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Video Game: Broken Age
"My name is Shay, and this is my life on the incubator vessel Bassinostra. It's a lifeboat, an escape pod. It carried me to safety when my world was dying. I can't really complain — the ship takes care of me, feeds me, entertains me. I think in its own weird way it loves me. But I've discovered it's also lying to me. Sheltering me from the conflicts raging throughout the galaxy. The injustices out there that I could be fighting. But this ship would never let me put myself in danger. So it's time for a mutiny. Time to put aside childish things. Time to grab the wheel of this ship, and steer it straight into the storm..."

Broken Age is an Adventure Game by Double Fine released for the PC in 2014, with the first act being released in January and the second at a future date. It is notable for raising more than $3.3 millionnote  in crowd funding via Kickstarter, starting a trend among video game developers in The New Tens to use Kickstarter to fund their own passion projects.

The game features two separate stories which are played in parallel; although there is little direct connection between them, the two stories share strong thematic elements. Both stories feature a teenager — one a boy, the other a girl — who find themselves in situations they desire to escape.

The boy, who is named Shay Volta, lives alone in outer space on the Bossa Nostra, an "incubator vessel" that carried him to safety when his world was dying. His entire life so far has been spent under the watchful eye of the ship's maternal AI, who has coddled, nourished, and entertained him through the years, shielding him from potential dangers that lurk beyond the pod bay doors. However; Shay is starting to become suspicious of his extremely fussy adoptive parent's true motives, and he has a growing longing to see the outside world and face some real danger.

The girl, Vella Beastender Tartine, has just been selected for a "great honor": her participation in her village's highly esteemed festival for the Eldritch Abomination "Mog Chothra" (the latest in a long distinguished line of Mogs) as one of the maidens that will potentially be devoured by the monster in exchange for the monster leaving the town in peace for another 14 years. Faced with this dire situation, Vella finds herself coming back to a single question: "What if we actually tried to fight the monster?"

Both Shay and Vella will be required to make a fateful decision that will greatly affect their lives, and the world around them.


This game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Vella.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Vella appears to have a dark-skinned mother and a white father.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: Mom used to tell Shay a story about a girl who was chosen to be sacrificed. The story ends with her revealing that she was that girl.
  • Art Shift: Alex is slightly more realistic than the rest of the cast, as he's based on Alex Rigopoulos of Harmonix. Ditto for the Train Conductor, who is based on the train conductor from the board game Ticket To Ride.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: In order to defeat Mog Chothra, you must shoot lasers into his mouth.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Mog Chothra's insides is the Bossa Nostra.
  • Bland-Name Product: One of Shay's choices of breakfast cereal is "Whole Grain Nutrient Paste"; the box art is suspiciously similar to that of the Quaker Oats Oatmeal.
  • Blood Knight:
    • The Knife that Shay recovers. When Shay drops it it sails off, shouting "I'm free! Free to cleave the infinite void of space itself!"
    • Vella to a more subtle degree. While she isn't a bloody hungry warrior, her puzzle solutions are often violent or confrontational and she seems perfectly happy with it.
  • Book Ends: Act 1 ends with Shay and Vella lying down in the same position as on the first screen but on the side the other started on, with Vella stuck inside the crashed Mog Chothra/Bossa Nostra, and Shay stranded in Shellmound.
  • Brain Uploading: Both Mom and Dad are implied to be the result of this.
  • Bubbly Clouds: Meriloft, which has multiple people lampshade how strange having this as a village is by saying its only possible through keeping things as light as possible while also giving them a large surface area.
  • Catchphrase: Vella can at least once in all her conversations talk about how she is "going to kill Mog Chothra!"
  • Character Tic: Marek and his occasional shifty eyes.
  • Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: The cereals Mom offers to Shay.
  • Coming of Age Story: Broken Age is basically about two teens learning how to lead a life separate from the one their parents chose for them.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror:
    • Vella's hometown doesn't seem to see anything wrong with sacrificing maidens to the resident monster. Most people treat it as a great honor, with the maidens believing they'll be remembered as heroes. The only people taking issue with the arrangement is Grandpa Beastender and Vella, and even they seem little more than irritated with the whole thing... until the actual sacrificing begins.
    • Turns out every village Mog Chothra visits has become like this, with at least one girl seen lamenting over the fact that she wasn't eaten alive like the rest of the girls.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Sugar Bunting, Vella's hometown, looks beautifully pastoral and has an economy based entirely around baking. It also sacrifices girls to a hideous monster every 14 years. Shay's story, meanwhile, involves him trying to break out of his "perfect" world to have some real adventures, evoking this idea.
  • Crossdressing Voices: Ch't is played by Hynden Walch, best known for playing Starfire and Princess Bubblegum.
  • Cult: Brother Lightbeard's followers are a rare fictional example of a cult that actually works very much like your average real-life one, rather than simply being a bunch of hood-wearing, knife-wielding, Great Old One worshipping nutcases. Most of the members are people in the middle of a mid-life crisis or some other state of emotional vulnerability who were recruited via promises of a healthier, more enlightened way of life and pulled the rest of their families with them while cutting all ties to their former lives. They donate their money to the cult leader (who routinely breaks all of his own sacred commandments, a fact which is accepted by the cult-members since he's believed to be beyond human flaws), use aggressive psychological warfare tactics in order to break hesitant subjects into conforming to the rules (using an implied "spiritual scoring system" with "demerits" for such things as bad hygiene resulting in punishment), and eventually even get to the point of physically preventing anyone from leaving their community (claiming that it's so perfect that if anybody wishes to leave it, it must be a problem with them).
  • Cute Machines: Every robot in Shay's ship.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Vella does this at one point with her grandfather's ceremonial knife.
  • Death Ray: Used by Vella to fight Mog Chothra.
    Dead Eye God/Alex: Well, heck. Let's just call a death ray a death ray.
  • Development Gag: Curtis is based on the "Hipster Lumberjack" character that was used to test the game's engine. He wasn't initially going to be in the game, but he caught on with fans, so he was added into the story.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: There is quite a few humorous lines which can only be found by trying out somewhat obscure combinations of items and characters.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The basic premise of Vella's story is that she's trying to do this. She succeeds, but it's technically subverted since Mog Chothra is actually Shay's ship. Plus, she fails when she literally tries to punch Shay.
  • Double Entendre: Curtis' stool remarks. Though he is actually talking about chairs, the way he says them can be interpreted as meaning a different kind of stool. The whole thing is even noticed by Vella.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    Shay: "Hey, Marek, wanna take a hit off this air tank?"
  • Eldritch Abomination: Mog Chothra is a near-textbook example of an inscrutable, invincible, monster who seems to play by its own rules of physics, has a biological form that makes no natural sense (including eyes all over its body and Combat Tentacles,) and is subject to awe and reverence by the population around it. Ultimately subverted by the Twist Ending of Act I.
  • Episodic Game: The game will be divided in two parts.
  • Everything's Better with Plushies: Mom certainly thinks so. Shay disagrees.
  • Evil Mentor: Marek to Shay. Though whether he's truly evil or simply has his own agenda is not yet clear.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Vella's grandfather.
  • The Faceless: Dead Eye Dawn and Dead Eye Courtney.
  • The Face of the Sun: Shay's "Mom" is depicted as a sun with a face.
  • A Fęte Worse than Death:
    • Instead of treating the fact that they are sending their young women to be devoured by a monster in exchange for some years of mercy like the tragedy it is, Vella's village treats like a festive, colorful and joyous occasion.
    • After leaving her Village, Vella finds that all the other villages have the same attitude. She even meets one girl that was disappointed to not have been eaten.
  • Fish Eyes: The Bland-Name Product mascot for the Quaker Oats-esque cereal has these.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the first two "save the creature" sequences of Shay's story, the names of the nebulae reference the villages in Vella's story: Talon Nebula referencing birds and Danger System 5 referencing Sugar Bunting's old reputation of being so dangerous that all the villages were terrified of it.
    • During the two latter "save the creature" sequences of Shay's story, both of the remaining creatures that Shay tries to desperately "save" despite Merek's oppositions have Vella's feather headdress.
    • Mog Chothra has red hexagon shaped eyes that look like the windows on Shay's ship.
    • Alex is a space explorer who's treated like a god, he's not the only one.
    • Shay's helmet comes off when he passes out in space. It's not a stylistic choice to avoid showing what would actually happen - the "exterior" of the ship is actually another simulation room. Shay's not in space.
    • During the introduction of Mog Chothra, mechanical whirs and the moaning of steel can be heard. It could be interpreted as the bending of the nearby docks, but it's really coming from Shay's Ship/Mog Chothra.
  • Full Name Ultimatum: Vella's little sister calls her full name (Velouria Beastender Tartine) to get her attention in the beginning.
  • The Ghost: Becky Yorn. Mentioned as both the creator of the riddle of Yorn, and the Woodcutter's girlfriend.
  • God Guise: The Dead-Eye God is actually a man named Alex.
  • Go for the Eye: Averted. Even Mog Chothra's eyes are armor-plated.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: After Vella flies through a cloud and loses her bird she doesn't begin to fall until she can comically look below her; she then instantly drops.
  • The Heavy: Shay's computer for his story (technically), Mog Chothra for Vella's (which technically makes Shay The Heavy for her, since Mog Chothra is actually his ship).
  • Hermit Guru: Harm'ny Lightbeard certainly acts like one, complete with meditating and dispensing Ice Cream Koans, but he's really more of a Snake Oil Salesman.
  • Hero of Another Story: Both protagonists have very different adventures, to the point where their initial settings are complete opposites.
  • Hidden Depths: Both Shay and Marek know how to crochet.
    Marek: This wolf costume doesn't make itself, you know.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Shay and Alex evacuated their home planet after it is no longer inhabitable.
  • Hourglass Plot: Act Two is shaping up to be this, with the end of the first act leaving the protagonists in the setting of their counterpart, Vella inside Mog Chothra/Bossa Nostra and Shay in Shellmound.
  • Human Popsicle: Alex was frozen for 300 years.
  • Human Sacrifice: The village offers up a selection of young maidens for Mog Chothra to choose a sacrifice from, Vella among them, but she is planning to reject that tradition.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: The talking trees see humans as murderous psychopaths.
  • Hyperlink Story: Vella's and Shay's stories come together when, in the Act 1 finale, Shay's spaceship is revealed to be Mog Chothra - the Eldritch Abomination that has been feeding on the maidens from Vella's world.
  • I Can't Use These Things Together: Both leads do this, but Shay probably has the best reason of the two.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Marek's missions involve going to places such as "Danger System 5", and "Prima Doom".
  • In-Series Nickname: Marek calls Shay "young cub", while Mom calls him "Sweetie" or "Captain Sweetie".
  • Jet Pack: Shay improvises one out of a whipped cream sprayer.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall/Visual Pun: The talking tree Vella meets is named "Dialogue Tree".
  • The Man in the Moon: Shay's "Dad" is depicted as a moon with a face.
  • Master Computer: Shay's story begins with him living under the care of a computer system that has decided much of his life.
  • Meaningful Echo: M'ggie comments that "Short things can surprise you" when she gives Vella her ladder. Vella echoes her words when she uses the ladder to pry open Mog Chothra's mouth, rendering it vulnerable to Alex's death ray.
  • Meaningful Name: Vella's people were once proud warriors who'd fight the Mogs, but now they're mostly known for their baking. So, it makes sense that her full name is "Velouria Beastender Tartine".
  • My Beloved Smother: The aforementioned computer system that takes care of Shay seems highly overprotective and controlling, though he seems to believe she does it from a place of love.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Both protagonists take actions that seem like good ideas at the time, which come back to haunt them later.
  • Obviously Evil: By the end of Act I, Marek's motives are unknown, but it's obvious they're not good.
  • Only Sane Girl: Vella appears to be the only one in the entire world who doesn't believe getting devoured alive by a gigantic Cthulhu-esque monster is something to look forward to.
  • Only the Knowledgable May Pass: Subverted. Vella must solve a riddle in order to enter the Dead Eye God's temple. Turns out, the riddle had nothing to do with the temple. It was just something that's been bothering the guards.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast:
    • Vella's story is more heavily dominated by orange and yellow, while Shay sees more blue and grey.
    • Both Shay and Vella see this to varying degrees. Shay's ship uses this as a basis of the color scheme along with primary colors. Velouria has her town in the beginning and Shellmound, although they're more subtle.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Grabbin' Gary is a robot that likes to grab things. Except for things that don't have handles, things that are slippery, things of a personal nature, trash... Actually, there's only one thing in the game that Grabbin' Gary wants to grab.
  • Port Town: Shellmound, which is how the village got its name.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Grandpa Beastender implies the people of Sugar Bunting used to be this in his day. Alex confirms it, saying the Sugar Bunting was once called Steel Bunting, and was feared by all the other villages.
  • Red Herring:
    • What both Mom and Alex tell about themselves turn out to be this.
    • When Mom tells about how she once was a girl chosen for a sacrifice, she tells it like it happened a long time ago, implying that Shay's story takes place in the far future, and that Mom is possibly an older Vella. But she isn't.
    • The player doesn't learn Alex's name straight away, so when he talks about how he crashed in his space vessel, after rebelling against the ship's computer, he could easily be mistaken for an older Shay. But he isn't.
  • Retired Badass: Vella's grandfather is seen wearing many medals and still complains about how the family has chosen to give up their Beastender ways in favor of becoming bakers.
  • Retraux: Retro Mode. note 
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The robots and plushies on Shay's ship, as well as the birds in Meriloft.
  • Runaway Train: One of the missions Mom gives to Shay.
  • Sapient Ship: Shay's ship as shown through the various AI that take care of him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Cinna-Moons box is a reference to the infamous scene from A Trip to the Moon where the Man in The Moon gets a rocketship lodged in his eye. Another cereal is this to Quaker Oats Oatmeal. Also, Soylent Dreams.
    • Shay can tell The Space Weaver "Engage!" and "Make it so!", both catchphrases of Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • The game throws in another Star Trek reference with Omicron Radiation.
    • Space Weaver and Shay's sentient ship may be Expies of Pilot and Moya from Farscape.
    • The Ticket Master is based on the ticket master from the board game Ticket To Ride.
    • The smelling salts from Psychonauts can be found as an Easter Egg.
  • Solid Clouds: Meriloft is a colony located in the clouds.
  • Sugar Bowl: Shay's spaceship is one, much to his annoyance.
  • Surprise Party: Vella's family held a surprise party celebrating her sacrifice to Mog Chothra.
  • Sweet Tooth: Vella's little sister loves cupcakes. She ate like, six. But only the red ones. The white ones are gross.
  • Talking Appliance Sidekick: Shay's spoon and knife.
  • Teleporter Accident: The teleporters in Shay's ship will shrink your head due to quantum physics. Well, faulty wiring, anyway.
  • Theme Song Reveal: The Battle Theme Music that plays during Vella's climactic battle in Shellmound is the same one that plays during the attack on Shay's ship in Prima Doom. That's because they're the same battle.
  • Twist Ending: The end of Act 1 has a few.
  • Earth All Along: Shay's ship merely simulates space and actually lives in the ocean of Vella's world.
  • Robotic Reveal: Mog Chothra is Shay's ship.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Shay is Mog Chothra and has been "rescuing" sacrificial maidens.
  • Wall of Text: Not in-game, persay, but the credits are several minutes longer than usual because they listed every single backer who contributed to the project. The whole list takes roughly eight whole minutes to get through. You can search for a specific name by typing it in and it will jump to that location. You can skip the massive list by typing a name from the end of it such as Zach or you can even repeat it with a name from the beginning such as Adam. You can also speed up the crawl rate (to a vertigo-inducing speed) or slow or even reverse it with the up or down cursor keys.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Curtis the woodworker has developed a phobia of trees, which makes getting raw materials rather difficult. To be fair, they ended up being sapient, and were calling him a murderer.
  • Why Do You Keepchanging Jobs: Curtis becomes a metalworker in Arc 2 of the game.
  • Worth It: Shay will quote this if you manage to get his tether in space uncut without getting the air tank attached first and cause him to pass out.

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