The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 12
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.
ConceptAn existential journey to find something that may not exist
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."
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
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
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...
Nice blog/review. I just started replaying Braid, I find games like this are more enjoyable and easier to study after their first playthrough. And since I'm doing a research study on games and art, I just recently read an article that proposed a couple interesting questions: "do games have to be fun?" and "would games be easier to accept as "art" if they didn't have to be fun?"
Braid is definitely too hard to be much fun at all, in my opinion, but it is a good example, no probably the best example, of video games as an art form. Good Review, and I'm glad I didn't skip it like I was going to when I saw "Video games" and "art" in the same sentence.
This is a superb review as usual. I think I'm definitely going to need to check out this game since it's been getting such praise.
Nice review! You brought up some great points. Braid isn't the most fun you'll have in gaming, but it is a gaming experience that I would recommend to just about any gamer.I enjoyed the writing style, but I must say I do enjoy your previous style of writing as well.
I remember playing Braid last year. I never thought it could be a case for the whole "video games are not art" debate, but it really is. Braid is a beautiful painting that's come to life. I know this is somewhat off topic, but your Hero Picture of Bastion reminded me that that game is beautiful as well. Anyway, nice review. :)
If dozens of artists working on a game are working years on end to create something, how can the final product not be considered art?
I love to see people bringing this topic up and showing the old farts like Roger Ebert how wrong they are. Amazing examples.