Braid Review

Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, PC
Release Dates: August 6, 2008 (Xbox Live Arcade); April 10, 2009 (PC); November 12, 2009 (PSN)

I don’t feel like I’ve played a game as focused as Braid. It gets in, shows you its puzzle gameplay and unique storytelling, and gets out leaving you with an itch for more brain teasers. Brevity be damned, Braid is still an inventive game well worth playing.

Opting to take a subtle approach to its story, Braid doesn’t pound its message into your head. There is no voice acting, but only books before each of the six chapters delicately weaving a story that wants you to think. A lot of narrative dot connecting is left up to player but the base is this: there is a princess and Tim (the main character) has done something wrong and wants to get her back. Tim’s journey may sound like one of a certain Italian plumber, but the presentation is given such care and given the great, intentionally ambiguous ending left for interpretation, the story is more intriguing than it should be.

Tim has a few tricks up his sleeve that make this game a brilliant intellectual journey. Braid takes a Portal 2 approach to its puzzles, meaning there is a core idea but it is manipulated in so many ways to keep its gameplay feeling new every time. Instead of shooting portals, you are given the ability to rewind time. Prince of Persia this is not, as objectives are much more puzzle oriented even though you’ll crush a few suspicious Goomba lookalikes.

Each of the levels each introduce a new twist on the time shifting ability. You can record doppelgangers, have a ring that slows down time, have objects unaffected by time tinkering, and a couple more interesting variations all revolving around time. All of these powers are generally fun to mess around with and all add a fresh take on a core concept. The puzzles can require some thinking, and while I was never frustrated, going outside of the box is needed for some of the elusive puzzle pieces.

I could have played with Braid‘s time puzzles until my eyes bled but, unfortunately, the game doesn’t give you that liberty. I don’t equate a game’s length with its overall quality, but Braid is a short game. I’m not Einstein, but the game only took me about three hours to complete everything, give or take. This could be more of a hunger for this specific type of gameplay, which in the end, is a compliment but I would have liked to see it go on for longer.

Games as arty, mature, and as good as Braid don’t fill up the release schedule as much as they should. The smart choice to ditch explosions for a more calm, intelligent feel leads to this game to feel wholly unique and innovative. This one definitely deserves to downloaded soon, because unlike Tim, you can’t rewind time if you miss out on the opportunity to play this gem.

+Puzzles are rewarding
+Many different time abilities
+Subtle, unique story telling
-Really short

Final Score: 8.5/10

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