Braid is an emotionally resonant experience that tries to convey a message through its mechanics and that’s an achievement in itself.
Most people remember Braid as the title that started the indie revolution. After all, this was probably one of the first indie titles to become massively popular. Soon after launching on Xbox Live Arcade, not only did Braid sell thousands of copies, but also gained the approval of both critics and fans of platformers. But Braid is more than and indie darling and a traditional platformer. Although it follows some of the genre’s conventions (and mocks others,) Braid is more than a game where you jump over platforms, defeat enemies and turn back time: this is an emotionally resonant experience that tries to convey a message through its mechanics and that’s an achievement in itself.
In Braid, you assume the role of a suit-wearing man named Tim who sets out on a quest to rescue a princess. The princess was kidnapped by a horrible monster soon after Tim ruined the relationship he had with her. But unlike the average protagonist of a platformer, Tim doesn’t want to save the princess for glory. He’s looking for forgiveness; he’s looking to amend the mistakes he’s made when they were together; he wants to restore that relationship.
Like most platform heroes, Tim can jump, climb, defeat enemies, collect items and so on. But unlike most of those heroes, Tim also has the ability to manipulate time and use it to his advantage. When he dies, for instance, you can turn back time using the shift key. Not only is this mechanic useful to bring Tim back to life, but also to solve most of the puzzles that punctuate this adventure. Throughout each of the sections you visit, you collect pieces of a puzzle and once you have all the pieces, the finished painting reveals more details about the story. Naturally, completing all the puzzles is necessary if you want to see Braid’s true ending.
As you make progress, new mechanics come into play and the cerebral puzzles always keep you on your toes, but thankfully, you’ll never feel stuck. Some are more obscure than others and some can be solved by means of trial-and-error, but moments where you are helplessly stuck are rare. One of the most welcome aspects is that you can finish the game at your own pace and if you don’t want to collect every single piece of a given puzzle, you can always come back later.
Braid isn’t just mechanics though. In fact, the game is more about the story of a relationship gone sour than anything else. Braid has a lot to say and it does so through its mechanics. Braid is a game that examines and explores someone’s convoluted relationship and this encourages introspection. In other words, this is an evoking and thoughtful experience unlike any other. One of Braid’s best features is that every level, every mechanic and every world represent a part of Tim’s relationship and while some of those aspect are more difficult to interpret than others, the game’s painstaking attention to detail is simply staggering.
But Braid can’t be explained in terms of simple mechanics, story, characters, graphics and music. Although disguised as a traditional platformer, Braid tries to convey a message. To do so, the developer uses conventional means such as mechanics, story, characters, graphics and music. But when all of those elements come together, you realize that you’re in front of something special and simply unforgettable.