This week the XBLA game is Braid. Braid is, on its surface, a platform-puzzler … but it is so much more than that. While games like Prince of Persia (the 2000’s console versions, not the late 80’s game) dabble in the ability to control time, in Briad controlling time is an integral, essential part of the game. The ability to “rewind” is unlimited, back to the entrance door of each level. This, combined with some objects which are not effected by your control of time, makes for mind bending puzzles. It starts out slowly, introducing you to every element of gameplay from movement to jumping, then weaves in the control of time. Even if you are new to platformers, with a bit of eye-hand coordination and a lot of thought you should be able able to enjoy Braid.
If you just play through the first level (the “demo”) you will get a taste for what the game offers, but when you venture into later levels you will find stuff that really hurts to think about. Not since last year’s Portal have I found a game that really pushed me to think outside the box. Like with Portal, if you aren’t willing to stretch your imagination, you will never get through the game. Fortunately, the game is designed to be incredibly forgiving: try something: fail, rewind, try something else: fail rewind, try something else: success!
If you just look at screen captures, you will think the game looks simplistic. It is a 2D, mostly move left to right, climb ladders, etc. But , in fact, the game’s water-color-esque look with vivid colors and almost psychedelic animated backgrounds are beyond words. Georgeous. The game has some very amusing chacaters and enemies (the killer bunney-cat things are awesome) and the limited writing great.
While it is a touch on the pricy side for XBLA games at 1200 points and reportedly Braid somewhat short, the amount of brainpower and joy at solving the puzzles that will go into completing the game should be well worth the cost. Braid is a finely crafted experience. You will certainly get more entertainment from Briad than a trip to a mediocro movie, and the price is about the same. Downright cheap if the movie is on a date and you buy popcorn. You could easily play Braid with an onlooker helping you solve the crazy puzzles.