Thursday, March 5, 2009
Video Game Review: Braid
This was a video game review I wrote for fun awhile back. I just thought I'd post it here for memory's sake.
Is there anything that this game doesn't do right? With an amazing art style, a great score, mind-bending puzzles, and an ending that I think that I will be contemplating for the rest of my life, Braid breaks the boundaries of what is expected in an Xbox Live Arcade game.
Braid tells the story of Tim who is looking for the Princess and traverses 6 different worlds to find her. It follows the traditional Super Mario Bros.; at the end of each world the player will arrive at a castle, raise the flag, and be told that the Princess is in another castle. But the puzzles here are the real highlight. Tim has the unique ability of being able to rewind or stop time. I know, I know, you're already thinking that they stole this idea from the Prince of Persia series. But where Prince of Persia used this ability to amplify the action, Braid uses it to amplify the puzzles. Each world changes with the technique that you must solve the puzzles. One world stops moving when your player does. Another world gives you a bubble ability, where you stand in the bubble and are able to rewind time and stay stationary while everything else reverts back to how it was. I had to think for so long about some of these puzzles and some of them require that. Other puzzles require perfect execution and still others require pure dumb luck. Even with the ability to rewind and stop time, you will still be sweating as you try to perfectly execute what needs to be done to solve the puzzle.
The theme of the game deals with the past and with memory, and how revisiting those memories can help us truly understand them. This theme works beautifully with the puzzles and action of the game. And yes, Braid does re-ignite the "video games as an art form" debate and I ask why not? With games like this one and Bioshock, where it is impossible to deny that they have something more to say than just delivering an amazing gaming experience, pretty soon it will be impossible to deny that video games are an art form that are capable of giving the same experiences one can have when viewing a film, painting, or hearing a piece of music. Braid is the best game I've played so far this year (2008), and even though the holiday season has a lot to offer, Braid is still sure to hold up well against all of them.