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.