Braid: A good game, but not without some rather big flaws.

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If you haven't heard of Braid, you haven't been paying attention to anything game-related of late: I mean, the game's only been trumpeted all over. However, for those of us who don't like keeping up on their news, Braid is a game made by Mr. Jonathan Blow, a rather big critic of some parts of the games industry.

The game is rather simple in premise: and the instructions you recieve are in line with that. All the buttons you'll use on your keyboard are the arrow keys to move, the space bar to jump, and the Shift key to rewind time. The controls are strangely compelling, ringing of a time in games when instruction manuals didn't have to be 32 pages long. It's like playing a NES game, and for that I give Blow a thumbs-up for actually following the motto of KISS, something that isn't as prelevant these days in games where you can have a controller with about 22 methods of input, or use most of the keys on your keyboard(looking right at you, MMOs and Crysis). It's a game that focuses on complexity through simplicity, as evidenced by the game's levels. Each set of levels (six in total) focuses on using a different time mechanic that ties into that level's story thematics. For instance, in the set named "Time and Place", where the story discusses how places evoke times and memories in our hearts, the mechanic for the level is that walking forward advances the flow of time, while walking backward does the opposite. It's a deep and compelling twist on how the story in a game can reflect the gameplay, and I admire it deeply.

image

Now if only I weren't so tall... then that key would be easy pickings.

Everything in Braid seems to have been constructed to give a sort of storybook feel to it, as though the game jumped out of a collection of child's fairy tales. The main character, an enigmatic man named Tim, is out to rescue a princess that was kidnapped by a terrible monster. The art helps to support the feel that the story gives: it's decidedly like a drawing in a children's book, or art from a painting of a magical world. The music also does its part to support everything: it's full of violin bits that just feel EPIC in some way, and I must say that I've never heard a bedtime song used in such a somber and menacing way in one of the earlier levels. The only gripe I really have about it is that there are so few derivations in the enemy art: there are really only two enemies you see throughout the game, repeated constantly. I can understand the desire for simplicity, but I really wanted to see MORE of the creatures in Braid. I really suppose that is my main complaint about the game really: it suffers from not having enough.

You see, while the time puzzles in Braid are very effective at being clever and difficult, anyone with decent puzzling skills will be able to beat the game in no time flat. I cleared the game in only six and a half hours, which for 15$ just feels too short, especially since Braid draws you in so well. It's a game that just needs to be longer in every sense, and once you "finish" the game you're left feeling decidedly unsatisfied.

You see, once you beat all the main levels you're treated to one last epilouge level. Up till this point in the story the entire thing has been told to you through several books: and the trend continues here. Beforehand, I was entirely willing to read about the past, but for the ending of the game I wanted something more: even just some narration added to the text would have sufficed. The game even cheats you of a proper ending too. Let me explain: up until this point, the only thing that you know that you had to collect in the game were puzzle pieces, which you use to build a set of paintings which help build a ladder to reach the final level. When you reach the end though, several of the books that you activate to read the text for the story are mysteriously empty. This is because there are several secret stars hidden in Braid that the game TELLS YOU NOTHING ABOUT. To be honest, I thought that the game was over, and that pissed me off. Why did the story here make no sense? Why was it so disjointed and broken? I couldn't believe it. Thankfully, a person posted a video up on Youtube explaining why the books were empty. I thought to myself: Hmmm. Well, if the stars are easy to get, and just require a bit of exploration, why not try and find them? Well, because I had never even seen a hint about these, I found another Youtube video that thankfully contained several levels of spoilers as to where the stars were located, for those who wished to try getting them themselves. I managed to acquire a few of these after some mild frustration, but the rest eluded me. I then spoiled it for myself: I wanted some closure from this game, no matter the price. And the horrors shocked me. You see, the rest of the stars that I had yet to obtain were not worth the investment involved in time and dedication. For an example, with mild spoilers:

image

Prepare for some old-school rejections when trying to find the damsel in distress.

The stars in the end are just not worth it, and that makes the game up till that point feel soiled in some way. It's like giving you a cake that tastes excellent, but the icing supplied to frost it is the icky kind: fluffy, and it tastes synthetic to the extreme. And the only way you can eat any cake is if you frost it first.

If the ending wasn't such a load of crap, and it weren't reached so quickly, I'd give this game my highest recommendations. But the game isn't worth 15$ due to these problems. Instead, I'd say it's only worth ten. Wait till it goes on sale, and get it then: but don't expect the experience to end well unless you're willing to suffer for it.

Editor's Edit: Stuck in a line about the muzak that I forgot to include. WHOOPSIE! Also, stuck an extra line between the pictures and captions.

Extra Edit: Edited the title for posterity. It feels better now... Though I wish that there was a pun I could've thought up. Humor center of the brain not working as well as it should be today. Also, the second image would not load for some, so it was swapped out for another picture/caption.

Nice review! I bought Braid some time ago, but got away from it to play Fallout 3 instead. Unfortunately I have a habit of stop playing puzzle games when I get to some place I can't figure out, and then just forget about the game and move onto something else. I probably just need to play more puzzle games.

Anyway, the review. I haven't actually finished the game yet (see above), so I can't comment that much the story, but I completly agree with you on the music part. It is truly epic.

Oh god... did you just mention FLAWS and BRAID in the same sentence?

Such a thing will bring on the apocalypse!
Repent! Repent your sin!

sneak_copter:
Oh god... did you just mention FLAWS and BRAID in the same sentence?

Such a thing will bring on the apocalypse!
Repent! Repent your sin!

I refuse, on the grounds that my ego is so massive, it collapsed into a black hole long ago. Ergo, anyone who dares attack me will be swallowed up :D

But to be serious, it has flaws. Namely being too short, and having a bad ending for anyone not willing to spend RIDICULOUS amounts of time on it.

Snuggle:

Anyway, the review. I haven't actually finished the game yet (see above), so I can't comment that much the story, but I completly agree with you on the music part. It is truly epic.

You get to the level where the music only plays right when time is rewound? It's such a good song...

No, at least I don't remember it. But then, it's been about two weeks since I played it last. What level is it?

Braid had a pretty awesome story

its a good game

Snuggle:
No, at least I don't remember it. But then, it's been about two weeks since I played it last. What level is it?

Dunno. It's probably pretty far in... in fact I think it's one of the latter levels. Just look out for a level where the music only plays correctly when time rewinds: it's a very energetic song.

antipunt:
Braid had a pretty awesome story

Riiiight up till the end I'd agree with you. When you hit that epilouge, it was like a wet sponge to the face.

ryai458:
its a good game

Agreed, but it's not worth 15$. If it were a little longer and didn't end so poorly, I'd say "Buy it now!". As is, it stays as "Wait until it goes on sale".

scotth266:

antipunt:
Braid had a pretty awesome story

Riiiight up till the end I'd agree with you. When you hit that epilouge, it was like a wet sponge to the face.

Dude, lol. The ending was the best part

antipunt:

scotth266:

antipunt:
Braid had a pretty awesome story

Riiiight up till the end I'd agree with you. When you hit that epilouge, it was like a wet sponge to the face.

Dude, lol. The ending was the best part

I assume you managed to get all the stars then? The ending I reached was rather lame sauce...

scotth266:

antipunt:

scotth266:

antipunt:
Braid had a pretty awesome story

Riiiight up till the end I'd agree with you. When you hit that epilouge, it was like a wet sponge to the face.

Dude, lol. The ending was the best part

I assume you managed to get all the stars then? The ending I reached was rather lame sauce...

I think the game was lame all around....mainly the story. It also doesnt help that Blow's ego is bigger than the Gallagher Brothers ego. But the music was good.

Steam price is actually good in Europe. 12,99 Euros for an indie good. Its not great price like Audiosurf but its not a bad price like World of Goo(Really 20 euros?)

But anyway good review! 4 starts and half cause the 2nd picture apparently isnt working. :P

oliveira8:

Steam price is actually good in Europe. 12,99 Euros for an indie good. Its not great price like Audiosurf but its not a bad price like World of Goo(Really 20 euros?)

But anyway good review! 4 starts and half cause the 2nd picture apparently isnt working. :P

Huh, isn't the euro worth quite a bit more than the dollar? Ah well. Here World of Goo is $20, and Braid is $15. So not much of a price difference...

The second picture isn't working? Hit refresh. I don't see any problems... Then again, maybe only I can see it: it's the PICTURE WHISPERER! Seeing ghosts of pictures that aren't really there!

I had to use the width and height code to adjust the size though, perhaps that fucks with some people's browsers? If it continues to bugger up, quote me and I'll grab another one if I can find it. I like getting 5 stars damnit!

scotth266:

oliveira8:

Steam price is actually good in Europe. 12,99 Euros for an indie good. Its not great price like Audiosurf but its not a bad price like World of Goo(Really 20 euros?)

But anyway good review! 4 starts and half cause the 2nd picture apparently isnt working. :P

Huh, isn't the euro worth quite a bit more than the dollar? Ah well. Here World of Goo is $20, and Braid is $15. So not much of a price difference...

The second picture isn't working? Hit refresh. I don't see any problems... Then again, maybe only I can see it: it's the PICTURE WHISPERER! Seeing ghosts of pictures that aren't really there!

I had to use the width and height code to adjust the size though, perhaps that fucks with some people's browsers? If it continues to bugger up, quote me and I'll grab another one if I can find it. I like getting 5 stars damnit!

In Steam $1=1€ apart from some games aparently like Braid and some Valve games. Also I hit refresh plenty of times and nothing. Got Firefox.

oliveira8:

In Steam $1=1€ apart from some games aparently like Braid and some Valve games. Also I hit refresh plenty of times and nothing. Got Firefox.

Crap on a biscuit! Ok then, I'll see if the interwebz can procure a solution.

Edit: Try it now...

scotth266:

oliveira8:

In Steam $1=1€ apart from some games aparently like Braid and some Valve games. Also I hit refresh plenty of times and nothing. Got Firefox.

Crap on a biscuit! Ok then, I'll see if the interwebz can procure a solution.

Edit: Try it now...

AH! it works now...But now you get 3 stars! Cause you used that picture! urg urg urg!

(kidding xP)

oliveira8:

AH! it works now...But now you get 3 stars! Cause you used that picture! urg urg urg!

(kidding xP)

I was about to say, nobody cannot appreciate that reference. But I'm glad it works now... Hopefully anyone who strolls in here and read it already isn't too confoosed.

scotth266:

But to be serious, it has flaws. Namely being too short, and having a bad ending for anyone not willing to spend RIDICULOUS amounts of time on it.

I thought part of Braid's appeal was that it doesn't overstay its welcome, does a very simple concept extremely well and that's it. It's no shorter than Portal is, in fact, you can draw lots of parallels between the two despite the fact that they're completely different games. $15 for such a game isn't too bad, really.

As for the ending, I never collected the stars either but I found the ending satisfying enough (the twist ending in particular). I haven't put the time to getting all the stars but everything I've heard of it basically makes it sound like it sort of sours the original ending of the game.

scotth266:
Wordy.

The only problem I have with your review is that in today's game market, where we pay 60 dollars for a 10 hour game, you're complaining about a 15 dollar game being 6.5 hours long.

And the stars are completely optional. I didn't even know there were stars until I read a gamefaqs plot analysis that briefly mentioned them.

On the other hand, your review did explain most of your complaints quite well, so nothing said wasn't in some way justified. Plus, it was really just quite well written.

All in all, it REALLY is a good game. Personally, I enjoyed the ending, except for the stars bit...that, as you said already, was kinda the icing on the bullsh*t cake. The gameplay was in depth, which really is rare in a game so seemingly simple. It reminded of Portal, in ways...I felt smarter after completing Portal, and Braid knocked me back down a few pegs. It was also well balanced...some puzzles I flew through without actually realizing a puzzle had been sent my way, and others I was stuck on for literally HOURS. It does have it's problems, but personally, I'd give it a 8.5 out of 10. Although, I suppose that coming from a guy who really does just game, and honestly doesn't care if anyone gives a sh*t what he thinks, really doesn't matter.

braid sucked. it is repeditive, and somthing else.

I played the demo, and loved it, but I can't knowingly support someone as conceited as Jonathan Blow. What a fitting name.

$15 bucks? I got Fracture for $10.83 and am still playing it ;D But seriously, I enjoyed the review. I feel compelled to say that I wanted to hear just a little bit more about the gameplay other then it being a puzzler with time elements thrown in. I personally have never played the demo, and have no interest in the game, but I'd just like to hear how well it controls and what not. I've heard all the praise for this game, and its good to see someone not get taken in by the hype. Collectibles in games that are like the ones you've explained are god awful. Fracture has this as well, 100 "data cells" to be precise. Thankfully, they aren't vital to the story. They only open up more "weapons" in the weapon testing area. I'll be sure to explain this all in my review though.

Once again, good review. Keep 'em comin.

Awesome review. I'm a fan of puzzle games and the simplicity of Braid allowed me to concentrate on the actual puzzling, after all less is more. However at the time I was inundated with about 3 other games for my birthday so am now playing it at intermittent bursts.

The music was epic and really atmospheric, as you said the fairytale feeling is really emphasised by the design and the storytelling method.

I did find the story somewhat unnecessary if quirky, for me it sort of felt like it didn't really make sense. But I'll give it this, it was intriguing and compelling, if it had been reformatted as a book I would be totally enthralled. It did seem to link to the gameplay, but I could have done without it. But as I said I haven't finished the game so my pronouncements doesn't really hold much gravitas, but it's the impression I got.

The puzzles themselves were deceptively simple in appearance, but require a lot of thought, or maybe I just need to do more puzzles.

Personally I didn't really connect with the character, but maybe I'm not supposed to and my expectations of depth in a game of this sort are overly demanding.

But hey I thought the review was awesome, really enjoyed it and I plan to read more of your reviews. Well balanced and in depth so keep typing(sorry if I sound a bit pompous but it's the only way I know).

Woe Is You:

SNIP

That much is true: Braid doesn't overstay it's welcome. But to me it felt like it left the party early. As for the price, I only said to wait till it's $10, as it's definetly worth that much. Some people however will find $15 to be a little too high for what this game delivers. And the stars RUIN the ending? Well then, considering I didn't like what I got for the ending as is, I'm definetely not picking those up...

Smurfy 0151:
All in all, it REALLY is a good game. Personally, I enjoyed the ending, except for the stars bit...that, as you said already, was kinda the icing on the bullsh*t cake.

Like I said, I'd give this thing a "buy it now" if the ending weren't such a wet blanket and were reached so quickly. It really does have the Portal feel to it: it challenges your mind very well.

Leorex:
braid sucked. it is repeditive, and somthing else.

I disagree: every set of levels is unique: and all the puzzles have a different objective or a old objective used in a new way. But you're entitled to your opinion :D

meatloaf231:
I played the demo, and loved it, but I can't knowingly support someone as conceited as Jonathan Blow. What a fitting name.

I have to admit the man's got a ego, but like all critics he does bring up the ocassional valid point. But yeah, he's a bit of a snob :D

Mr.Pandah:
I feel compelled to say that I wanted to hear just a little bit more about the gameplay other then it being a puzzler with time elements thrown in. I personally have never played the demo, and have no interest in the game, but I'd just like to hear how well it controls and what not. I've heard all the praise for this game, and its good to see someone not get taken in by the hype. Collectibles in games that are like the ones you've explained are god awful. Fracture has this as well, 100 "data cells" to be precise. Thankfully, they aren't vital to the story. They only open up more "weapons" in the weapon testing area. I'll be sure to explain this all in my review though.

Once again, good review. Keep 'em comin.

Ah, as far as the controls go: they're spot on. It's very tight, and the fact that you can rewind your screwups makes it more a challenge of the puzzle at hand than a challenge of fighting your keyboard. And yes, these types of collectibles can go die in a fire, especially when there are achievements attached (Crackdown's agility orbs... WORST THING EVAH). Glad you enjoyed the review!

Mr.Pandah:
$15 bucks? I got Fracture for $10.83 and am still playing it ;D But seriously, I enjoyed the review. I feel compelled to say that I wanted to hear just a little bit more about the gameplay other then it being a puzzler with time elements thrown in. I personally have never played the demo, and have no interest in the game, but I'd just like to hear how well it controls and what not. I've heard all the praise for this game, and its good to see someone not get taken in by the hype. Collectibles in games that are like the ones you've explained are god awful. Fracture has this as well, 100 "data cells" to be precise. Thankfully, they aren't vital to the story. They only open up more "weapons" in the weapon testing area. I'll be sure to explain this all in my review though.

Once again, good review. Keep 'em comin.

Great review. I loved Braid. Were you playing on a console or PC? I actually didn't have a problem with the limited enemies (but I've played some triple A titles with about the same amount of variety), or lack of ending, for this game I was fine with that. I would have liked it to be longer, but I felt I got my money's worth.

PLEASE review Frontlines next. I loved that game and I think I may be the only one. I wouldn't mind seeing a Far Cry review (if its of the original or Instincts).

CountFenring:
Great review. I loved Braid. Were you playing on a console or PC? I actually didn't have a problem with the limited enemies (but I've played some triple A titles with about the same amount of variety), or lack of ending, for this game I was fine with that. I would have liked it to be longer, but I felt I got my money's worth.

PLEASE review Frontlines next. I loved that game and I think I may be the only one. I wouldn't mind seeing a Far Cry review (if its of the original or Instincts).

Well, I meant that there are only really two of them: the rabbits and the brain dudes. I don't count the plants: they're more of a hazard than a enemy. Even just mixing up the colors on the enemies now and then would've been nice...

Ok then: Frontlines and Far Cry have been bumped up in the queue. See? Pester me and I reward you, people! Splinter Cell and Hitman were also requested, so they stay up there too. The rest are available to swap though based on forum request! So please say which one you would like done next if you want me to review it sooner :D

scotth266:

CountFenring:
Great review. I loved Braid. Were you playing on a console or PC? I actually didn't have a problem with the limited enemies (but I've played some triple A titles with about the same amount of variety), or lack of ending, for this game I was fine with that. I would have liked it to be longer, but I felt I got my money's worth.

PLEASE review Frontlines next. I loved that game and I think I may be the only one. I wouldn't mind seeing a Far Cry review (if its of the original or Instincts).

Well, I meant that there are only really two of them: the rabbits and the brain dudes. I don't count the plants: they're more of a hazard than a enemy. Even just mixing up the colors on the enemies now and then would've been nice...

Ok then: Frontlines and Far Cry have been bumped up in the queue. See? Pester me and I reward you, people! Splinter Cell and Hitman were also requested, so they stay up there too. The rest are available to swap though based on forum request! So please say which one you would like done next if you want me to review it sooner :D

Splinter Cell and Hitman are too samey... Both Stealth games, both not that great.

You can probably copy paste the both reviews and change just "Professional payed Assassin" with "Goverment Agent."

Do Jade Empire first!

So in order to get one of the stars you have to restart the whole game?

That's a whole new level of poor game design.

I'm no pro critic, but this games controls possibly the easiest of any game I've ever played. The gameplay is...decently paced...you will find yourself feeling in over your head alot, and then feel like a champion when you reach the top of that obstacle, just to be knocked on your ass again as you look at the next one.

Internet Kraken:
So in order to get one of the stars you have to restart the whole game?

That's a whole new level of poor game design.

Yup, if you didn't know it was there the first time through, or stuck any of a certain number of pieces together, you basically have to restart the game. Not cool beans chief.

Smurfy 0151:
I'm no pro critic, but this games controls possibly the easiest of any game I've ever played. The gameplay is...decently paced...you will find yourself feeling in over your head alot, and then feel like a champion when you reach the top of that obstacle, just to be knocked on your ass again as you look at the next one.

Once again, a nice summary of how the game makes you feel :D
By the way, what is with that random quote box up above? You just quoted somebody and then said nothing...

oliveira8:

Splinter Cell and Hitman are too samey... Both Stealth games, both not that great.

You can probably copy paste the both reviews and change just "Professional payed Assassin" with "Goverment Agent."

Do Jade Empire first!

That one I've been meaning to do for awhile. I probably will do it next in fact, assuming that it wants to be written. Then I'll do a Manga Mashup most likely, to give people a taste of what they'll be like, and then it'll be back to the queue.

Damn. My net musta farted. I had like 2 paragraphs talking about the control scheme of the game, and how it worked so well...then THAT happened...

Smurfy 0151:
Damn. My net musta farted. I had like 2 paragraphs talking about the control scheme of the game, and how it worked so well...then THAT happened...

I've gotten the 404 on some lengthy posts as well, so now I always copy before posting more than a few sentences :D

scotth266:

Smurfy 0151:
Damn. My net musta farted. I had like 2 paragraphs talking about the control scheme of the game, and how it worked so well...then THAT happened...

I've gotten the 404 on some lengthy posts as well, so now I always copy before posting more than a few sentences :D

Yeah, I need to start doing that. Thanx for the heads up.

Great review, though I loved the ending with all it's symbolism. The stars are a pain though.

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