Broken Age: Act 2
Broken Age: Act 2 is an amazing adventure filled with great writing and fantastic puzzles.
In the end, it's the surface details - the dry and gentle wit, the winsome voice acting, and the gorgeous design - that lash it all together. The deeper elements, the bones that might give it structural strength, feel thin. Broken Age doesn't quite suffer the fate implied by its title, but there are clearly fractures that time has failed to heal.
Whether you're new to the journey or playing to see how it ends, Broken Age is a wonderful coming-of-age tale that's worth the trip
Broken Age: Act II solves nearly all of the sins of the first half of the game while stumbling into a fair share of new ones.
Together, Broken Age Acts 1 and 2 make a solid game that players will look back on fondly. Unfortunately, the second act doesn't live up to the promise of the first. Themes are dropped, puzzles seem a bit more obtuse, and the environments feel like a retread of the first act.
Broken Age: Act 1 was so perfect that perhaps my expectations were inflated when playing through the second half. However, despite the challenges Broken Age is still very much a beautiful game with a heartwarming story. The puzzles, as frustrating as they are, come from a place of creative invention that defines the point-and-click genre. I choose to treasure its high points-- the charming characters, ingenious dialogue, and silly childlike whimsy.
Ultimately, this second act makes Broken Age whole, and it's more than worth your time to play and enjoy Tim Schafer's return to the genre in full. Yet, after such a long wait, it's a shame to see that Broken Age's second act, while continually beautiful and charming and with much more challenging puzzles, doesn't quite manage to live up to the promise from the end of the first.
Despite these complaints, the character and tone of Broken Age are hard to resist. Act two may not capitalize on the potential of act one, but there are still plenty of moments that can bring a smile to your face or cause you to laugh-out-loud. Even at its worst, the world is a pleasure to be a part of, putting Broken Age in one of the most frustrating positions. There's already a lot of goodness within it, but it's almost impossible not to think of what it could have been.
Ultimately, there's more meat on the second act's puzzle bones, especially due to a memorable final-blast puzzle, and while the game's ending was more of a whimper than a bang—and it included some cockamamie ways to tie up the plot's loose ends—I appreciated the restraint on the writers' part to not force melodrama or melancholy on what eventually transpired. This game is the story of two young people who face the ups and downs of throwing off the shackles of youth—and it's also about their family and loved ones being there the whole way through.
Act 1 was just an appetizer. Act 2 is the meaty main course that defines Broken Age — and not just because it finishes the story. It's where Double Fine let loose and went crazy with the puzzles (and the complex train of thought you need to solve them). It's where characters I previously thought were only there for a joke or two became much more important. It's where Shay's and Vella's rebellion against their preordained fates turned into a cause that is much bigger than themselves.