".

    5. Exit the conversation tree.

  6. Collect the art piece.

  7. Head right to leave the house.

  8. Go down along the path, then to the right.

    • If you head left and encounter the snake, blow the horn after it's wrapped itself around you.

  9. Use the axe on the tree.

    1. Select “Are you magic? Can you help me kill Mog Chothra?”.

    2. Select “You got a little something in the corner of your mouth.”.

    3. Select “Hey, can I have some of your sap?”.

    4. Select “Why are you so upset?”.

    5. Exit the conversation tree.

  10. Head to the right to Shellmound.

  11. Collect the driftwood near the fishing poles.

  12. Speak to the man on the platform.

    1. Select a line, it doesn't matter which.

    2. Select “Hey, about your bucket hat...”.

    3. Select “It looks great on you! Very fancy!”.

    4. You acquire a bucket.

    5. Select “I need to enter the Maidens Feast!”.

    6. Select “Are you saying I smell bad?”.

    7. Select “Did you say there might not be a Maidens Feast?”.

    8. Select “Why do you build the Offering Arena so close to the ocean?”.

    9. Exit the conversation tree.

  13. Leave Shellmound and head back into Curtis' house.

  14. Give Curtis the driftwood.

  15. You acquire a stool.

Entering the Shellmound Maidens Feast

  1. Head over to the talking tree.

  2. Use the bucket (received from Marshal Dune) on the little branch of the tree.

  3. Use the stool (received from Curtis after giving him driftwood) on the tree.

  4. You acquire a bucket of sap.

  5. Head right to Shellmound and give Marshal Dune the bucket of sap.

  6. Walk off the platform and speak to the girls.

    1. Select “I want to be in the Maidens Feast!”.

    2. Select “Hey, can I have some of that perfume?”.

    3. Select “Hey, can I have some of your Beast Hooker?”.

    4. Select “How about just one little squirt?”.

    5. Select “Don't you guys ever wonder if there's another way?”.

    6. Exit the conversation tree.

  7. Head up the stairs to the right.

  8. Speak to the hooded figures.

    1. Select “Hey, can I get you guys something?”.

    2. Select “Some more holy tear gas?”.

    3. You acquire a squirt gun.

    4. Exit the conversation tree.

  9. Head back down the stairs.

  10. Walk left to the chum trough.

  11. Use the squirt gun on the chum to fill it.

  12. Now use the chum squirt gun on the maidens.

  13. While the girls are distracted, collect the Beast Hooker.

  14. Use the Beast Hooker on Vella.

  15. Speak to Marshal Dune.

    1. Select “I need to enter the Maidens Feast!”.

Finding a Powerful Weapon

  1. Head up the stairs in Shellmound and speak to the hooded figures.

    1. Select “Can I go inside?”.

    2. Select any line, it doesn't matter.

    3. Select “Um, could you remind me how the Riddle of Yorn goes one more time?”.

    4. Exit the conversation tree.

  2. Give the fruit (off the tree in Meriloft) to the figures.

  3. Enter the pyramid.

  4. Use the art piece (above the mantel in Curtis' house) on the pedestal to the right.

    1. Select “Does the ship you mention have any weapons?”.

    2. Select “Can I help?”.

    3. Exit the conversation tree.

  5. Collect the laser coil (the top diamond on the back wall).

  6. Examine the bottom diamond.

  7. Use the stained glass sun (from the upper window in Curtis' house) on the top diamond slot.

  8. Use the laser coil on the bottom slot.

  9. You will acquire a trigger.

Fighting Mog Chothra

  1. After entering in the Maidens Feast of Shellmound and finding a powerful weapon, speak to Marshal Dune to start the feast.

  2. After the other girls have been eaten, drag the trigger on Mog Chothra to fire it up.

  3. One at a time, shoot out three of Mog Chothra's legs.

  4. Allow Mog Chothra to pick up Vella with the last remaining leg.

  5. After Vella has been lifted, use the ladder on its mouth.

  6. With its mouth open, fire inside.

  7. This is the end of Vella's half.


Going through the Missions

  1. Click to wake up Shay (he will otherwise continue to sleep).

  2. Through the conversation trees, select the cereal you want. Your choice does not matter and if you say 'no' to all, you will be forced to eat the last one.

  3. Collect the spoon.

  4. Use the spoon on the cereal.

  5. Select "Let's catch that runaway train!".

  6. Click the Bridge Man to wake him up.

  7. After the orange guy has let go of the track, click the Bridge Man again so Shay will fall to his doom!

  8. Or not...

  9. You acquire a tool.

Helping Out Marek

  1. While in bed, after Shay's nasty train spill, click to get him up.

  2. Walk to the right and collect the air tank next to the vent.

  3. Use the tool (received from the wolf after the train accident) on the vent to the right of the "Missions Cancelled" screen.

  4. Collect the inflatable object from the opened vent.

  5. Use the air tank on the inflatable object to acquire a blow up doll.

  6. Use the blow up doll on Shay's bed.

  7. Go back and enter the opened vent.

  8. You acquire the Talon Nebula star chart.

  9. Enter the left vent as pointed out by Marek.

  10. Give the Space Weave the star chart.

  11. Return to Marek and speak to him.

  12. Click the green button to lower the shields.

  13. Click the red button when the arm is over the creature.

  14. Using the radar, press the necessary arrow keys to position yourself over the next creature.

  15. You acquire the Danger System 5 star chart.

  16. Head back to the Space Weaver and give him the star chart.

  17. Return to Marek and play the creature mini-game as before.

Taking Back Control of the Ship

  1. Head into the vent in your room to visit Marek.

  2. Speak to Marek.

    1. Select "The distress call was from Prima Doom? How do we get there?".

    2. You acquire the Prima Doom star chart.

    3. Select "How are we going to take down the shields?".

    4. You acquire the Omicron Inhibitor.

    5. Select "How are we going to get control of the ship's cargo boom arms?".

    6. Exit the conversation tree.

  3. Head left and through the doorway to Marek's room.

  4. Continue left to the Hall of Heroes.

  5. Collect the blue baby spacesuit and baby helmet.

  6. Open the red teleporter and enter. Hey, your head's shrunk (this is important)!

  7. Head to the left to the command center.

  8. After speaking to 'Mother', contine left and into the doorway there.

  9. Enter the first door, into the galley.

  10. collect the knife off the table in the forefront.

  11. Exit and return to the Nexus (second door from the right in the command center).

  12. Open the green teleporter and enter.

  13. Go through the door on the left.

  14. Head down the hallway and into the ice cream room.

  15. Click the pipe on the bottom to collect the whipped cream gun.

  16. Exit and go right down the hall to the friendship room.

  17. Speak to the blue guy.

    1. Select "Hey, can we run the attack mission protocol?" (only necessary if Shay hasn't gone through it before).

    2. Speak to the blue guy.

  18. Speak again to the blue guy.

    1. Select "Hey, maybe I can fix your back.".

    2. You acquire a crochet hook.

    3. Exit the conversation tree.

  19. Head back out into the hallway and through the door on the right.

  20. Enter the far right door to the airlock.

  21. Follow the path through the next two doorways.

    1. Once outside, head right down the pathway (these next few steps are only necessary if you didn't complete the spacewalk mission beforehand).

    2. Examine the foreign body attached to the path.

    3. You acquire a present.

    4. After you're back inside, use the present on Shay.

    5. You acquire a Grabbin' Gary robot.

    6. Walk back up to head outside again.

  22. Use the air tank (from the panel in your room) on Shay.

  23. Use the knife (from the galley) on Shay.

  24. Use the whipped cream gun (from the ice cream room) on Shay.

  25. Head up and launch Shay into space!

  26. Move Shay up and over the antennae to the left.

  27. Once near the left wall, continue toward the Boom Arms Manual Control.

  28. Use the knife onthe diamond shape panel above the controls.

  29. Use the Grabbin' Gary robot on the controls.

  30. You acquire the Gary control.

  31. Move back to the right and through the airlock.

  32. Walk down the hallways to the command center.

  33. Head through the nearby door into the Nexus.

  34. Activate the yellow teleporter and step through.

  35. Use the baby helmet on Shay.

  36. Walk left to the Orb Containment Facility.

  37. After receiving the suit, walk through the door and down to the orb.

  38. Use the Omicron Inhibitor (from Marek) on the orb.

  39. Head back through the elevator to the Nexus.

  40. Go left to the command center, then through the red door under the controls to the Space Weaver.

  41. Give the Space Weaver the star chart.

    1. Select "Fine. Cozy Cluster it is."

    2. While the Space Weaver is getting ready to set off, head down the ladder.

    3. Examine the star chart, then use the crochet hook to get the grid to match the chart.

    4. Spots to use the hook:

      • first hexagon, top row

      • third hexagon, middle row

      • first hexagon, bottom row

    5. If you are not able to get it correct in time, simply travel to another place, then have the ship go back to Cozy Cluster.

  42. After the Space Weaver shuts down, head left to Marek.

  43. Speak to Marek and play the capture mini-game one last time (this will be the most difficult, but remember that there are no time limits).

  44. This is the end of Shay's half.

Congrats! You've beat Act 1!

Walkthrough by Kyh!


I feel like the difficulty was the biggest downer for me on this. Not only are your actions fairly limited, but there aren't very many things to click on in many screens. The clues are, in some places, far too blatant. There were several places where I solved puzzles just because I tried to make something happen that somebody told me not to do or did something because somebody facetiously suggested it. That might not have been a problem if there were lots of complicated multi-stage puzzles like in Day of the Tentacle, but Broken Age isn't long enough to meet that criteria.

But I agree, it's got both beautiful art and beautiful animation. The dialogue is well written and the voice actors are excellent. The fact that you don't get an infodump on the setting in more detail actually works in favor of the story, as the game is about being surprised by the strange world inhabited by each of the playable characters and trying to understand how they relate to each other. What it lacks in actual puzzles it makes up for, at least a little bit, in an intriguing story with a strong element of mystery where every step towards the end of the first half only reveals more questions. In the end, it's a great movie but just an okay game without a lot of incentive to replay.

More items (especially red herring items that trigger dialogue but don't solve puzzles), more things to click on, more complicated dialogue trees and more subtle clues to the puzzles would've greatly improved the game's weaknesses.

But maybe the second half will have some meatier puzzles. If you go in expecting an episode of Sam and Max instead of a Day of the Tentacle or Monkey Island you'll probably be alright.


I agree with the general feeling about this - I'm a puzzler (the best game of last year for me by some distance was The Fool & His Money) and this simply didn't deliver. Heck, it made the first part of Broken Sword 5 look like the height of complexity...
But you can see where the money was spent (I was a Kickstarter backer) and that was probably worth it.

Patreon Donator Infant Tyrone February 2, 2014 5:08 PM

I really wish more of these downloadable games offered demos or limited browser play. I happily support indie game developers, but $25 is a fair chunk of dough to spend without knowing what I'm going to get. And with $3.25 million to work with, I don't think a demo is going to break their bank. I suppose that's the appeal of 'freemium' games like Fallen London; if you like it go ahead and throw them some bread.


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