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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » I am going to tell you a lot about a game named Braid.

   
Author Topic: I am going to tell you a lot about a game named Braid.
Samprimary
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Actually, I am going to tell you very little about Braid. The less you know going in, the more rewarding your game experience is going to be.

The simplest details: Braid is a game on Xbox Live Arcade, or XBLA. You have to purchase it for $15 on an Xbox 360 that you have plugged into the internet. It may be available on other systems later. For now, this is the only place it exists.

Braid is a puzzle game and a platformer. It is difficult to describe except to say that it is the story of a little man named Tim who is trying to rescue a Princess. Tim has to run and jump around a series of worlds rendered in a beautiful impressionist style, and collect pieces to a puzzle. The difficulty in acquiring these puzzle pieces is that Tim has to manipulate time in a non-linear fashion in order to do so, and the different worlds in which Tim endeavors to collect puzzle pieces all have different and/or new rules by which time operates.

The end result is an amazing mindscrew.

I don't need to review Braid, just vouch it. It has already garnered universal acclaim and is (rightfully) the best reviewed XBLA title of all time. All I can do for you is confirm it deserves this acclaim.

Here are two sources other than myself talking about Braid.

The first: Dan Whitehead struggles eloquently to discuss the fact that he can hardly manage to describe Braid.

quote:
This is perhaps the nineteenth time I've started writing this review. If this were a montage in an old movie, this is the point we'd cut to the bin next to my desk, overflowing with crumpled balls of paper, torn in frustration from an imposing, mocking typewriter. Braid has filled my head with so many ideas, so many opinions, so many emotions that wrestling them all into a coherent critique is like trying to strangle a swan made of jelly. Every time I think I've found a mental strand that leads to the natural start of the review, it unravels. I've gone to bed thinking about Braid, and I've woken up thinking about it. From the fragments I remember, I'm pretty sure I've dreamed about it as well.

Braid is that sort of game.

...

I almost never give out full marks, generally reserving that honour for retro games that have proven their worth many times over, but Braid has me in its spell. Judged purely as a game, it's cunning, ingenious and endlessly surprising. The puzzles are varied, the level design is revelatory and the whole thing clicks together like clockwork. For those only interested in gameplay, it's simply an excellent puzzler-cum-platformer. But there's so much more here, a desire to create a game experience that is more than mere technical craft. That it succeeds in creating an abstract emotional experience, one where each player can find their own level of meaning and personal context, all within the confines of the 2D platformer, is perhaps the most astonishing achievement of all.

Braid is beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. It stretches both intellect and emotion, and these elements dovetail beautifully rather than chaffing against each other. Still wondering if games can be art? Here's your answer.

The second is Brad Being featured on NPR.

Now, let's say by chance I have managed to convince you to try to play Braid even though you have not heard of it before now. You will probably enjoy Braid. You may not, if you are fundamentally unable in any way, shape, or form to play 'those nintendo (video) games.' I know plenty of people who can't. You need some capacity to play video games. A minuscule amount. If you could struggle your way through the first two levels of Super Mario Brothers, you could (given enough time) beat Braid.

Think you're up to it? Okay. Here's the deal.

The most important point I can make is: what you get out of Braid depends on what you put into it. It is a puzzle game. I guarantee you that it will frustrate you. It's supposed to. It's about how well you eventually adapt to bizarre new time mechanics and manipulate them to solve puzzles which initially can look absurdly impossible. The game coaxes you to act upon ideas that other games have trained you not to consider.

Every time you solve these puzzles and successfully enact a run for a puzzle piece, you are treated to immense satisfaction. It is incomparable. The time mechanics of the different worlds are mindblowing and well-applied and may even mess with your normal thought patterns when you aren't playing the game. The surface of the game is a deceptively simple platformer with goombas, keys, and doors, but the gameplay underneath has you fracturing and restructuring paradigms. You master each world as you progress through it. And you love it.

So, if you're reading this, you have fair warning. The more you read about or watch Braid before you play it, the more you have lost. You can't feel that satisfaction if you merely replay moves someone has already shown you; spoilage is bad with this game. Do not watch videos of Braid. Do not watch other people play it. Do not read anything about it that may spoil you to the game's mechanics. It doesn't keep you hung on particular challenges that stonewall exploration. If you can't solve a puzzle initially, you can simply bypass it and return to it later once you have a greater mastery of that world's time mechanics and an eager idea as to how to revisit an intractable problem. Consult the game designer's strategy guide only as a last resort.

The visuals of the game are fantastic, all drawn by David Hellman of A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible. The story is noteworthy, too. It's very, very esoteric but never so abstract as to be irrelevant. The texts in front of each world do provide insight into the nature of that world's upcoming time mechanic and have an appreciably deep expanded context. Besides, if you don't give a crap about the story, the game never forces you to care or be stuck watching it.

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Lyrhawn
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There was an story about Braid on NPR the other day that made it sound pretty cool.

If I had an Xbox, I'd play.

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Samprimary
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Is it a different story or is it the one I linked?
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Strider
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I just spent 5 hours tonight playing this with some friends(after hearing the npr story the other day), and it was completely addictive.

Given some of the addictive online games that are sometimes posted on this forum, I think this game is right up Hatrack's alley.

Here's another cool game that Braid reminded me of a bit. http://www.kongregate.com/games/Scarybug/chronotron

It starts out pretty simple but gets really complicated as you go along. Braid while different, and larger, had a lot of similar elements.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Is it a different story or is it the one I linked?

My bad, I glossed over the second half of your post and totally missed that link. Yeah it's the exact same article. I heard it on my way home from work the other day.
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Kwea
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This is pretty funny.

(no spoilerage at all [Smile] )

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MightyCow
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I downloaded the game based on your suggestion. I was pleasantly surprised. Even before the first level was finished, I was surprised by a very clever puzzle. I found myself really enjoying the art and music.

Thanks for the recommendation. [Smile]

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MEC
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I'll second a recommendation of Braid, I mentioned it in mackillion's xbox 360 gaming thread, but it didn't garner much response as only Fitz mentioned having the game.

I've been having fun with Castle Crashers lately, it's sort of a side scrolling gauntlet game, with an emphasis on multi-player. Unfortunately it's being plagued by online issues right now, so you may want to wait to try it. I only mention it because like Braid, it is made by an independent team and the market price is $15 rather than Xbox live arcade's typical $10.

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Strider
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After two days of playing we finished the game. Now I think I need a spoiler thread to make sense of the story!
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aragorn64
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I'll buy it when it comes to PC. People can't seem to stop raving about it.
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MattP
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Count me in as one of the ravers. I loved Braid. It was the best gaming experience I've had since Portal.
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Sterling
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I'd probably buy it if they'd just come out with the PC version, already! [Grumble]
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String
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
After two days of playing we finished the game. Now I think I need a spoiler thread to make sense of the story!

Seconded
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Samprimary
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Just make it this one I guess.

anyway

SPOILERS WHOOP WHOOP SPOILERS

Braid is the story of the development of the atom bomb and the irreversible changes it made on all human conflicts. Tim's story is simultaneously his maddening scientific pursuit and obsession with controlling this power, and a very human story of a relationship (of some sort, likely romantic/estranged) breaking down due to his pursuit of the atomic superweapon, and/or a relationship with a world that runs 'contrariwise' to his perception of time.

Ok. That made it all make sense, right? Great. No questions? Didn't think so.

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