The whole process of creating the DFA KS was as much an adventure as the final product was supposed to be. TS promised as much in his initial pitch video and that’s how I perceived it. What I didn’t expect, or at the very least didn’t hope for, was that the process to get there would be more engaging and satisfying than the final product.
With KS it’s always very important to be realistic. I was realistic. Backing means, that you have to be able to live with even the worst case scenario, that they won’t even finish the project. If you can’t, if the risk is too high for you, just don’t.
Coming from that direction, I even could have lived with them not delivering the game at all. I got something out of my pledge that I never expected to get and that was the wonderful documentation they had filmed as a supposed byproduct. My one time pledge kept me entertained over the course of 3 years, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this much out of a sum of this value in my life. The game itself, ultimately, started feeling like a bonus, a long time before I even got the second act.
As far as the story is concerned, I’m sad to say that I have to agree, that it doesn’t live up to the potential of Act 1. The game is now supposed to be complete, but Act 2 makes the game feel as if it was an episodic game like The Wolf Among Us or Life is Strange™ and this is only part 2 out of 5.
Act 2 introduces several new story elements that were only hinted at in Act 1 (and for some even this can’t be claimed) and IMHO doesn’t wrap most of them up. I have no idea if this is supposed to be Double Fine’s definitive take on Broken Age, or if they were trying to hold something back for a possible sequel (and nothing points to that right now).
We learn that most of the plot occurs, because crazy mutants cooked up this scheme to run genetic experiments (pretty tough stuff to just drop it like that) and nothing in this game happens, that could make them stop. As if this wasn’t weird enough, the game ends in front of the hostile stronghold, with the main characters not really caring about any of it. For all we know, the bad guys could show up any second and kill them all (you’d think they’d care about that). In fact they almost would have to, because the protagonists learned the truth and they can’t allow them to tell anyone. The evil mutants even fired upon them and then just suddenly stopped (why?), so they definitely have the power to do it too.
The game ends without Shay and Vella ever speaking one single word to each other, they stay complete strangers. It never came to a scene, that I would have expected, in which they would have to interact with each other – for whatever purpose. All of the characters in the game are so weird. In Act 1 I was totally convinced that Shay’s parents were computers, just like he said. I was almost shocked when Act 2 suddenly introduced them as actual people, I had to wonder if this was retconned, because why would someone write it like this, if it was always intended to show them as real people at some point? They didn’t interact with their own child for such a long time, that Shay had no idea they were people and when he meets them personally for the first time after many years, they don’t really care either and there is no dialog addressing any of this.
All of this left me behind so confused, that I now have no idea what to make of it. If there is any sort of deeper meaning to it, it managed to completely elude me. I have no idea what became of Vella, Shay (their respective families and acquaintances) and the plans of the dangerous mutants. I don’t expect stories to answer everything, but this seems like a little bit too much to just overlook.
The game also features really pretty graphics, extremely noteworthy animations (seriously, no other adventure has so many and fluent animations for the characters) and yet another stellar soundtrack by Peter McConnell.
Cognition is about an FBI agent who has to apprehend a serial killer dubbed Cain because she has a conscience. And of course there is more which makes it personal. She’s also blessed with a kind of supernatural abilities, which make her ideal for the job. It’s important to note, that however cliche this might make the game sound at first, it’s not an issue and everything comes together nicely once ingame.
This game was released in 4 episodes, but apart from that, this is a more classic adventure game, which means the player has to use brains instead of only reacting to QTEs (I just lost my one reader :P). There are sometimes also scenes in which stuff happens like people dying, depending on the player’s performance, so it can pay off to actually try to do well…
I thought the third part was probably the strongest (lots of story and reveals), but after my brain merged all the pieces to a whole, I liked it as such. I think this was the first game (or one of the first games) developed by Phoenix Online, so I have to say this was already quite good.
Several ideas in this game are really ambitious, be it the cognition powers that grow and become more and more elaborate during the course of the game or having the player’s actions result in gaining or loosing trust with certain characters. It absolutely shows that even in the adventure genre, that’s typically not seen as the most innovative field, there are still things that can be done to make it more interesting or fresh, even without affecting classic elements such as inventories or more complex riddles.
The tech might not be the most powerful out there, but I never thought it was affecting the experience in a negative way. The art in cutscenes was even very pretty.
A bigger budget might have been nice anyway (yes yes, I know), because some of the characters (especially thinking of Terrence, as a friend of Erica’s, it would have made sense for him to show up again) just vanish along the way and the reason for this surely wasn’t that they had all the time and developers in the world to do them more justice.
I’d really like to play a continuation, but considering how long this game is already out (and I haven’t read anything), I’d better not hold my breath. :( That won’t keep me from hoping though. :)
But on the bright side, I think I’m ready for Broken Age now. :P
I continue to be impressed by how they make scenes have an impact on me, without forcing me to punish Q and/or E like a madman. I still can’t say that I have a concrete idea as to where they are going with this, but Episode 2 is definitely a satisfying follow up to 1. While waiting for 3, I gladly replayed 2 and still enjoyed it. With the exception of the wonderful TWAU, I have never done this with a TT game. And those really aren’t bad or anything.
This Episode had a few fresh tricks up its sleeve, I thought, I didn’t expect them to play with the rewind power, but they did and it was exactly the kind of smart idea that makes a story/game better. The ending to this Episode was a really powerful moment and I actually cared about the outcome. You can’t demand more.
I just hope that the next Episode will start to reveal a lot more about what is going on and so far was only hinted at. If it’s still going to be extremely vague, they will either have to put everything close to the very end of the season or leave a lot unanswered. While a really intense finale is always welcome, I still hope they choose neither of both paths. Stretching things out a bit more, might turn out to be the bigger boon to the overall season.
It’s a good thing that there are now only a few weeks left until 3 comes out. :)
- +Recreated Malkavian Maze and Warrens Shortcut, thanks EntenSchreck.
- +All four new levels optimized, thanks to atrblizzard and Psycho-A.
- +Improved library quest emails and restored big moon to Ocean House.
- +Made tutorial guard and Luckee Star easter egg vanish after scene.
- +Fixed blood pack appearing in SM haven and Skelter blocking stairs.
- +Improved library and atrium maps and removed Giovanni well spirit.
- +Made it possible to do the cemetery quest after getting Romero fun.
- +Included eye replacer mod, but made it deselectable, thanks Nivea.
- +Added installer option to deselect casting and changed disciplines.
- +Corrected beachhouse dog vanishing and dealing damage after death.
- +Made auto-move and walk/run toggles be definable, thanks to Malkav.
- +Fixed Johansen always following you and Romero’s whore trying too.
- +Made it possible to freely select one of Beckett’s new disciplines.
- +Corrected cabbie sewer animation and Venture Tower elevator issue.
- Repaired Confession cross and restored dance spot, thanks Psycho-A.
- Fixed Plaquebearer quest bug and added all concept arts to Extras.
- Made abandoned warehouse bum leave later if you didn’t talk to him.
- Removed character sheet music overlaying others, thanks Zer0morph.
- Fixed three mirrored keycard backsides and centered the area icons.
- Improved Grout’s wife tube and electronic voices, thanks Psycho-A.
- Fixed hostess, Boris, Phil, Johansen, Gimble and LaCroix dialogues.
- Made Empire Hotel TV unreactive and prevented invincible Cathayan.
- Added museum light, Chinatown newsboxes and fixed minor map issues.
- Moved Knox/Bertram XP to Knox dialogue and added pics reflections.
- Fixed walk-through columns at Venture Tower and warrens reflection.
- Made Igor react to killed allies and heart monitor to dead victim.
- Stopped several dialogue NPCs staying tranced after being fed upon.
- Restored two cool unused lines for Knox and fixed Venus money bug.
- Improved wet reflections and other texture issues, thanks Psycho-A.
- Showed Carson’s finger and fixed Flynn’s eye clip, thanks DDLullu.
- Added mod -game loader and improved SDK, thanks Behar and Psycho-A.
- Improved Blender scripts and added sheet injector, thanks DDlullu.
- Fixed player in Carson cutscene and unlocked door, thanks Psycho-A.