Have you ever felt the sting of unrequited love? How about feeling like you would do anything for someone you care about, but they never cared or did the same for you? That’s Broken Dreams.
You are Jack. Jack sees Michelle for the first time and falls in love with her. Jack and Michelle start meeting at this bench all the time. However, Michelle suddenly stops showing up and Jack is worried. Through 25 levels, you’ll experience this and more as you work to try and find Michelle again.
Broken Dreams is a 2D puzzle platformer that was initially released as a free flash game. The Steam release sees the addition of 5 “bonus” levels, as well as a price tag of $1. As someone who tends to enjoy story-based, somewhat artsy games, I decided to pick this up and give it a try.
The puzzle side of Broken Dreams has a sort of Braid feel to it, at least when you’re playing with just Jack. To progress through those levels, you’ll need to do actions to set up your shadows so that you can make it to the end. This sometimes involves making ridiculous looking jumps, and then it can also come down to a good portion of trial and error to get the timing right. I’m not so much a fan of “trial and error” style puzzling, especially when it isn’t immediately obvious. For the handful of levels that you have access to Michelle as well, you’ll need to work with both characters together to make it to the end.
As far as platforming goes, Broken Dreams is fairly standard. Sometimes you’ll need to correctly manipulate your shadows, sometimes you’ll need to use both characters jumping together. In general, your platforming is done with the arrow keys, though in the instances you have Michelle WASD are also used. This is one of the more forgiving setups of key bindings I’ve found, especially since I’ve spent many years on MMOs actively switching between using both. The platforming is also generally pretty forgiving, and none of it is really “that” tricky to try and do.
The story in Broken Dreams is presented as 1-2 lines of dialogue at the start of each level. This dialogue typically involves Jack talking about Michelle. Unfortunately, it also involves the characters talking about stuff like “I could reach her if I used the right arrow key”. While it is one method of telling the player the controls, it doesn’t feel natural to have a character saying it as if it’s no big deal. Speaking of the dialogue telling you the controls, there’s one point where you have to double jump to progress. You haven’t been told about double jumping yet – you’re told about it on one of the following levels – and you might seem to just end up being stuck.
While Broken Age does feature a fully voiced cast (of two characters), it only seems to actually feature 1 track for the soundtrack. While the track is nice at first, it does get quite old after a while. The voice acting is decent at best, though I did question the audio quality at times.
One thing I question is why they changed the sprites for the characters between the Flash version and the Steam version. Looking up video of the Flash version, I see that the sprites are a fair bit larger and more detailed. In the Steam version, they’ve been toned down a lot and look a lot more boring. Other than the sprites for the characters though, the background images look absolutely amazing.
For the $0.59 I paid (normally $0.99), Broken Dreams provides a short, sometimes tricky, puzzle platformer. Some things are a bit trial and error though, especially when it comes to trying to get the exact timings down. I do wish there was more than one track in the game, and even if there is, that they did sound a bit different (I can’t recall hearing more than one song, however, which is why I’m only saying that there’s one). I also question why the sprites were changed, especially since I feel like the Flash version’s look a fair bit better. If you’re looking for a short time sink, then perhaps it would be worth your time to check this game out. Do keep in mind that there are options to get it for free – including on Android – so you may want to look into getting it somewhere besides on Steam.
Broken Dreams Review Score