|Genre: Puzzle & Trivia|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: G4 RAM: 512 MB|
Time travel has always been a popular science-fiction topic. It brings to mind the question, "What if I could change my past? What would I change?" The answer given in Braid is that you'd do your best to seek what you've lost, your princess. The princess is always in another castle, of course, so that translates into numerous mind-blowing levels using time travel in the most unexpected of ways.
It all begins as a screen with the Braid logo. You wait for a menu, realize the little shadow on one side is your character, and then start moving around. All the levels are organized into different mini-levels, ala Super Mario Bros, but there is one difference. All the levels you finish go towards unlocking the beginning of the story, not the end. This fits in with the whole time-traveling theme, but it's something you might not even notice at first.
All of the levels involve you finding a series of puzzle pieces and getting to the exit. Sometimes you even use the puzzle pieces to solve puzzles, so it's essential to get all the ones you can. You do this by using a series of unique powers, ignore time, reverse time, localized slow time, control time, and time shadow, by bouncing on the heads of psycho rabbits and killer sheep, and by thinking about puzzles in 4D. The first thing you'll notice is that there has never been a game quite like Braid. The puzzles often require thinking outside the box, and can look absolutely impossible until you get an inspiration like "hey, that looks like a bridge. I wonder if I can use that..." or "maybe if I sacrifice my shadow to bounce that sheep..." Sometimes you'll get stuck on a puzzle for hours just to realize that the solution was something ridiculously straightforward and sometimes you'll go through a complex series of movements on your first try, but there's no doubt that you'll enjoy every minute of it.
It's a shame there are so few minutes to go around, though. The game weighs in at around ten hours if you take your time, but can easily be over in a couple hours if you're good at figuring things out. It can take a little longer to get all of the secret stars, but it still doesn't last any significant length of time. This is about perfect for someone who takes games a small bit at a time, as it's greatly entertaining. If you prefer to dive in and play a game for hours on end, though, you'll probably end up being disappointed with the short length.
Braid also has excellent sound and music. The music shifts and blends with the passage of time, yet still manages to remain ambient and entertaining. There aren't many tunes for the game, but they all fit in with the overall mood and blend into the background as you struggle with doors and the occasional boss monster. The sound is equally atmospheric, albeit slightly sparse. There aren't many things that use sounds, but they all sound exactly as you'd expect.
The graphics are equally well-done. The game is done in a layered 2D style with high-quality sprites, a few particle effects, sparkles around time-immune objects, and floating text when you open a storybook. The entire style is very consistent and looks quite good, despite its simple nature. It's not as good as Aquaria, but it's definitely good enough.
In the end, if you like puzzle games or platform games in any way shape form, you should probably buy Braid. It's only $14.95, and is definitely worth the purchase. It may be short, but that short length is solid entertainment. Given the alternatives, you won't find anything better until Braid 2.
Pros• Unique gameplay
• Excellent presentation
• Low price
Cons• Short length