I really need to get this out, I am not a backer of this game but I did buy Act 1 and loved it. I am also a huge fan of older adventure games like Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandago, and unlike some of the Giant Bombcast folks I am "sure" I liked them.
Man, Act 1 was so good, it sets up so much great stuff and has a perfect mix of puzzle solving and exploring new areas. It seemed to understand the general adventure game hook, where puzzles are a vehicle to unlock more areas to explore and more dialog options. Being only one act of the story, it did all this on a small scale, but was still paced pretty well for what it was. Combined with some great characters and funny dialog, really seemed like Double Fine was hitting its stride.
Act 2 is a mess. As fun as it is to explore Vella's areas as Shay, and Shay's ship as Vella, these segments really should have been much shorter and lead to brand new parts of the world. This is not the case, almost the entirety of Act 2 takes place in the same areas as Act 1. What's more, all of the areas Shay explores are unlocked already, and Vella has to do puzzles to unlock the same areas you already explored as Shay in Act 1. It cannot be understated how much this hurts the game, despite almost everything else about it being relatively well done. Even though Broken Age has puzzle design that's about on par with older adventure games, the lack of pacing between puzzles and new environments as rewards just makes everything seem like work after a while. It just gets worse in the latter parts of the game, where the game has ridiculously contrived reasons to keep Vella on Mog Chogthra and Shay on Alex's ship (where he gets to explore the only 4 completely new screens in act 2) during the game's climax. It would be like if the entirety of Monkey Island took place on the ship, no matter how much the ship changed to create new puzzles it would still get old fast.
Going beyond the lack of new exploration, the story doesn't go anywhere very interesting, and the weird subconcious bond between Vella and Shay doesn't get too much explanation or closure. The dialog remains funny and strong, and the overall themes of the story are great, which by itself might make it worth playing for some. I don't regret playing it, but it did seem like a wasted opportunity considering the potential from Act 1.
Thanks for reading this rant.