A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Broken Age is a point-and-click adventure with some admirable messages. It isn't rated by the ESRB, but it contains little iffy content. There are a couple of action sequences in which maidens are scooped up by a monster's tentacles and deposited in its mouth, but there's no blood or gore, and witty dialogue keeps these scenes from being too intense. The vast majority of time is spent in conversation. One character offhandedly mentions an "affair," and another uses the word "hard-ass," but that's the extent of potentially distasteful language. Note, however, that the story's subtle sense of humor and underlying messages are more likely to be better understood and appreciated by kids in their teens rather than younger players.
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What's it about?
BROKEN AGE is an adventure game that tells two stories simultaneously. Shay is a young man living alone on a spaceship run by an overprotective computer that calls itself Mother. It's basically a giant nursery loaded with super safe activities, such as going on a mission to save a group of snugly, knitted creatures from a small avalanche of strawberry ice cream. He's tired of it all. He wants to go on real missions where he accomplishes real good. Vella, meanwhile, is a young woman living in a village that follows a tradition involving the sacrifice of young women to a giant monster that comes calling every 14 years. Perplexed by her family's willingness to let her be gobbled up, she can't help but wonder why no one has ever chosen to fight the monster and save the village's maidens. The two protagonists' stories unfold simultaneously over the course of several hours through point-and-click world investigation, scores of interesting conversations with nonplayer characters, and some fairly simple puzzles. Both are acting with honorable and courageous intention. Worth noting: This is the first part of a two-part game (the second half will release at a later date), and the end is a pretty big cliff-hanger.
Is it any good?
Broken Age is an unusual game for a variety of reasons, not least of which is how it came into being (it's the product of an Internet-based campaign that saw thousands of individual gamers fund its development on Kickstarter). It also has a strange but appealing vibe. Its hand-drawn world and characters are noticeably different from those of most other games, yet it remains very inviting. The subtly droll dialogue, meanwhile, is instantly engaging and marvelously acted by top voice talents, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, and Wil Wheaton. Players are apt to find themselves hanging on each joke, hint, and plot-altering sentence.
The only potential blemish is that it's unlikely to prove particularly challenging for most players. Its contextual puzzles -- find this item, combine it with another item, and then give it to that person -- are generally a snap, and there's virtually no way to get lost while moving along the decidedly linear story. That said, its entertainment value isn't in question. Players who enjoy engrossing and witty stories filled with memorable characters, unexpected narrative twists, and beautifully realized worlds are all but guaranteed a good time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about women in games. Have you played many games with strong female role models who take serious matters into their own hands, cleverly handling tricky situations without relying on others for help? What are some examples?
Families also can discuss what it’s like to play a game that’s virtually all talking. Do you feel the need to be doing more than selecting from a series of dialogue choices? How important is storytelling in a game like this? Do you think games should have more action?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: solving puzzles
Emotional Development: developing resilience, persevering, perspective taking
- Price: $24.99
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Double Fine Productions
- Release date: January 26, 2014
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- ESRB rating: NR
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