Review of Braid(PC)

So I was recommended this game by my wife's coworker. I was told that it was different from the traditional platformer game and I would say that description is dead on. I will try my best to review the quality of the game without revealing any spoilers.

Braid was developed by an independent developer, Jonathan Blow. It was first released on Xbox Live on August 6th, 2008, then on PC on April 10th 2009, and finally ported to the Mac OSX by Hothead Games, on May 20, 2009.

The game started off with me controlling a character, Tim, wearing a tie and suit overlooking New York City. The twin towers could be seen in the background. The story behind the character and the game is quite vague, purposely so. The entire story is open to interpretation. All we can surmise in the beginning of the game is that there is a princess that we are trying to rescue.

Each world contains a portrait which is split up into a jigsaw puzzle. The goal is to obtain every piece of the jigsaw before entering the final level. It's not quite that simple though. The greatest tool in this game is the ability to reverse time and undo your actions. Each world contains a new element to the time control; one contains objects/monsters which are solely immune to your time reverse, another world gives you a ring which slows down everything near it, and another world reverses itself every time you walk backwards(this was probably the most difficult one for me).

The graphics were quite stunning for a 2D game. I could immediately tell a lot of work was put in to creating an ambiance to immerse the player in. Everything from the characters, the environment, to the background looks like it was created through water painting. Each world offers a different graphical theme which ties in with the physics of each world. The number of monsters is quite limited. There was only a handful of monsters in the game. This lack of variety did not make gameplay repetitive as it would in other games because the main challenge was not getting past the monsters, rather, it was to solve the puzzle of each stage. All in all, the graphics were a refreshing experience and quite appropriate for this game.

The soundtrack to the game adds to the sense of mystery and tranquility in the world of Braid. Nothing in the game seems urgent, mostly due to the fact that you can reverse any action taken so consequences aren't an issue, and the music reinforces this feeling of slow-paced puzzle solving. Each world has it's own music and they never get repetitive because it doesn't really force itself on the listener, rather it attempts to subtly impart that sense of tranquility on the user despite the fact that you're supposed to be rushing to save the princess. The audio track in this game is top-notch aside from sound effects of time reverse which DID get annoying in some parts of the game which required heavy amounts of time reversing, so much so that I muted my computer, but this instances were few and far between.

The controls are quite smooth and basic. The arrow keys control basic movement, spacebar is for jumping, and shift key is for time reversal. The movements did feel a bit sluggish but after 10 minutes I got used to it and didn't notice it much anymore. At times, you will be frustrated by trying to control the jumping. Precision is a bit lacking in the controls but with the time reverse that isn't too much of an issue. The controls were fairly well thought out and the barebones style is fitting.

The game has a few extras and hidden items which increase the replay value. After finishing the basic storyline, you are allowed to revisit all the areas. One of the more important aspects of the game that will hook you even after finishing the game is the story itself. It isn't all wrapped up at the end and neatly laid out for you. You must still read and reread the pieces of the information given to you to figure what it all means. There is also a speed run mode that allows you to test how fast you can beat a stage. But aside from these, there is no other content that increases replay value. I would say for the average gamer, this will not be a game worth replaying.

I would highly recommend this game to you if you enjoy puzzles and platformers. This game is a genuine innovation in a field of games where every game seems to copy the previous. Even if puzzles aren't your thing, Braid will give you a unique and compelling experience which no other platformer will. Here is a video of the gameplay;


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