Braid will single handedly change the way you think about puzzle games. To me at least, they are rarely very interesting and usually devoid of any plot or meaning. Braid is a puzzle game with both an interesting plot and profound meaning.
Amazingly this game was written by a single author, Jonathan Blow. Blow credits David Lynch, which is understandable since the entire story is an allegory for something more sinister. If you can figure out a David Lynch movie then you will probably love this game.
On the face of it, the story of the game involves Tim, a hero, trying to save the princess. However, the best puzzle of the game is solving the meaning of the allegoric story. There is actually some controversy over the exact meaning, but it is quite clear to a logical mind. I wont discuss it here to avoid spoiling it for everyone else.
This game fits somewhere between the puzzle and action genres. Its a side scrolling platformer where you must find puzzle pieces by unlocking doors and getting to hard to reach places. Sometimes this involves rewinding time and sometimes it involves being in two places at once. Occasionally there are time-immune monsters and puzzles that you have to work around. The game play itself is very different and innovative. The only game that has ever dabbled with time in a similiar fashion is Blinx: The Timecat, but Blinx pales in comparison to Braid.
Though the game is short (5-10 hours of gameplay). It delivered the most joy and intrigue per second that I have ever experienced. For the puzzle genre, Braid is king.
The simplistic nature of the game means that there is only two buttons that do anything; jump and rewind. The puzzles that you must solve seem like a daunting task with so few abilities, but you will feel great when you solve them.
Some of the puzzles require fast reflexes and perfect timing. This can get frustrating, but usually you can just rewind and try again. There is no penalty for dying and your progress is automatically saved every level.
Technical Merit: 80%
The game engine is solid and crash free. The layered 2D graphics are the best I’ve seen. Nothing here is actually ground breaking or unbelievable. The game runs at a fixed resolution of 1280x1024.
The graphics are all beautifully painted. The backgrounds are the most impressive sights. Everything is layered in 2D. As you walk around it appears like you are playing within interactive photoshop layers. The sprites themselves are all hand-drawn and quite adequate.
The music is also a unique experience. The music was licensed from real artists through the Magnatune service, so they are actually a step above normal game music. The music is ambient, soft and serious. It helps to shape the mood of the game and add to the mysteriousness.
- If you feel tempted to cheat, I recommend the official Braid Walkthrough.
- As a bonus, there are 8 stars in the sky. You might find about 5 on your own but the others are nearly impossible to find. I recommend looking them up.
- Many effects are more powerful when time is reversed.
- Reverse 2x, 4x, 8x essentially lets you run.
- Bypass puzzles you cannot solve, sometimes future puzzles provide clues.