The Best Case For Games As Art - Apozem Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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The Best Case For Games As Art

Apologies for posting this in the blog section. Unfortunately, GI does not have a user review section for Braid. Hence why I posted this as a blog. It's also my first real attempt at a more concise style of writing. Ernest Hemingway is the man. Love to hear some feedback, tell me what you think in the comments.

Anyway, the review.

Braid

Concept
An existential journey 
to find something 
that may not exist 

Graphics
Beautiful brushstrokes 
and lovely colors 
adorn Tim's world 
Sound
The classical 
soundtrack feels 
artsy 
Controls
Simple and easy to use 
Technical
No issues whatsoever 
Replayability
Limited, although 
superfans should 
take a look at the 
constellation outside 
the house 
Overall Score

8.5 

 


There's an ongoing debate whether games count as art. That discussion is a matter for another day. The definition of art is too complicated for a single game review to properly discuss. However, if there was a single game which could be held up as a shining example of games being art, it would be Braid. 

Jonathan Blow's critically acclaimed indie hit is layered with complexity. Braid does not simply entertain, it provokes thought. The game is ostensibly about a man named Tim trying to rescue a princess. This allusion to gaming's golden past breaks down as you progress.

The story (told through text boxes before each world) changes slowly into something different than what I expected. The final level is the pinnacle of this change, forcing you to reconsider everything you thought you knew.

Braid's true genius lies in its postmodern deconstruction of the traditional idea of a video game. It takes the traditional story in gaming and presents it in a radically different way. There are many impressive parts to Braid, but the story stands as the strongest. Puzzling out gems of meaning from cryptic messages is enjoyable.

The gameplay of Braid is enjoyable as well. It is a 2D platformer that takes a few obvious cues from Super Mario. The game is divided into worlds, which are divided into levels. Each world ends at a castle. Every castle has a creature who tells you, "The princess is in another castle."

...or something along those lines.

Other than those minor homages, Braid breaks new ground. Tim is gifted with the ability to rewind time. This makes death a minor obstacle rather than a level-ender. Falling on a pit of spikes means a quick rewind, no restarts necessary.

You would be excused for thinking Braid is easy. Without death, how can the game be challenging? The difficulty comes as puzzle pieces. Each piece requires solving a unique puzzle. You can complete Braid only after finishing all of them.

The puzzles are impressive. Each one feels unique. Mechanics are never repeated, but they are expanded. Solving each one requires a good bit of thinking and ingenuity. I admit that I could not collect the last few pieces without the help of a walkthrough. The puzzles are certainly challenging. Thankfully, the level setup allows you to bypass head-scratchers and come back to them later.

Solving Braid's challenges never feels too frustrating. The gorgeous art and soothing music creates a calm atmosphere. Like Bastion, Braid's art eschews realism in favor of in bright colors and aesthetic beauty.

As an artistic experience, Braid is an unquestioned success. However, the game falls short within its medium: gaming. Braid is not an especially fun game. The puzzles are excellent and the platforming is acceptable, but this game is unexciting. No one would pick Braid for a fun Friday night gaming session with friends.

All the same, Braid is worth playing. The story is fascinating. The puzzles are complex. The art and music are appealing. All of that adds up to make one of the most uniquely compelling experiences in gaming. If you do or have ever believed in games as art, Braid is something you need to experience.

Now, where did that princess go? She was just here... 

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