Broken Age Beta Starts Today! [Updated: No more review embargo]

Broken Age, Beta

So, hey, remember how sometimes I periodically mention Broken Age, the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter that funded March of 2012? And how I listed it on my Top 5 Games I’m Really Looking Forward To In The New Year? I mentioned how I wasn’t even sure Broken Age was going to be dropping in 2014. Being almost 2 years since it funded, you can see how I would be worried.

Well, the good people at Double Fine yesterday released an update and posted a date for the beta of Broken Age: Act 1 to start: Today. TODAY?! Well, this is certainly a surprise. I, like a great number of others, will be jumping in head first as soon as I get home. This is great timing as I’ve been on an adventure style gaming kick lately, from the old-school Gabriel Knight to the new indie UnEpic. Putting down one of them isn’t going to be the easiest of feats, but this certainly qualifies as “the new shiny”.

But, see, I hate betas. Most times when I’ve played in a beta, I find I come to dislike whatever game it’s for. For example, I played in the Rift beta and haven’t played Rift since because of it’s beta flaws. I remember the graphics having been terrible, the combat lackluster, and the rifts annoyingly got in the way of the questing! Blargh! But this doesn’t feel like a beta that we’ve come to understand. There are no server load tests. There aren’t any character wipes. They aren’t giving us fake cash to use in the game’s store. They aren’t making it feel like we’re working for them but not getting paid for it. This, instead, feels like the product is complete, and the primary tests will just be for system compatibility. The ins and outs of playing the game itself should be good to go. This feels like a real complete game (or at least Act 1) and so doesn’t feel like I’m just donating my time to them.

Of course, I can’t tell you anything about the game yet. They are releasing a press release today (Though the trailer was posted to YouTube yesterday, having since been rescinded. We all know when you want to keep something secret, posting it to YouTube is the best thing to do. In case it’s still down, here’s an older trailer.), to announce the public ship date of the game. A “formal review” embargo, though, is also being placed until January 27th, so I won’t be able to tell you any thoughts until then.  I don’t consider this post anything even close to a review, so I’m assuming this is hunky-dory. [Update] Strike that. They’ve changed their minds and according to the last update, they’ve lifted the embargo entirely. According to the update:

‘The decision to set this originally was not made with any sort of malicious or controlling intent, but rather to keep spoilers to a minimum and give press time to enjoy the game, reflect on it, and write a review without feeling rushed to get it out first.”

I didn’t see it as overly controlling personally, but I’m guessing others did. I agree with keeping spoilers to a minimum, though. I guess the only thing that’s stopping me now is just playing it!

So, anyway, YAY! A new adventure game to prove the world still likes adventure games! Or… at least us older gamers who like to read and explore do, anyway.

I do wonder, though, what the point of truly fiendish puzzles are in this age of Google? Will people appreciate the challenge, when the answers are literally a couple of keystrokes away? Will they make the puzzles so easy that people don’t feel compelled to cheat? If they make it too easy, then what will be the draw to play? Is this why the adventure game is considered “dead” in the first place? I hope not. Not all of us cheat first and play later. This is going to be either the first step in a resurgence, or the last breath of a dead genre.

I may be a little on the old school side, but I hope the adventure game never dies.


P.S. – Update: It looks like Broken Age, Act 1 will be releasing on January 28th fully (not a long time to post reviews), is currently available for pre-order on Steam, and the trailer has been put back up. Can’t wait to start kicking some ass with Vella!


3 thoughts on “Broken Age Beta Starts Today! [Updated: No more review embargo]

  1. They at least addressed the trend in The Cave- there’s a puzzle with a sign nearby giving you a walkthrough URL, and after solving it the narrator makes fun of you for using the walkthrough. (maybe he doesn’t if you didn’t read the sign; I didn’t check)

    The problem is it was a really easy puzzle (Minor variant on the “get four gallons of water from a three and five gallon jug” chestnut) and not the sort of arbitrary adventure game logic or finicky physics puzzles that you might actually use a walkthrough for.

    • I liked that solution. The “since we know you’re going to be looking it up anyway, here’s the answer… but we’re going to make you feel like an idiot for doing it.”

      I liked The Cave, but I was a bit disappointed in the difficulty level. It felt like they made it too easy at times. Like they could’ve really made it challenging, but then scaled it back. The Time Traveler comes to mind as one of the more tricky ones. But then, take some of the old Sierra games where you could literally break the game by not picking up a particular item 100 screens ago, or some of the solutions are so insane that it transcends common sense. That’s not that fun, either.

      I’m curious to see the tightrope that Broken Age will walk. I’m hoping for really mind-bendingly fiendish, throw your keyboard through the monitor type stuff, but I doubt it will be.

  2. I saw this pop up on my main page the other day and checked the trailer. Its now on my wish list! I really need to catch up on your blogs, I have somehow gotten behind. Either that or your twitter reminders I am somehow missing.

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