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Braid

PC (Number None, Inc. 2008, GNU/Linux version 2010)

The big G-S-G-S-G

General opinion: Relatively short, but unique puzzler
Story: Strange and different
Graphics: Quite pretty
Sound: Nothing wrong there, either
Gameplay: Simple, but interesting and challenging

Total:

The Review

The unique puzzle/platformer hybrid Braid has been one of the most acclaimed indie games of recent years. I got it as part of the second Humble Indie Bundle, so of course I had to try it out. I'm not usually a huge fan of puzzle games, but it proved surprisingly addictive.

The game's controls are similar to most platformers. Basically, you can just move around and jump. Except there's one additional, crucial feature: you can wind back time. This feature not only makes it impossible to actually 'die' in the game, but is a crucial element in solving many of the game's puzzles (certain stages also feature other unique mechanisms, which mostly also involve time). And yes, while superficially it may look like just another platformer (there are even obvious Mario references in the game), it's really all about the puzzles. The platforming action itself is, for the most part, fairly easy. To beat the game, however, you need to collect a number of jigsaw pieces, and reaching many of them will require some thought and experimenting.

Visually it's quite pretty, with a nice hand drawn look. Screen scrolling was slightly twitchy when I played it, but this may have been my computer's fault. The music also suits the atmosphere of the game quite well. The back story, despite the aforementioned Mario references, is also pretty unique, being rather mature, even existential, if you will. Superficially it's about a man looking for a princess, but... Well, that's about all I can say about it. The story's hardly the main point of the game, however. (I only gave it half a star mostly because it could have maybe benefited from a little more attention, and better integration into the game. But it was still... interestingly different.)

It's not a long game, but its length will of course depend wholly on how co-operative your brain feels. I beat it inside two days, and it posed a reasonable challenge, as well. Most of the game was fairly pleasant, but there were a few bits that were somewhat on the frustrating side. I'm glad I stuck with it, though, it was an interesting experience. But I'll be happy if I don't see another puzzle in a good while... Replay value for this type of game, of course, is not terribly high. I may replay it someday, but likely not very soon.

Ben B. Bainton, 30 September 2011