[GRWC8] Braid [Review]

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A.I.
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Post[GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by A.I. » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:10 pm

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Anonymous wrote:Braid

It’s amazing how much stir amongst the videogame community a little downloadable arcade title can cause. Much has been made of Braid’s inner workings and what everything means way beyond the surface. Perhaps it’s a sorrowful commentary on the death of the 2D platformer; perhaps it’s about love and how one man’s obsession with his ‘Princess’ could drive him further away from her. Or perhaps it’s all one big allegory for the Manhattan bombings and the creation of the atomic bomb. Who knows?

More importantly: who cares? The story is totally irrelevant when it comes down to the enjoyment you’ll find in Braid; it’s intentionally obscure (told through mini passages) and save for a genuinely stunning, jaw-hits-the-floor ending, the story is for the most part, pretentious throwaway garbage.

On its oil painted surface, Braid is a love letter to the days of yore when videogames consisted of running right and jumping over – or on top of – enemies and collecting shiny coins. The references to Super Mario Bros. are numerous and frequent. From the snapping carnivorous plants, the enemies that look mysteriously like goombas, to the flag and castle at the end of every world (of which there are 6). It’s a back to basics approach that can – if you really want – be the only approach you take with Braid. The game doesn’t force you to seek out all the jigsaw pieces that are scattered through the worlds in order to see the end (which is brilliant as already mentioned). But drill deeper, and Braid is not only a walking reference to games of the late '80s, but it’s also a time-skewing puzzle adventure.

And it’s here where this gem shines brighter than the majority of full retail games in shops. I won’t wax lyrical for the next paragraph as if Braid is the first title to utilise time bending mechanics. But I will wax lyrical about how well it’s implemented. As previously stated, each world has a number of jigsaw pieces that, surprisingly enough, fit together to paint a portrait (what the portraits actually symbolise is a matter of how far down the rabbit hole you feel like burrowing). Sounds straightforward in principle – putting it into practice is a whole different ball game, however. Braid will pull and twist your brain in ways you didn’t think possible; some of the solutions to the puzzles are as ambiguous as the book passages in the game’s epilogue. Expect to change and refit many a proverbial light bulb on your adventures through fits of ‘Eureka!’ moments, which is an emotion that makes all the proverbial (honest) tears worth it.

It could be said that a few of the worlds towards the end of the game are somewhat similar to earlier levels, save a different time manipulating technique for each. But it’s all so beautifully constructed that it is nigh on impossible to care. Every world is a masterpiece of construction all by itself, and coupled together, is a joy to behold. The colour palette extends beyond the industry norm of grey and brown, and the multi-layered set up of the backgrounds give Braid’s locales a sense of bustling life - even when time stands still. The animation is flowing adding to the almost dreamlike aura of the game and the soundtrack deserves a special mention too. A rousing score memorable enough for you to leave playing when in ear’s reach of your console, and catchy enough to hum to during your day’s activities.

Braid in many ways is this year’s Portal; not in the obvious sense but in the way it has burst onto the scene snatching most hearts that have given it the time of day, with nothing but plucky charm. It is a title for the modern age with all the heart and soul of the 8bit/16bit era.



All comments and feedback welcome. Thank you.

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Pilch
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PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Pilch » Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:59 am

Brilliant review. Concise, well written and I didn't notice a single typo or grammatical error to pick on!

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Skippy
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PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Skippy » Sun Aug 31, 2008 7:46 am

I was going to review this :x ;)

Back to the drawing board

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Eighthours
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PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Eighthours » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:10 am

The best piece I've read so far. There could have been more explanation about the different time mechanics and how they define the gameplay - it's a pretty big omission considering how integral the time stuff is - but the review's both nicely written and flows really well.

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Hero of Canton
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PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Hero of Canton » Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:43 am

Before I start being a bit picky, I have to say that this is far and away my favourite entry so far. It's generally extremely well structured and features some cracking writing. This is the target you need to aim for, folks. (Well, you need to aim even higher to win, but you get the picture.)

A couple of small things...

(told through mini passages)


Sounds a little clumsy. I know what you mean, but that's because I've played the game.

jaw-hits-the-floor ending


Might be just me, but I'd use something like 'jaw-flooring' instead, or even something simpler like 'dazzling'. Like I say, that might just be personal preference.

But drill deeper, and Braid is not only a walking reference to games of the late '80s, but it’s also a time-skewing puzzle adventure.


Can you explain what you mean by 'walking reference', as opposed to just 'reference'? Might be personal ignorance, but I'm not sure why you used that term.

And it’s here where this gem shines brighter than the majority of full retail games in shops.


'In shops' is unnecessary. The 'retail' covers that.

I won’t wax lyrical for the next paragraph as if Braid is the first title to utilise time bending mechanics. But I will wax lyrical about how well it’s implemented. As previously stated, each world has a number of jigsaw pieces that, surprisingly enough, fit together to paint a portrait (what the portraits actually symbolise is a matter of how far down the rabbit hole you feel like burrowing). Sounds straightforward in principle – putting it into practice is a whole different ball game, however. Braid will pull and twist your brain in ways you didn’t think possible; some of the solutions to the puzzles are as ambiguous as the book passages in the game’s epilogue. Expect to change and refit many a proverbial light bulb on your adventures through fits of ‘Eureka!’ moments, which is an emotion that makes all the proverbial (honest) tears worth it.


That's a really lovely paragraph. If I was being ultra-ultra-picky I'd have changed the second 'wax lyrical' to something that means the same thing. But that's just me being a twat. Brilliant stuff (I love the lightbulb and rabbit-hole bits in particular).

It could be said that a few of the worlds towards the end of the game are somewhat similar to earlier levels, save a different time manipulating technique for each.


Add 'for' after 'save' and 'in' instead of 'for'.

Every world is a masterpiece of construction all by itself, and coupled together, is a joy to behold.


The ONLY weak bit of the piece. The first part of the sentence doesn't quite sound right, and you don't say what it's coupled with.

The colour palette extends beyond the industry norm of grey and brown, and the multi-layered set up of the backgrounds give Braid’s locales a sense of bustling life - even when time stands still. The animation is flowing adding to the almost dreamlike aura of the game and the soundtrack deserves a special mention too. A rousing score memorable enough for you to leave playing when in ear’s reach of your console, and catchy enough to hum to during your day’s activities.


Again, great. I'd change 'the animation is flowing adding' to 'the flowing (or 'the flow of the') animation adds' though.

Braid in many ways is this year’s Portal; not in the obvious sense but in the way it has burst onto the scene snatching most hearts that have given it the time of day, with nothing but plucky charm. It is a title for the modern age with all the heart and soul of the 8bit/16bit era.


And closed off very nicely indeed.

REALLY sorry for being picky, but that's just because the rest of it is so good.

The bar has been raised, everyone. It'll take something very good to top this.

DML wrote:F'NARR!
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Suffocate Peon
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PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Suffocate Peon » Sat Sep 13, 2008 9:11 pm

Yeah, I really liked this, it's very readable. I liked the introduction and the closing line is superb too as a nice summation of the game.

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Kinetic
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AKA: Abraham, Son of Man

PostRe: [GRWC8] Braid [Review]
by Kinetic » Mon Sep 15, 2008 3:30 am

As has already been said, a brilliant piece, and one that's shot not just to the top of the reviews I've read, but potentially to the top of all the entries. My only real criticism would be that as someone who's never even seen a screenshot of Braid, let alone played the game, I'm still left rather clueless to the game's mechanics. There's only so much '2D Platformer' can explain to you.

That being said, fantastic work.


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