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    bdrx's Braid (360)

    [April 24, 2009 02:48:35 AM]
    -- Overview --
    Braid is a 2D puzzle platform where the objective of the game is to "rescue" the princess by to collecting puzzle pieces scattered throughout the game by solving various challenges.
    Like a typical platformer, such as Super Mario Bros, the player runs, jumps, and climbs through various levels while defeating enemies. However, the unique aspect of Braid from the traditional platformer is that the focus of Braid is actually solving puzzles. While timing jumps from various platforms and killing enemies are involved in solving some of the challenges, the game does focus on these aspects.

    --Game Play--
    As in typical platformers, in Braid the player moves through levels by moving a character left and right, jumping, and climbing up and down ladders to different platforms. However, in Braid the player must do more than just kill enemies and reach the end of the level; in each level jigsaw puzzle pieces are scattered in various locations which must be collected in order to beat the game. The fun and challenge is overcoming various hindrances which prevent the player from getting these pieces. Not only does getting the piece require figuring out how to overcome the challenges, but a certain amount of timing is required.
    Braid has several design features which make the game fun and interesting. The fundamental unique game element of Braid which enables the game's distinct challenges is the player's ability to limitlessly reverse time in order to undo one's actions, even after dying. Because of this mechanic the player can never die or lose, yet the game is still challenging. The puzzles are entertaining and challenging because they require ways of thinking beyond the obvious. Most puzzles are solved by manipulating time in one way or another by either rewinding, creating parallel universes, or slowing time in certain areas of space.
    The game is spacially divided into an overworld and six puzzle worlds: Time and Forgiveness, Time and Mystery, Time and Place, Time and Decision, Hesitance, and the final world. From the overworld, which is Tim's houses, each of the other worlds can be entered through doors in the house. Each world has a different time-based game mechanic and have to be solved in different ways. The first world, Time and Forgiveness, is just like an ordinary platform game, except that the player can rewind, fast forward, and freeze time. The second world contains objects which appear that are unaffected by rewinding. In the next world time is linked to the direction the character's moves on the level; when moving toward the right, time flows forward and when moving toward the left, time flows in reverse. When standing still time is paused. In Time and Decision, the fourth world, after the player rewinds time a shadow of the player character appears and performs the actions the actual player performed before rewinding. In Hesitance, the player is given a magic ring will slow the flow of time around itself when dropped. The final world time flows in reverse.

    Not only does Braid consist of solving puzzles where the player has to use these various time mechanics of the worlds, but the player also has the initial challenge of figuring out the what the mechanics each world are and how they work; when the player starts playing Braid, the only instructions given are how to move left and right and how to jump, so even figuring out how to play is a puzzle. Even though the game does not give much instruction on the control and how to play, the learning curve is very low; the controls are easy to learn, and the mechanics are very intuitive and also easy to figure out.

    -- Plot --
    The player takes the role of a character called Tim who is searching for his princess. The story as a whole is vague and leaves much to interpretation. What is told makes it clear though Tim has made a mistake that harmed his relationship with the princess and which he plans to reconcile. As Tim travels through the six game worlds more insight is given about Tim's relationship with the princess, but even at the finish of the game the plot is ambiguous. The story leaves much to be explored by psychological and literary analysis and conveys several themes of human emotions such as forgiveness, grief, and happiness. In each of the various worlds, the story provides real-world metaphors for Tim's time manipulations which are also projections of the real-world themes of a world where various consequences to an action can be explored. Because the plot is so open ended, the conclusions of the story are endless and depend almost entirely on each individual's personal perception.

    The artwork in Braid partly cartoonish which gives the game the appearance of being a child's game, yet the artwork has a unique artistic style. The artwork in each level gives the player the feeling of actually being in an abstract painting. Braid does a good job of using the art to set a particular mood and atmosphere for each of the different worlds. Depending on the type of puzzle being solved, the colors and lighting will be completely different. Most of the levels use calm, cool, and vibrant colors and shades like blues and greens to set a relaxed atmosphere where the player feels as if he or she has all the time in the world. On other levels such as the final one, a very rushed and apprehensive mood is set by using harsh shades and hot and dark colors such as reds, oranges, and blacks. Although the graphics are not highly realistic, the artwork is done very well and creates a excellent looking game.
    The sound also does a great job at setting the atmosphere of the game. Most of the levels have very slow, serene music once again conveying the idea that the player is in control of time. On a few levels to convey a sense of urgency, harder music with more beats and a more upbeat tempo is used. Another interesting aspect of the sound which adds to the game play elements is that the direction of the music follows the direction of time the character is moving in the game; so, if the character is moving forward normally through time then the music plays forward, but if the character is moving back through time the music is played in reverse. While this feature helps elaborate the time travel mechanics, at some points this was very annoying when frequently traveling back and forth in time repeatedly in short segments.

    The game play in Braid is very slow and slightly uninteresting at the beginning but quickly picks up in difficulty. The combination of the timing of a platformer with the challenges of a puzzle create a very interesting and fun game. The puzzles are both unique and challenging and require thinking in a way most puzzles do not require. Although not much instruction is given on how to play the game, the learning curve is very low, yet the game play is very complex. The plot is very vague, but has a lot of underlying depth and theme; the story provides interesting insights in relating the game and its mechanics to the real world. The artwork and sound were well done and do a good job at setting an appropriate atmosphere for the player. Although the length of the game is relatively short, overall the game is well polished and well executed. If you are looking for an action game then Braid is not for you, but if you enjoy puzzles and challenges then you should definitely play this game.
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    bdrx's Braid (360)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 15 April, 2009

    GameLog closed on: Friday 24 April, 2009

    bdrx's opinion and rating for this game

    Very interesting concept and unique, challenging puzzles.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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