Braid Review - I Want A Do-Over
Jonathan Blow owes me a year or two my life. The frustration I experienced this past weekend working my way through his gaming opus, “Braid,” had to have shortened my life by at least a year. It is easily one of the most frustrating, infuriating, yet intelligent, and satisfying games I’ve ever played. But for all it’s acclaim is it worth the money?
For anyone who’s ever played “Super Mario Bros.” the basic game mechanics are pretty simple - run and jump, only instead of Mario, you play as Tim, who is also searching for his princess. The goal is pretty basic too - help Tim make his way to the end of the level; avoiding the enemies, jumping the dangerous pits, and unlocking doors as you go. That’s pretty much where the game stops being simple.
“Braid” plays out like your standard platformer, but it manages to tweak and twist time in every way imaginable. At every turn the game changes the rules, and throws you a curveball when you least expect it. It forces you to rethink everything that just happened in order for you to make your way through the level and continue on your search for the princess.
As Tim makes his way through the game’s six worlds the “simple” mechanic of time manipulation changes in each level, basically forcing you to learn an entirely new way to play the game over and over. Each world has levels with challenges tailored to Tim’s specific abilities in that area, and the levels are designed to take advantage of the fact that you can control time, and put your brain to the test as you try to from the left side of the board to the right side.
As if that wasn’t hard enough, there’s one additional challenge that’s added to the mix in every level, collecting puzzle pieces that are strategically located throughout every level. The pieces are a vital part of completing the game because, at the end of each world, once all the pieces are collected and assembled, reveal a little bit about the back story of the game. It’s a unique addition to the standard platforming-run-and-jump formula that really ups the level of aggravation. Most of the puzzle pieces are placed just out of Tim’s reach, and you need to do your best to bend time, and take advantage of the layout of the levels in order to reach the pieces. Basically, the gameplay is great. It’s 2D platforming at it’s finest, and that’s something the game developers of today really need to take note of.
The art style of “Braid” is also quite impressive. Of course, the game looks amazing in HD, but this is one of those games that screenshots can’t do justice. Simply, “Braid” is a beautiful looking game. It’s like playing a game in a watercolor painting.
For all the great things that can be said about “Braid,” there is one really glaring problem - the story. Much like everything else in the game, it seems simple, but really, it’s not. Tim is trying to find his princess, (I don’t want to ruin the game for anyone) but things don’t really work out exactly as he planned. A loose narrative is told before the first level of each world, but it doesn’t really tie everything up in the end. When you complete the game it feels like it was more of an abstract experience than anything else. This idea does, without a doubt, set it apart from the pack, but it left me feeling a little bit cheated. When you complete a level, or get a puzzle piece in “Braid” you get a sense of satisfaction, but when you complete the game you just get confused. I’m a fan of creative thinking in games, and usually encourage it, but I don’t feel like it worked all too well here. There aren’t many games that I can really consider “abstract,” or open to interpretation, the story really takes away from “Braid” could have been.
Overall, “Braid” is a great game, and if you enjoy platformers, it’s really something you should try. However, make sure you’re ready to be challenged, with both the game, and the story.
Rating: Braid gets a 12 out of $15*
*TrueGameHeadz reviews are based on a sliding scale to help you, the gamer, make better purchasing decisions. The review ratings are based on the cost of the game, so, if an Xbox 360 or PS3 game costs $60, they can get a rating of what the game should cost, somewhere in the range of 0-60. So for this review, “Braid” received a 12 out of $15, meaning the price that seems appropriate is $12, and if it is ever priced $12 it is a definite purchase. In more traditional terms, 12 out of $15 equals 8.0.