In the idyllic village of Sweet Bunting, Vella is about to have the honour of participating in the Maidens Feast; this, it turns out, involves being sacrificed to a giant monster called Mog Chothra, which must be fed to appease it. There’s plenty of witty dialogue and dark humour, including young maidens desperately trying to outdo each other to make themselves more alluring to the hungry Mog. However, the rebellious Vella manages to escape its slavering jaws and soon finds herself in a village in the clouds, led by an ‘enlightenment’ guru (voiced by Jack Black), which forms the basis for countless jokes.
Meanwhile, Shay (Elijah Wood) is bored to death with his solitary life aboard a spaceship, stifled by overprotective virtual parents. There are shades of The Truman Show in this fake, sanitised setting, as well as Groundhog Day as he’s forced to repeatedly complete phony, childish missions such as rescuing cute knitted ‘yarn pals’ from an ice-cream avalanche and a runaway train.
All of this changes when he manages to break out of the cycle and encounters the mysterious Marek in the bowels of the ship; dressed in a wolf suit, this strange character encourages Shay to hack into the ship’s systems and complete missions to rescue creatures.
All isn’t necessarily as it seems, however, and there are some excellent twists (including one amusing red herring), culminating in the two worlds of the protagonists colliding at the halfway point.
Admittedly, following this denouement, the second act isn’t quite so enthralling, partly due to some recycling of locations and characters. There are also some rather obscure puzzles to solve, which may well prove frustrating.
However, the overall experience of Broken Age is a highly memorable one with plenty of LOL and WTF moments, so it’s definitely a game well worth persevering with.