Game #30: Braid (2008)

braidCreator: Jonathan Blow
Language: English
Length: 6 worlds of varying lengths; 38 levels
Played on: 12 June 2015

It’s far from the first time that I’ve played this game – I played it a few times when I first got it in 2010, but that was before this blog started, so this is the first time I’ve reviewed it. I actually suspect that I’ve played it since then and not recorded it on my diary thing, because it’s quite an easy game to pick up and play within a couple of hours.

Braid’s central mechanic is that the player can rewind time by pressing a button. It’s simple to pick up. At first, it’s mainly just a useful way to not die, but later more mechanics are introduced, like a ring that slows down time, or parts that aren’t affected by the reversal of time, and the game becomes more of a puzzle. Aside from that, the game explicitly resembles and invokes Mario, such as having “goombas” that the main character can jump on to kill, and a series of castles at the end of a level where someone tells you the Princess is in another castle.

It’s a fun game, and actually I think one of the problems is that it’s over too quickly – there is no level editor and I don’t know about any modding, but that’s probably because the artwork and backgrounds are so lush that a fanmade level probably wouldn’t live up to it.

There are some bonus stars that you can find in the game – they’re so well hidden that when I went through to find them on my second or third playthrough a while back, I had to use a guide, at least to give me a hint of what to do. They make the game a thousand times more obnoxious, not just because they’re difficult to find, but because the game practically chastises you for having the audacity and single-mindedness to bother – like the creator considers gamers too nerdy for their own good. This is a bit rich when one star literally requires you to wait two hours standing in the same spot. You can chastise all you want, and you can put in such obnoxious obstacles, but you can’t have both.

Anyway, one more point about the game was that it came early in a wave of indie games that purported to push the boundaries of artistic expression in video games. Arguments abounded on the internet about the true meaning of the game – what the MacGuffin-esque princess stands for and all that. Apparently she probably stands for the atomic bomb or the Manhattan project, but I don’t see it. I’m hesitant to give the game too much credit in this area. And with a mixture of the violin soundtrack and the red hair, I pegged the main character as Irish to start with.

I will probably keep coming back to this game, and having not played it for a few years, it’s fun to rediscover it. But it could do with a sequel or some replayability value beyond the bonus stars and the time trials.