Braid
July 30, 2010

What an absolutely miserable week it's been. One I wish I could forget, and never will.

Anyway, I'm a bit behind the curve on this one but I just wrapped up Braid and I figured I'd blow a line or two on whatever the hell it was that just happened. Braid, as you all probably know, is an "art game," and I could tell because when it was all over I realized that it had a much deeper meaning that your typical Princess-rescuing platformer, and that I had no idea what it was. I have a few guesses, sure, but I've never really been a fan of interpretation. I like to know. But that's not going to happen because, like all good artists, creator Jonathan Blow isn't going to make it that easy. Rather than get caught up in that particular trap, however, I'll instead just tip my hat to his "more hit than miss" treatise on the nature of obsession and move on to an obsession of my own: Game boxes.

I waited for Braid to get a regular retail release because I like boxes. And to be honest, I don't like digital. Digital just doesn't convey that sense of ownership that comes from actually going to the store and laying down some bucks for something you can cart home in a bag. I've done it with similar titles in the past, like World of Goo and Plants vs. Zombies. And yes, I paid more for Braid in a box than I would've through Steam or somesuch, plus the time and expense of driving to the store to get it, but that's fine. Because I own it now. It's right over there, just above Cryostasis and Hawx.

It's mainly a psychological thing, I suppose, but that's obsession for you. And while I don't consider my thing for boxes an "obsession" by any stretch (more of a preference, really) it strikes me as a bit interesting how it's reflected in the theme of the game itself.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. And I cheated through probably half of the game with YouTube walkthroughs, which leads to some possibly interesting conversations about the nature and accessibility of art in games but is also a bit of an indictment of my mad gamer skillz and may further dilute my opinion. I dunno. Either way, that's something for next time.

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zippdementia zippdementia - July 30, 2010 (07:29 PM)
I used to have a thing for owning the hard copy of a game, too. I'm still not enamored by ROMs, which lose something in the translation I feel, but I'm growing fond of officially downloadable titles for the console.
sashanan sashanan - July 30, 2010 (08:08 PM)
I needed a little more help on Braid's puzzles than I strictly like. I have some gamer pride left, but on the whole I find it more important to keep moving on a game while it still holds my fickle interest. In the end I figured out enough on my own that I don't feel too dirty, the concept was interesting, and the final stage brought a big smile to my face at the twist as it happened.

I am aware of the deeper dimension the game is supposed to have but to be honest? I don't really care much about such things in my games. Braid can be appreciated on several different levels, and I did it on the gameplay.
- - - July 30, 2010 (08:19 PM)
I am aware of the deeper dimension the game is supposed to have but to be honest? I don't really care much about such things in my games. Braid can be appreciated on several different levels, and I did it on the gameplay.

100% agreed with this.
Lewis Lewis - July 30, 2010 (08:44 PM)
Yeah, what is wonderful about Braid is that it's as deep as you want it to be. It's an incredibly smartly designed game. It's beautiful to look at and listen to. And there's a fascinating story to dig into as well.

(It is a shame the writing's so abundantly atrocious, though. I'd have liked to have seen what Blow could have done with purely visual storytelling, a la Machinarium, or Limbo.)
Malygris Malygris - July 31, 2010 (12:08 PM)
I am aware of the deeper dimension the game is supposed to have but to be honest? I don't really care much about such things in my games. Braid can be appreciated on several different levels, and I did it on the gameplay.

I felt the opposite way, actually, and I'll probably blab about that in a later blog post. The gameplay didn't really turn my crank (I'm not really a platformer fan), I was in it for the experience of the story. And I came away very satisfied. The twist in the last level was great. I don't expect I'll ever play it again but I have no regrets about putting in the time required to finish it. (Even with extensive YouTube help.)

As you say, it reflects very well on the game because it can be enjoyed on so many levels. You enjoyed the gameplay, I enjoyed pretty much everything but the gameplay, yet we both came away happy. It's an impressive achievement.
Malygris Malygris - July 31, 2010 (12:10 PM)
I used to have a thing for owning the hard copy of a game, too. I'm still not enamored by ROMs, which lose something in the translation I feel, but I'm growing fond of officially downloadable titles for the console.

I may reach that point someday. Even as a "box fetishist," I have to admit that it's becoming a bit inconvenient having these things piled up all over the place. But they're so pretty...

On another note, boy, I sure wish there was a quote function for these replies.

*edit*: Yeah, I guess this old-fashioned cut-and-paste stuff works, sorta...

zigfried zigfried - July 31, 2010 (04:27 PM)
I'm playing Braid. I'm standing on top of a locked door, waiting for a slow-moving cloud to pass by so that I can pick up a star. I think I have an hour-and-a-half to go.

This is fun.

//Zig
Lewis Lewis - July 31, 2010 (08:24 PM)
@Malygris -- Don't get me wrong, I thought the story was fantastic. The writing, though - the actual text between the levels - was diabolically bad.
sashanan sashanan - August 01, 2010 (10:18 AM)
I'm playing Braid. I'm standing on top of a locked door, waiting for a slow-moving cloud to pass by so that I can pick up a star. I think I have an hour-and-a-half to go.

This is fun.


That is a fine example of why I consider achievements completely optional. It feels like something that was added just to see how crazy we are.
jerec jerec - August 01, 2010 (10:39 AM)
You don't get achievements for that stuff.
sashanan sashanan - August 02, 2010 (09:09 AM)
You do on Steam.
jerec jerec - August 02, 2010 (09:19 AM)
Aww, really? Xbox only has 200 points... the hardest one is probably the speed run, which I haven't done yet.
Malygris Malygris - August 02, 2010 (02:26 PM)
It feels like something that was added just to see how crazy we are.

And that ties in rather nicely with the nature of the game, doesn't it? I take it for granted that that was one of Blow's points: To make the stars as difficult as possible to collect so that only the truly "obsessed" will end up with them.

I didn't even know about them, actually, until after I'd finished the game and started to dig into its background a bit. There's absolutely nothing said about them (that I saw, at least) in the retail version of the game. Perhaps if I had, I might have been a little more obsessed about them myself. :)

Malygris Malygris - August 02, 2010 (02:30 PM)
@Malygris -- Don't get me wrong, I thought the story was fantastic. The writing, though - the actual text between the levels - was diabolically bad.

I didn't think it was that bad overall. There were some dodgy bits, yeah, and Blow obviously overreached at times in an attempt to be poetic or profound, but on the whole I thought it fit reasonably well with the game itself.

I may be more forgiving than I should, though, because I enjoyed the overall experience so much. That's actually something I should touch on too...

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