Braid
April 11, 2009

Incredibly, I'd managed to avoid almost everything Braid-related until it hit the PC. I read one review and decided to stop scurrying around for more information: it was clearly a game I wanted to try first-hand, without any of the hype prejudicing my view. I knew it got ten out of tens across the board. I knew the story split opinion something rotten. I knew it was a platformer about time-manipulation. And that was it.

I've been playing for... well, not long at all, but I'm sensing this could be something I quite like. I immediately think back to Janus' user review here, and his dislike of the decontextualised, arbitrary narrative. And I can't help but think that's the point of Braid, immediately. The whole game is a giant metaphor, a big meta-hulk of fourth-wall breaking, convention-shattering reference to both videogame and, particularly, teenage culture. "The princess is in another castle," you're told incessantly. Every time you get to a castle, she's not there. And, well, basically:

Braid is a game about apparent hopelessness. It's a big, emo, crumbling wall of misplaced, hasty emotion. It's about painfully longing for a goal that seems unattainable. It's horribly pessimistic, but the way it so frequently removes you from its world and allows you to change key aspects of it means we can change this hideous outlook. And it becomes incredibly optimistic.

I dunno. Christ. This is after, like, half an hour of play.

I actually don't like the base-level platforming. It's sluggish. Maybe that serves an interpretive purpose in itself. I can't help but think if we could combine this with tight pacing of the other platformer I'm playing at the moment - And Yet It Moves - I'd pop from excitement.

But I sense I'm going to like Braid a lot anyway. A real lot.

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EmP EmP - April 11, 2009 (06:07 PM)
I had to do a radio review on Braid completely on the fly with so little time to play the game that I was more or less still playing it while talking about the bloody thing. I rambled a lot with filler about Indy games by my thoughts boiled down to:

  • Stupidly pretentious plot that doesn't even bother to hide the fact it doesn't link up or make sense.


  • Annoyingly awesome game


  • Maybe I'll put it in writing someday.
    Lewis Lewis - April 11, 2009 (07:08 PM)
    "Stupidly pretentious plot that doesn't even bother to hide the fact it doesn't link up or make sense."

    Oh God you're like Janus!

    See my new comments on his reviews (amounting to longer than the review itself - now that's pretentious) on why I just don't understand this viewpoint. My only criticism of Braid is that I've finished it. (Superficially, anyway - there's a hell of a lot I didn't do - but a couple of hours is disagreeably short when it's trying to say so much.)

    I thought the story was reasonably easy to piece together. It's a technique that's been used loads before. Hell, it's essentially Fight Club in a different setting and with a different message: that odd, schizophrenic shifting between characters who aren't actually unique characters. I think it's very smart, but that the story is about intrinsic human regret makes it very stomachable. I find it uncomfortably pessimistic, and the ending made me feel really sad. But I can't criticise the game for that. That's an overwhelming success.
    EmP EmP - April 11, 2009 (11:57 PM)
    Balls to you, Lewis -- I had to form tangiable opinions as I went along! It was a sodding nightmare!

    Bitching aside, the plot just felt completly seperate to the game. It was like you did this level then some story played which had nothing much to do with the level you just played and then you played another level which had little to do with the story you'd just had to sit through.

    It felt kind of like playing Doom then getting a little chunk of Xenogear's story before going right back into the second level of Doom. It was all unconected and loose.
    Halon Halon - April 12, 2009 (04:32 AM)
    Braid: 5/10
    Lewis Lewis - April 12, 2009 (09:54 PM)
    Really?

    I could understand going as low as a 7 or as high as a 9. The "best game EVAH!" and "average-at-best" viewpoints don't make much sense to me. I'm so blinkered.

    "Bitching aside, the plot just felt completly seperate to the game. It was like you did this level then some story played which had nothing much to do with the level you just played and then you played another level which had little to do with the story you'd just had to sit through."

    That's a major failing of Braid, to me. It's what makes it absolutely not a ten out of ten game. But it's actually surprisingly rare for games to work their stories and gameplay in very closely together. In a lot of great games, the actions and stories are completely incongruent. I think that Braid's gameplay and story are both so good makes their separateness cut through a little too much.
    Halon Halon - April 13, 2009 (03:00 AM)
    I just thought the gimmick got old really fast. Maybe the plot/atmosphere is good but I really don't care for that in games.
    Lewis Lewis - April 13, 2009 (08:47 AM)
    That's a shame.

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