Broken Age

Common Sense Media says

Witty story with memorable characters and good message.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Several good messages are embedded within the strange and twisty narrative, having to do with diversity, equality, and strength of will. Primary characters of varying gender and skin color repeatedly stand up for and do what they believe is right, despite the counterinfluences of those around them. 

Positive role models

The two main characters exhibit several admirable qualities. A young woman takes it upon herself to save her own life and fight back against the creature to whom she's to be merrily sacrificed by her family and community. A young man, meanwhile, decides that he wants his too-safe life to be more meaningful and takes it upon himself to undertake activities that make a difference, even if they're dangerous. Both are acting with honorable and courageous intention.

Ease of play

This is a simple point-and-click game. All players need to do is click to move, select dialogue choices, and interact with specific characters or objects. Puzzles never get too tricky, and plenty of good hints are scattered throughout the dialogue for attentive listeners. Kids having trouble should be able to make their way through simply by trial and error and seeing which items interact with which characters and objects.

Violence

A monster appears to suck up maidens via tube-like tentacles before depositing them in its gaping maw. There is a bird's-eye view of a short fight in which a death ray strikes an enormous creature multiple times. No blood or gore is ever shown. 

Sex

One character makes passing reference to an "affair."

Language

A character uses the word "hard-ass" once.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • persevering
  • perspective taking

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The narrative is captivating from the get-go, drawing players in with clever and interesting dialogue and beautiful, hand-drawn visuals. Kids won't want to quit. 

Learning Approach

Kids will get a chance to solve contextual puzzles while learning from the actions of the game's smart, courageous, and diverse protagonists, who buck expectations and act according to their consciences.

Support

Kids click on what looks interesting and end up progressing as a result. No instructions are provided. Fan-made walkthroughs are readily available online if players get stuck on a puzzle.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • developing resilience
  • persevering
  • perspective taking

Kids can learn about establishing principles and acting according to their beliefs in the face of antagonism while practicing their puzzle-solving skills in this beautifully made point-and-click adventure. The game’s instantly engaging story puts players in the shoes of a pair of young people who need to make hard decisions that go against what’s expected of them. At best, kids will learn that sometimes it’s important to follow your instincts and do what you know to be right. Broken Age is almost more story than game, but the messages are applicable to players of almost all ages. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Linux, Mac, Windows
Price:$24.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Double Fine Productions
Release date:January 26, 2014
Genre:Adventure
Topics:Great boy role models, Great girl role models

This review of Broken Age was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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