- Platform: Xbox360 (via Xbox Live Arcade)
- Genre: Puzzle / 2D-Advanture
- Rating: Everyone (10+)
If you take it purely as entertainment, Braid is nearly flawless. Taken it as an artistic work, it’s like an ambitious film that just overreaches its limits, flawed in an interesting and compelling way. As a whole, it is gripping and original far beyond conventional videogames, and is the perfect antidote for the current sequel-driven industry. At first blush, Braid seems like an exceptionally beautiful Super Mario Brothers knock-off, but there are numerous twists that extend its definition far beyond that.
To put it simply, Braid is a 2D platform game stars a guy named Tim. In this game, you can almost run through Braid‘s levels without a problem, but the true objective is to search out the puzzle pieces in each level, which you can then assemble into still photos that connect thematically to that level, and in order to do that, you control time. Simply by pressing the X button, the time rewinds almost everything, Tim, the enemies, the environment and even the music. This is the pivot point of some of the game’s best puzzles, and it becomes the primary tool you will be using until you reach the game’s shattering conclusion. As you progress through the six or five worlds, you will notice that you will have to think about time manipulation, and especially how to manipulate time with objects that respond differently to it, as each world produces a specific theme or mechanic for time manipulation. This consistent underlying logic ensures that you hardly ever feel cheated by the design. Braid certainly feels like a game that spent a year or two being polished.
By virtue of the imagery alone, Braid presents a true special experience. From the first moment you boot up it up, as it bypasses a title screen in favor of beginning play immediately; you’ll be struck by the look. Braid is like a painting in motion, with lush swirling colors and expressive caricatures. What’s most impressive is how effectively the visuals convey the mood of every area. From light and breezy meadows to disturbingly lifeless parodies of levels you have completed before, there’s instant emotional impact every time you enter a new area. It works as the bridge that gives you to a sense that there’s more going on here than just some tricky puzzles. You’ll also appreciate the soundtrack. Like the visuals, they capture the desired mood, though with it switching between being played forward and backward at the whim of the player, it never quite hits a rhythm. Still, the music is an appropriate mix of mellowness, melancholy, and nostalgia. An absolute musical masterpiece!
It’s pretty important to say that the puzzles can be incredibly frustrating sometimes to the point you would think there is a flaw in the game’s mechanics, and there are moments where will you reaching for GameFAQs every so often. My advice: don’t do it. Braid isn’t about the puzzles and the jigsaw pieces; it’s about the collective, emotional experience you receive at the end. In the later levels, you will absolutely have to think outside the box and try to reflect creatively to solve each puzzle you encounter because the game demands you to be creative.
Even though I usually don’t state anything about the ending of the games, but I’d like you to pay attention at what happens during the end, and also go through the books that were presented at each chapter because the conclusion that you will derive eventually will shatter any thought you might have had of enjoying Braid only for its gameplay. I won’t spoil the end, but do you remember all those times when you spent a great deal of skill and brainpower to finish a game, and were rewarded with a pleasant, tidy ending. Well, Braid‘s ending is the precise opposite. And it is powerful in such a way that you will more likely than not want to start digging into the story a lot more than you did. If you start digging enough, you’ll find out about an alternate ending, which puts an even more interesting spin on things. Without spoiling anything, what you must do to get it affects your understanding of the ending itself.
Life is short. Time is precious yet we waste plenty of it. There’s plenty of money in the world, and fifteen dollars worth of Microsoft Points isn’t much. With beautifully crafted and wonderfully realized mechanics, Braid is a shining example of the intersection between art and technology, love and loss, desire and despondence. In other words, Braid is beautiful. Beautiful is Braid.
9.5 out of 10