I must admit, when I was given the opportunity to review Braid I wet myself with excitement. Not only did I know nothing of the game prior to my playing of it, but the honour and respect it has ascertained from many of the industry’s aficionados made me believe I was in for one hell of a treat. Once again – the general public, fellow reviewers and most importantly designer Jonathan Blow have let me down, and what I was once lead to believe as being a work of genius, is in actual fact far duller than watching paint dry (it’s an old saying, I’m bringing it back… frak you. )
It’s always best to start on a positive, and what a positive it is! The ending of Braid, I can safely say – is one of the best endings in video game history. Without giving anything away, it is without a shadow of a doubt the most unexpected and most intelligent ending I’ve ever experienced in my many years of gaming. I feel that every gamer out there should at some stage have the opportunity to play the game just for its conclusion. It saddens me then to think that in order to get to that stage; you must endure hours of what can only be described as head-boredom.
Yes, Braid is a game touted on its originality and visuals. It plays like the lovechild of retro Super Mario, the latest cell-shaded Prince of Persia and LittleBig Planet – and that’s no bad thing. You hear gamers’ complaints all the time, “It’s not about the graphics, it’s about the gameplay,” and this is a biggie for me when it comes to reviewing. Yes, Braid looks special – taking place within a painterly world with interesting characters and design features, but at the end of the day it’s just a dull, dull game. The level of intelligence required to complete some of the puzzles in no way hinders your enjoyment, but its repetitive nature and relatively average conundrums leave you feeling just plain bored. Braid is simplicity at its best, using the X/Square button to rewind time in the event of death, the analogue sticks to move and A/X to jump. Simplicity is effective in games such as Mario and LittleBig Planet – as they were games created with innovation in mind. The worlds, bosses and gameplay of Mario defined a generation, and LittleBig Planet was so successful at what it did that Sackboy became the mascot of Sony’s PS3. Braid does nothing except regurgitate essentially another Gameboy Mario title, with more of a story and better visuals. I saw that Jonathan Blow created and funded Braid – and that’s admirable. We are in need of fresher, more independent titles – but developers really do need to get their thinking caps on, because Braid plays like one of those flash games you can find and play for free on the net.
It also does little to excite and reward its players, and seems to pompously rely on its time reversal technique and artsy visuals. Oh yes, and that’s my final quarrel! Braid seems proud to boast ‘you can do so much original stuff, like reversing time!’ on both their website and trailers as one of their marketing reasons for you to purchase the game. Hang on a second… Are we just completely over looking Prince of Persia? Do we all suddenly just stop and think ‘Well Mario could never reverse time… Woah – this game’s onto something!’ NO. So stop bragging about it Braid, and get back to the drawing board.
For people who enjoy intelligent, yet unnecessarily complicated narratives and repetitive puzzle-solving gameplay – Braid will be your chocolate cake. However for people who enjoy a varied experience with their gaming, with lots of content to keep you hooked and immersed – then I sincerely suggest you look elsewhere, as Braid seems to lack in major departments… like Profiteroles filled with air.