games / Reviews

Braid (PSN) Review

January 28, 2010 | Posted by Armando Rodriguez

Game: Braid
Developed by Number None
Published by Hothead Games
# of Players: 1 Player
Genre: Platformer/ Puzzle Solving
Rated E 10+

About a year ago a little game called Braid came out for the Xbox 360 and became not only one of the best downloadable titles released for the system, but one of the best games, retail or otherwise. Now Braid has arrived on the PS3. The game is largely unchanged and brings the same art style, mature storyline and fantastic puzzles to Sony’s console.

There are so many awesome things about Braid that I don’t know where to start. The unique, almost hand-drawn look of the art style is the first thing that will catch your eye. Braid looks like a moving children’s tale, with pastel watercolors and simple character designs. I have been one of 2D gaming’s strongest defenders and Braid proves that a 2D game with a unique art style can be beautiful and awe inspiring in this modern age of 3D and photo realistic character designs.

However, where Braid excels is on the gameplay department. Yes, Braid borrows liberally from Super Mario Bros. Tim, the main character, has to rescue a princess and some of the enemies look directly taken from Nintendo’s fat plumber, like the man-eating plants that pop out of green pipes and the game’s lion-headed baddies look like hairy goombas. There is even a flag pole at the end of levels that you can jump into and a dinosaur that looks like a brown Charmander greets you at the end. They even borrow the classic “I am sorry, but the princess is in another castle” line for the first level! But it is clear that this was just the developer’s way of paying tribute to the king of 2D platformers and not a direct rip-off. Soon the real charm and magic of Braid starts to emerge in the shape of the difficult and rewarding puzzles.

You see, Tim can control time. By holding down one button you can rewind or fast-forward through past events. You can’t die in the game, instead you just rewind yourself to correct the mistake, be it timing a jump right or avoiding the baddie that attacked you. But soon these mechanisms become Braid’s bread and butter. The puzzles range from easy to downright difficult, but they never feel cheap, although frustration creeps in every once in a while. Most of the puzzles involve rewinding or fast forwarding time to take advantage of a particular situation. Enemies can also be lured into tight spaces to retrieve keys for you and you can also jump on top of them to give yourself a boost to a higher area. To solve puzzles you will see yourself luring enemies into particular areas or using your time mechanics to try and guide an enemy through a particularly dangerous area so that he can survive it and serve as the proverbial “stepping stone” for you to reach a new area. As the game moves on, you will slow down time and even use your own (and your enemy’s) shadows! Frustration can be a factor since you are never told what to do on any area. You just have to try out the game’s mechanics and figure it out by yourself. However, solving the tricky puzzles provides a real sense of accomplishment. I felt really smart sometimes after solving a particularly difficult one. Trust me, no matter how hard they seem they are all fairly easy once you determine exactly what you need to do. Braid is one of the smartest games I have ever played.

The other aspects of the game are equally satisfying. The music and the sound effects evoke 16-bit charm, while retaining their own identity. The story is fairly mature, as told in the books preceding your entrance to the worlds, and deals with human emotions, feelings, mistakes and all that. It has a ton of depth and character when compared to the basic “rescue the princess from the big bad turtle” that platformers had in the past. Depending on your tastes you will see it as either, deep or corny, but one thing is for sure: It is different from anything else out there.

If there is one problem with the game is that it can be relatively short. As a matter of fact, the hardest trophy in the game challenges you to beat the game in 45 minutes. It is insanely hard to do so, but very possible. However, the length will vary greatly depending on how good you are at solving the puzzles. Suffice it to say it took me well over 7 hours on my first time through. That can mean one of two things: The game is really smart or I am really dumb, but whatever the case, I had fun all the way.

The 411:

At $14.99 Braid might seem a bit expensive when compared to the great majority of PSN games. However, those $15 are money well spent! Braid is clever, smart, charming and undeniably fun. The moments of frustration are outweigh by the feeling of accomplishment once you figure them out. Put down some cash and get Braid: they don’t make them like this anymore.

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Armando Rodriguez

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