Braid

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When we play games these days, we’re nearly all treated to the gloomy and grey world to escape from the gloomy and grey reality…does anyone see anything weird about that. Though it’s absolutely fine, it’s fantasy after all. I came across a game where it takes you to utter haven…and then turns into gloomy and grey, but makes you think, like reading a good book, then you go to do your errands and the story is stuck at the back at your head…until you forget about it somehow. And we have Braid, created by Jonathan Blow with a budget of $200,000 OF HIS OWN MONEY; dang son, but it was worth it as it became very successful. The game was released in 2008 for Xbox Live Arcade, but a year later was ported to PC, Mac, PS3 and Linux in 2009 an was ported by Hothead Games.

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Now because of the nature of the game, I’ll explain the game very differently. You are Tim, a short portly young man it seems. You start walking to your house and you enter a heavenly place with books, they explain that you have to rescue a princess, but you start in the second world, meaning that the story as the levels go by make no sense and the story should only make sense as the game progresses.

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You enter the door on the right and you enter a platformer, you walk around and jump on what look like goombas. The objective of the game…should you choose to accept, is to collect puzzle pieces, collecting all the pieces in each world will let you put each of the pieces together to make a picture.

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But oh no, you made a mistake and you died. However, there’s one feature that makes the game so memorable is the time manipulation abilities Tim possesses. He can rewind and reverse time to his needs, so if you died or made a jump too early or too late, you can rewind and try again, though later in the game, you need to use these abilities to get puzzle pieces.

These puzzles are pretty good and they can be very challenging. And THEN there are ones that are just insulting to the ordinary gamer. Case in point, Fickle Companion, where you got to get a key to a locked door, but the key moves about randomly and the game doesn’t explain why this happens and a lot of gamers like me have been stuck on it. There was one I forgot where you have to jump on a goomba, but you need him to live but you need to get up top a platform with a key but you need the enemy to get the key, so you need to jump a certain way and in a certain direction…I don’t know, I managed to do it based on sheer luck, it can be annoying. But somehow you don’t have to do most of them, if at all, though you need to collect them all to unlock the last stage, Stage 1, yep, the last stage is the first stage and kind of explains the…well let’s just say that it gives a middle finger to the Mario series.

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The story is…ambiguous, when reading the books, they read like a novel but it’s told with such mystery and with psychological elements. What the story means or what the story is about, is up to you if you can figure it out. Problem is that the story doesn’t really blend in with the game except for the final stage. But if you want some more of the story, then you need to collect hidden stars…and they are insultingly hidden, not once did I ever find one throughout my playthrough. In The Cloud Bridge there is a cloud at the end of the exit, but why is it there? So you can jump on it, but you can’t at the moment. Guess what you have to do? You have to wait for the cloud to move to the other side of the level and this takes roughly around…TWO HOURS!!! Mr Blow, can I just say your game is good but err…this is just stupid, it’s like Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors’ Desert Bus, though it’s much shorter but you can’t do anything for a long time, at least in Desert Bus, you had to hold the button to accelerate the bus and move it so it doesn’t crash into a ditch.

Back to positives, the level design is beautiful, but can get muddy at times, but I love the design, with the watercolour effects and sometimes the parallax scrolling works, though sometimes it kind of doesn’t work. Nevertheless, it’s one of the best looking games out there. The music is one of my favourites…well only one of them is my favourite, it’s mostly classical music and some other genres; however, they’re not original music, they’re licensed music from Magnatune artists who comprise of Cheryl Ann Fulton, Shira Kammen and Jami Sieber. These songs were chosen to both reduce development costs and to give levels different types of atmosphere.

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Overall, is a masterpiece? No. It’s very good but it’s really, really flawed and a lot aspects of the game doesn’t make sense, but it’s nice to think about it once in a while. A lot of gamers play games for the graphics and from what we’ve seen, it doesn’t always work and gamers fall for it, seeing the beauty and not realising that they’re getting screwed. But for the one who does care about games, behind beauty, there are flaws. And they’re pretty ugly, and Braid is a decent example. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, it has so much potential and lives up to it but potentials don’t always mean true perfection, but that’s OK because I still enjoyed the game. So for recommendations, I got the PS Store port for £2.40 at a sale, the full price is £7.99 and for that, it’s a little too much, I’d say £5 and under, it’s a really short game.

You can get on Xbox 360 (XBLA), Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and PlayStation 3 (PSN).

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