18 October 2009


My brother, Chris, gave me a copy of Braid for my birthday this year. When it was first released, Braid was hailed as an amazingly innovative blend of a platform game and a puzzle game. Personally, I think it's one of the most strikingly cunning games I've ever seen. In most puzzle-games, you finish the game thinking you're an idiot for having not seen the solution immediately; in Braid, by contrast, you feel like a genius as soon as you uncover the solution to each puzzle.

The mechanics of Braid are simple. You can only do, basically, three different things: Run, jump, and make time go backwards. Almost every puzzle in the game is driven by the last mechanic. Each 'world', of which there are five, introduces another time-related mechanic. The first world has you adjusting to solving puzzles by moving backwards in time, and the third introduces objects (e.g. enemies, platforms) that are unaffected by the moving time backwards. Later worlds introduce more complicated mechanics, but all in the same vein.

Tying the whole game together is a simple story reminiscent of the first Super Mario Brothers game, a hero seeking a lost princess, who he can never manage to find in any castle he encounters. Although the 'hero seeking a princess' story is a classic probably better suited to the 8-bit era of video games, Braid makes it work and even ties it to the time game mechanic. The true depth of the story isn't revealed until the final level, and it blew my mind when I saw it unfold.

Braid is a fantastic game with only one major flaw: It's short. I played through the game in about four hours. At $20, that's a pretty high cost per hour of entertainment, although it compares favorably with many movies. Anyone interested in fiendishly clever puzzles and game mechanics should definitely check it out. Braid is available for Windows (via Steam), OS X (via Greenhouse) and on a wide variety of console systems.

No comments: