Braid Review

Kyle and I have been watching (and occasionally playing) Braid for more than a year now. Since a fateful meeting with Jonathan Blow at E3 introduced me to the game, it’s been love at first sight. As anyone who asked me about indie games (and later XBLA games) can attest: I could never say enough nice things about Braid.

And now, years later, Braid is released to the public via Xbox Live Arcade, making one of the most innovative and incredible games in quite a while available for everyone to download. Thankfully, people seem to be enjoying it. (I could write a big feature on certain people’s reviews I’ve read who bashed both Braid and Jonathan before the game was announced for XBLA, but we’ll let bygones be bygones.)

At its most simple essence, Braid is a platformer in the style of Mario and all of the Mario clones since then. Anyone who’s ever touched a game will have no trouble figuring out how to run, jump, and defeat familiar yet oh-so-different enemies. Where Braid begins to separate from the pack (including the iconic plumber) is with what’s beyond the platforming.

As you jump and run your way through each world, you’ll have the option to do more than just beat the game. Utilizing time manipulation and some of the most ingenious puzzle solutions I’ve seen in years, you can further unlock the story of the tiny protagonist Tim’s life, and the events leading up to his attempt to rescue the Princess. These advances take form in both reading portions before each new stage, as well as in jigsaw puzzle pictures, the pieces of which you unlock by solving…well, the game’s puzzles.

Braid features a nice assortment of time manipulation techniques in each of the worlds, and you’ll have to learn and know these different abilities to successfully complete the puzzles and challenges thrown at you. Whether it’s rewinding time to avoid death and make that long jump, or slowing time down to zig-zag through enemy fire, time manipulation plays a key role in puzzle solving.

To up the difficulty a notch, there are also time-exempt creatures and objects. What that means is that for some things, rewinding or stopping time has no effect; they ignore Tim’s powers. It adds a nice challenge in some stages, and keeps things from becoming stale.

One of my favorite things about Braid has long been the art. Seeing the game come from its beginnings to where it is now in terms of backgrounds, character design, and colors is breathtaking. It’s like playing on a living, breathing watercolor painting composed by a legendary master.

What you get out of Braid is determined entirely by what you put into it. If you run through and just traverse the platforming levels, you can clear the game in under half an hour, easily. If that’s the case, Braid’s an awful game, and definitely not worth the cost–but you haven’t actually played the game. If you take your time, find all the puzzle pieces, involve yourself in the story, and take the time to appreciate the worlds and characters within them, then Braid becomes infinitely more entertaining, and joins other recent masterpieces in being classified under the heading of “artistic.” Braid is, at this point, the only XBLA game I would consider a true gaming classic.

Buy it, and then tell your friends about it.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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