Most platformers these days focus on the hero’s journey, but little show the hero’s motivation and driving force. Braid looks to change that as it dives deeper into the main character’s thoughts and past. This brings a whole new level of depth to basic side-scrolling platformers as one solves the challenging puzzles and reveals the mature story.
Tim is the protagonist in Braid that players will be controlling throughout the game. Early on players are informed of a mistake that Tim has made that has cost him his love. He visits different worlds hoping to save the princess from an evil monster. Before entering each world a grouping of books can be read to allow the player better insight on Tim’s thoughts which also begins to reveal the bigger picture.
When it comes to gameplay Braid is like Mario with a Prince of Persia twist. Tim’s powers revolve around rewinding time. So if you make the mistake of jumping into a pit full of spikes you are not given a “Game Over” screen or forced to start the level over again. Instead the player is prompted to press the rewind button. This helps reinforce the story since the books convey Tim’s longing to go back and fix his mistake. There is no gauge to watch since the rewind power is unlimited. This is most welcome since the puzzles in the game will have you trying multiple different techniques until you find one that helps you obtain a puzzle piece. Each world gives Tim a variation of the rewind power. One world fast forwards as Tim moves forward in the level and rewinds if he backtracks. You can expect a good variety in how you will approach each level.
The graphics in Braid are gorgeous. The colors are vibrant and the background in reminiscent of watercolors. This gives the game a unique look. Each of the six worlds has a beautiful presentation while still being able to differentiate itself from the previous world. Tim and other characters, including enemies, stand out against the background with their bright 2-D forms. When time is in the process of rewinding the background drains the color a little so it fades and sinks back until the normal pacing of time is restored.
Every sound in Braid fits the action perfectly. Whether its a stone door slowly closing, Tim bouncing off an enemy, or the pop of a cannon creating more opposition you will find each noise to be appropriate for the actions on screen. The music in the game is very calming and does a wonderful job of further creating a calming atmosphere. Also, if the player rewinds time at any point all audio rewinds as well. It is worth noting that the music being played backwards is an intriguing sound.
Braid’s story may seem simplistic at first, but collect every puzzle piece and you will be treated to a much more engrossing story. It is uncommon for games of this genre to contain such a strong and mature tale. Learning the meaning behind the books’ text and Tim’s quest for the princess is extremely rewarding.
$14.99 might be a bit much for people to dish out without knowing much about the game. If you run straight through the game without putting time in figuring out how to get the puzzle pieces, then the game can be completed in about 15 minutes. At a dollar a minute for gameplay this would definitely not be worth it for those who are not looking to rack their brains over each puzzle piece.
Braid is a unique game in almost every aspect. If you enjoy the old school Mario feel or just need something fresh to liven up your downloadable game collection, then definitely check this out. Regardless of the $15 price point Braid contains one of the most intense stories and must be experienced to appreciate all it has accomplished. Do not let this one pass you by.
[Editor’s Note: Braid was reviewed on a PlayStation 3 platform.]