Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Braid

Look, I was going to do a whole post about Braid, telling you exactly how awesome it is. It's pretty awesome. I mean, this is a game that rescues babies from burning buildings dinosaurs while simultaneously beating robo-Hitler at Guitar Hero. That's at least nine out of ten awesome stars.

But Braid really can't be described. It's a 2D platformer, but that's clearly not helpful as I despise platformers but love Braid. You control time - you can rewind it, pause it, and do all sorts of other time-related shenanigans. But it's nothing like Prince of Persia and it's whole worlds better than the disappointing TimeShift.

Braid is a game about relationship breakdowns. Seriously. I don't mean metaphorically. It's actually about relationship breakdowns. The protagonist, Tim, likes to take time out from all the running and jumping to muse about how hard it is to pull when you're wearing a wedding ring.

But more to the point, Braid is clever. Not only is every level exquisitely well-constructed, but the game manipulates your expectations about gameplay and progression with a deftness bordering on genius. Rather than feeling like an extension of games you've played before, Braid operates on a whole new plane, giving the impression that it's travelled from some distant future where James Joyce's resurrected corpse designs Mario-clones.

Even if you're not drawn in by the gameplay and the narrative, and even if you're not blown away by the powerful ending (which will hit you like a punch in the baby-maker), you can't deny that Braid looks and sounds fantastic. Every level is so gorgeous that you'll want to put your monitor up on the wall in a frame, and the music easily equals or exceeds that standard.

Braid is short - maybe five hours, or more if you're shy about FAQs - but that only adds to the appeal. It's a focused, intense experience, with deliberate pacing and a clear conclusion. Much like Portal it knows exactly what it wants to do and gets it done.

This is everything that gaming should be, and it's an excellent showcase for the merits of small-scale downloadable content. If you haven't already coughed up the necessary funds to acquire Braid from XBox Live Arcade then there's probably something wrong with you, and you should consult a doctor immediately.

4 comments:

Grant said...

I mostly agree with what you say, except about Braid not being a self-conscious reworking of pre-existing games. The Super Mario references are a bit too heavily seeded into the game to claim that I think.

It's a brilliant game, and an artfully constructed one, but it's more a post-modern reworking of old game mechanics than something wholly original in its own right.

Shashi said...

I love the artwork and the music (even though I haven't even played through it...yet...>_>). I'd love to see more of this!

Chris said...

Something wrong with me because I haven't downloaded it from Xbox live arcade?

That would be not owning an Xbox 360, I suppose. :D

Greg Tannahill said...

Yes. Clearly you're suffering from a case of PS3-itis, or somesuch.

Although if there's any possibility of this thing being ported to PSN and WiiWare then it should absolutely happen. Braid needs a wider audience.