Broken Age Act 2

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Broken Age Act 2 Game Poster Image
Maddeningly difficult adventure with strong role models.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Promotes healthy cynicism, especially when facts don't seem to add up. Skewers notion of blindly following tradition, rules without thinking for yourself, considering consequences.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Strong female, male protagonists demonstrate independent thought, bravery, ability to solve problems almost always without resorting to violence.

Ease of Play

Puzzles are maddeningly difficult, often seem to defy reason. There's no way to lower the difficulty, seek help in the game.

Violence

A yarn creature is spun apart, never to be knit whole again. A couple of human characters battle briefly with sticks without really hurting each other; two others punch each other a few times. A beloved robot gets caught in a meltdown, is destroyed.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Broken Age Act 2 is the downloadable second half of a point-and-click adventure game. The story revolves around a young woman in a village and a young man on a spaceship who decide to question what they've been taught, pitting their lives on a bizarre collision course. Both characters demonstrate strength of will, courage, and the confidence to trust their instincts and the evidence around them in the face of strong opposition. They rarely resort to violence, save in a couple of cases when they hit other characters. Instead, they spend the bulk of their time solving contextual puzzles. Parents should know in advance, though, that these puzzles can be confounding in their difficulty, often requiring an extraordinary amount of time-consuming trial and error.  

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What's it about?

BROKEN AGE ACT 2 is the conclusion of Broken Age, the two-part story of Vella and Shay, a young woman and a young man whose paths intersect after both choose to defy their expected roles. At the end of the first act, players learn that Shay's ship was actually the monster that people in Vella's world feared, and after the ship crashes, the two heroes switch places. The second act picks up with Vella exploring the broken ship, understanding slowly growing on her as she continues her quest to ensure the monster never bothers her people again. Shay, meanwhile, explores Vella's curious world, interacting with all the characters Vella met during her adventure. As in the first act, players spend their time chatting with nonplayer characters to advance the story and collecting items that must be used in the right place or combined in the right way to solve contextual puzzles. It's possible to switch between the two heroes at will, and there are times when it's necessary for Vella and Shay to cooperate and accomplish larger tasks.

Is it any good?

The first act of Broken Age hit all the right notes, offering up a compelling and witty story filled with complex characters, empowering messages, and just the right amount of weight placed on a handful of relatively simple puzzles. Unfortunately, the second and concluding act loses much of its predecessor's magic. Most of the characters are still appealing, and the dialogue remains frequently funny, but our heroes have lost their dynamism. And in place of smart allegories and clever twists we've been given a straightforward adventure with a predictable, one-dimensional villain to struggle against.

Perhaps worse, the puzzles have grown exponentially in opaqueness. It's often incredibly difficult to work out what to do or how to proceed. And when -- after seemingly endless mindless attempts to drag random items onto various characters and objects to make something happen -- you eventually stumble upon a solution, you'll likely be left wondering how or even if you could have figured it out through any semblance of logic. It's basically six or seven hours of trial-and-error play punctuated by snippets of giggle-inducing conversation. This frustrating second act is a disappointing conclusion to a two-part game that began with immense potential.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about role models. How do the male and female characters in this game compare with one another? What traits do they share, and which of their qualities is unique?

  • Families also can discuss screen time. How can you balance the time you need to spend on figuring out the puzzles of the game with spending a ton of time playing the game?

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