Braid

Ok, first I want you to take the original Mario game for NES, then I want to you get Friedrich Nietzsche to direct the game, Claude Monet for graphical design, add a moody soundtrack, a metaphor for taking back regretted actions and what is your end result?

super-mario-braid
At the release of Braid, the eyes of Nintendo’s lawyers resembled dollar signs.

Not quite the above, but pretty close to it. The end result is Braid, the first and so far only release from Number None Inc., A.K.A. Jonathan Blow. You play a man named Tim who may or may not be a plumber (his job is unspecified) as he searches through various worlds for a princess. Your relationship with the princess is vague at best, though there definitely was a relationship. She might have been fleeing a monster or have been kidnapped by a monster.

The important thing to remember is that this game is saturated with metaphors, Jonathan Blow himself stating that there is more than one interpretation of the story (here is the nuclear bomb interpretation).

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This is about as simple as this game gets.

There are three main metaphors to grasp here:

  1. The first is the time manipulation. At first, you just have the ability to rewind time. In each new world, another aspect of time manipulation is added. There are objects that can exist outside of time, levels that chronologically progress as you move forwards or rewind as you move back, worlds that leave echos as you rewind, etc. Each world has a different title, linking to new time element. The one where the level progress as you move forwards and called “Time and Place”. The mechanics of the worlds are a metaphor for the titles.
  2. The next metaphor is the game itself being a statement on modern game development, contrasting an old and over-used style of game (the side-scrolling platformer of Mario) with new and unique elements that in my opinion, make this a new game which invokes a lot of nostalgia.
  3. The last metaphor is puzzle pieces. The whole aim of every level within each world is to collect puzzle pieces (somewhat reminiscent of Banjo-Kazooie) and put together a puzzle which represents a forgotten memory, perhaps the ones which hint at why the princess is gone in the first place.
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Every room representing a different memory in the broken relationship of Tim and the princess.

It needs to be noted that this game is challenging. In fact, it is quite hard. I only managed to complete the first puzzle, and that was only by chance working that the completed part of the puzzle affected the level around it. You might like this, or you might not. I enjoyed it since it was a nice change from the normal side-scrolling platformer where you have to time your jumps perfectly to avoid the floating axes dodge the landmines. I actually have to think about what I need to achieve and usually reverse-engineer my moves from there. The game isn’t very long, but then just depends on your problem solving abilities.

Also, the game has nice feature where it automatically loads the game to where you quit. No menus or anything which is refreshing when you just want to play a game. I highly recommend this game and for only $10, it is a very nice addition.

Braid is currently available from their website for $20, Steam for $9.99, Gamers Gate for $9.95 or XBLA for 800 points.

braid

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