I just beat the second half and I have thoughts on it, but I'll first link to Kill Screen Daily's review: Broken Age and the adventure of growing up (alas, some minor spoilers for the game). It covers a lot of my thoughts about the second half, especially the idea of parenthood: "We are broken, and in our brokenness we break the next in line."
If the first act of Broken Age is about shaking off the constraints of childhood, the second act is about realizing that the adults in your life are as flawed and as human as you are. There's something powerful and sad about that.
Let's get the common complaints out of the way first: The second half doesn't introduce much in the way of new areas or new characters. The explanations for things are just plain goofy if/when you try to take them out of the metaphorical and into the literal. The puzzle difficulty has shot way up and with it, the annoyance and frustration that comes with that. Some sites have panned the game quite a bit.
But I still loved all of it anyway. In terms of adventure game puzzling, I found this game far less frustrating than most of the ones I've played. I didn't quite manage to get through it walkthrough free, but I didn't have to stop the game every five minutes to look up the answers, either. Keeping a pad of paper around to help keep track of some of the trickier puzzles definitely helped.
All the characters gain a richness this time around. Vella is more badass. Shay is more sensitive. The people they meet gain a certain amount of depth that most of them didn't have the first time around. There's a lot of delight to be had in giving people the 'wrong' items and hearing their responses. I am so glad we got to meet more cutlery in this half.
The story works best mostly in metaphor, and I think most of the attempts that it makes to explain the events of the game are misguided at best and confusingly terrible at worst. I really can't believe they even bothered. Sometimes not bothering at all is the best strategy.
I know some people think the finale/ending was a let down, but I think it's the perfect grace note on the game. Haters gonna hate, man.
Anyway, I need to go pack now. (I say that a lot, don't I? I definitely say that a lot.)
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