#819 Braid

Posted: 14th August 2013 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , , , , ,

262nd played so far

2013-02-24_00001

Genre: Puzzle/Platform
Platform: PC/XBox 360
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Number None Inc.
Publisher: Number None Inc., Microsoft Game Studios

Some games have an initial concept and description that make the game more interesting from that alone. Braid is one of those. While essentially a platformer, the game introduces manipulation of time as a second gameplay mechanic.

It’s critically lauded – the best on XBLA according to some measurements (and one of the best on Steam)– so a good time to give it a go.

Our Thoughts

So here’s one of those games I don’t want to say too much about as so much of it needs to be experienced to really be appreciated. In particular, story details beyond ‘you’re rescuing the princess’ are best left unspoilered. Trust us when we say it’s a good one.

The game itself is as enigmatic, with the gameplay mechanics at least partially down to you to discover and make full use of. Beyond the standard platform options, time is centered around these. Initially (and in particular for the first world you play, number 2), this is about reversing time. Partially an easy way to escape your death and get your jumps right, later worlds evolve this mechanic, from having creatures (or yourself) be immune to it to having time move in a different direction – not just forwards – or at different speeds.

These make for some interesting and tough puzzles – it’s quite possible to get stuck for a while if you don’t see the trick and we needed to get some help. Worth trying at all times though. In those terms it can be like one of those really esoteric RPG games (I love you Time Gentlemen, Please) where sometimes you do need a little nudge to help or even some consoling that you ARE doing the right thing but the controls are too damned fiddly.

These time effects affect the story too, which is even more interesting. Not as normal, where you see how you pick up a power in a cutscene or there’s some references. And not even Planescape Torment‘s powers having effect on bits of story telling. No, a core bit of gameplay itself tells part of the story. I won’t spoil it, but it’s impressive and deserves to be held up as an example of storytelling. You’ll know it when you get there.

The last level really ups in the ante in terms of difficulty. If you make a wrong move you will be burned by an ever approaching wall of flame. There is a section where you need to time your jumps over a piranha plant and it took us ages and a lot of attempts to get through this tiny bit. However, the pay-off in terms of the overarching story is amazing so you can quickly forget the irritation.

The game’s mood, its slightly Victorian mood and such, is enhanced by the handdrawn graphics. They’re at times grotesque and often beautiful. They, and the short pieces of text that lay out parts of the story, combine to form what’s best described as an experience. A fascinating experience couple with an at times devilishly difficult game.

Final Thoughts

Without spoilering things, the game is one to play through to the end. Use help with the puzzles, you’ll need them, but see where things end up. You’ll never forget it.

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