‘Is this a dream?’ you ask yourself as you examine your surroundings. There’s a giant picture frame, a cannon shooting out clouds, and castle off in the distance. Making your way there, you notice some discarded puzzle pieces. Perhaps the pieces belong to the person in the castle… Venturing onward you see a local approaching. Short in stature, you notice he has no body, just a head and feet. Sticking to political correctness, you don’t bring his size up but instead ask him if he knows where you are. He speaks no words and continues to walk straight toward you. It becomes clear he’s not going to stop. You leap in to the air to prevent him from shoving into you, but you were never athletic is a boy. Gravity returns you to the ground, meanwhile stomping the strange dwarf into oblivion.
Now that you’re a murderer, your stroll toward the castle becomes a sprint. Before you reach the castle door, a friendly looking Dinosaur approaches. He’s no doubt witnessed your cold blooded act. Before you can decide whether to make him ‘Number 2” or not, he speaks up and says “Press X to Unlock the Full Game”. With the potential of getting some answers, you press X. Welcome to the world of Braid.
Playing through Braid is similar to watching a silent movie. Much of the story is experienced visually, with the text aiding what you see. Silent movies tend to come on old film, so occasionally the projection will mess up and you will have to feed the film back to a point where everything is correct in order to progress. And while on the surface one might say that they would prefer a new age, big budget ‘Talkie’, if they stick around until the end of the film they would probably have a more enjoyable time than they would have in most films of today.
Braid is a relaxing game. The art style and music help this along, as does the fact that you can’t really die (pressing X rewinds time). There’s not much danger because of this, so you can take your time figuring out how to solve a puzzle. If you’re stuck on a certain puzzle, you can skip it entirely (in most cases) and return to it later. Although, at the same time the story had me wanting to continue on at a fair pace.
The game is at it’s roots is traditional platformer (aside from the time elements), where you will collect puzzle pieces that you assemble into a full picture that helps to explain the story a bit more. Collecting certain pieces can provide challenging, but when you figure it out you feel proud of yourself. Much like this element, you’ll find that the text given from books at the beginning of each world also needs assembling like a puzzle. In the same regard collecting all the bits of text, and putting it together in to your interpretation of what the story means is just as rewarding as solving the physical puzzles in the game.
Overall Braid is a brilliant game that let’s you figure things out on your own, at your own pace. The sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when solving a difficult puzzle is very rewarding. When you finish Braid you begin to formulate your interpretation of the story told, which not many games do these days. I look forward to what ever comes next from Number None, as I’m sure that it will evoke similar feelings.
After completing the puzzle in this area, you notice that it’s a painting of you with a princess. Memories rush to your head. You’re in search of the Princess! She must be the one that lives in the castle! You bound towards it, but before reaching the door, once again out comes the friendly Dinosaur. “I’m sorry, but the Princess is in another castle.” he states. With your goal in mind, you open the doorway to the next world ready to do what ever it takes to get to your Princess.
Braid is available right now on the Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points.