Rewind Review: Braid (XBLA)
Braid is a puzzle/platformer where you manipulate time in order to help main character; Tim, save the princess of his dreams from an evil monster. Tim’s motivations are hinted throughout the game with text passages in each world hub. In case you still haven’t played Braid, we’ll keep story elements vague to avoid spoiling the experience. Along your journey, time manipulation mechanics will build and evolve in each world making Braid and incredibly unique experience that stands out as one of those games that players will likely never forget.
Here’s what we liked:
An incredible look – The art and design in Braid is beautiful. Slight movements will cause the background images to come alive and appear in motion at all times. The entire game has a “hand painted” feel making it stand out against virtually every game ever released. The look of Braid is so refreshing and unique that it will be the first thing you’ll notice while playing and it will constantly be grabbing your attention as you progress through the game.
A one-of-a-kind story – The story in Braid has created more debates and discussions than any other game of the present generation. So many gamers interpret the story of Braid in so many different and creative ways. No matter how you interpret the story, one thing is for sure; you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the ground near the end of the game when a major plot twist takes place. Prepare for your mind to be blown.
Perfect difficulty – Braid forces players to think way outside of the box on many occasions. But the difficulty of Braid is very comparable to the difficulty in Portal. Very rarely is actual skill required to complete a puzzle. Braid focuses more on deep thought than it does twitch reactions. This makes Braid an enjoyable experience for any type of gamer with any level of gaming skills.
The game mechanics are also very easy to understand. Considering how complex each world sounds and looks at first glance, it’s quite an accomplishment to gradually teach gamers how to apply their new found time manipulation powers with ease. Puzzles slowly gain complexity in each world creating a great sense of pacing. A lot of puzzle games have unnecessary spikes in difficulty and Braid avoids that design flaw with perfect flow and the ability to leave tougher puzzles behind for later solving. Returning to a difficult puzzle hours after your first encounter often provides an opportunity to look at the puzzle in a completely different light and that’s a great option for players to have.
Hidden meaning – One of the truly great things about Braid is the fact that every little thing has meaning. A single flower may seem meaningless at first glance, but after some time spent thinking, it actually marks the perfect spot to deploy a magic time ring. The slightest environmental queue can even lead to the discovery of one of the eight hidden stars, which are all extremely difficult to find. Everything in Braid has meaning, everything. Exploring every hunch you have is highly encouraged.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
No replay value – The only downside to Braid is the fact that you won’t be able to unlearn the puzzles once you’ve completed the game. After you play through the entire game once, there’s really not much left for players to do. There are eight hidden stars and speed runs with leaderboards included to give incentive for a second play-through, but no real value is added to the game by these features. Braid is more of a one-time experience than it is a game that players will want to master with months of practice. Even though that approach works quite well for Braid, some gamers may still be turned off by a one-time experience.
Overall, Braid is not only one of the best games on XBLA, it’s simply one of the best games ever on any platform. With an incredible look, solid controls, a quality soundtrack, great pacing and amazing story, this might be the easiest game to recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in gaming. You are doing yourself a disservice if you have not yet played this game. And remember that if you are late to the party and you are now playing through Braid for the first time, please don’t look up the solutions on YouTube. Not knowing the solutions to these puzzles is an innocence that you’ll never get back once you’ve witnessed each solution for the first time. You MUST buy this game and you MUST solve each puzzle on your own if you want the full experience.
Score: Buy It