Originally posted on the now defunct fwxd.net.
It's not often that a single game comes along that leaves you so compelled and interested that you continue to think and engross in your experience long after the credits have rolled. Braid is one of these games. An indie project produced almost completely by one man (which is a tale in its own), Braid for Xbox LIVE Arcade literally marinates in it’s off the cuff nature.
The game tells the tearful story of Tim, a heartbroken man in a suit and tie who must travel across a series of worlds in order to find his princess. The story itself is told through short written passages between levels and while these extracts, which almost feel like they were ripped from an emo teenager’s blog, can be ignored completely, they complement the ingenious design of Braid perfectly. What you take away from the tale is almost left up to your own interpretation; however the revolutionary finale will left you blown away all the same.
While the impact of Tim's tale is very much going to depend on the type of person you are and how receptive you are to its open nature, one thing everyone can take away from Braid is its exceptional game play. At first glance Braid is a traditional two dimensional platformer very akin to the original Super Mario Bros and in fact, Braid has many a naughty reference to that series which only help to solidify that comparison.
But no, with only three enemy types and five worlds, Braid won’t be winning any platforming awards this year. What Braid secretly is, is a puzzle game in disguise. Each world holds multiple puzzle pieces (with sixty in total throughout the whole game) which your goal is to collect. This is achieved through the help off Tim's ability to manipulate time, a simple press of the X button reversing any action you and your enemies have performed right up to the start of the level if you should wish.
This obviously removes any fear of dieing, but that’s precisely the point as you will need to try and try and try again if you are to solve some of Braid's more mind bending problems. Where things really get complex is in the introduction of objects (such as keys or enemies) that are resistant to your rewind ability. In later worlds you'll even experience shadows of yourself from a previous rewind attempt, and areas where walking onwards in the level moves time forward, while turning back will reverse it.
Much can be said for ingenious nature of Braid's design, but this all comes with the foot note that Braid is extremely frustrating. Every puzzle (bar one) can be solved as soon as you arrive at it, and despite the nagging thought in your head that what lye’s before you is impossible and that surely you must gain some skill later on that makes the problem solvable, everything in Braid is possible. It's just going to require quite a bit of thought, trail and error.
It can be extremely tempting to look up solutions online, however every gamer really should take the game’s official website’s advice and not use a walkthrough, because once you do solve a puzzle, you'll realise just how clever the game really is, and it will make you feel like the smartest person in the world for working it out.
Braid feels incredibly polished and is beautifully presented in an almost artistic way, with music that sets the tone and feeling of your experience every step, jump and rewind off the way. While the game's story might be left for interpretation, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Braid's game play is some of the best you will experience this year.