Braid Review for Xbox 360

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Even the title screen for Braid looks great
Even the title screen for Braid looks great

Even the title screen for Braid looks great

We've never played a game like this before. Braid looks like just another platformer, albeit an extremely well presented one that could well make "games are art" lovers fall to their knees and cry tears of joy, but it's nothing like you expect. Although a platformer in the most traditional sense, jumping plays second fiddle to the power of time. 1200 MS Points might seem high for an XBLA release but it's a small price to pay for one of the most original games released in years.

Initially it's easy to be impressed by the watercolour backgrounds and the relaxing music. We often long for 2D platformers to make a comeback and Braid is a shining example of taking the classic genre into the modern era from a graphical standpoint. It's so simple yet so beautiful, and that's something I just don't say about games. The last game I played that had a similar effect on me was Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus, putting Braid in very good company indeed. And this is all from the game's title screen.

Once you start on your adventure to find a princess (could there be a bigger nod to the most famous platforming series ever created?) the game rarely skips a beat. There's no need for a tutorial because instructions are built into the opening few stages of the first world. Even your first encounter with time manipulation won't leave you too confused. For such a complex idea to get your head around the game should be applauded for managing to make it seem like just another gameplay mechanic.

Of course, this is just the opening level. Things soon become a lot more advanced and will leave even the most intelligent thinkers scratching their heads for long periods. Holding down X rewinds time and from here you can accelerate in stages by tapping LB or fast forward in stages by tapping RB - a single tap on RB while in the standard rewind speed will cause time to pause.

'A key lies in a pit of spikes. Fall to your death onto the key, rewind back and you're sorted. Clever, yes, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.'

These kind of controls have been seen in other games, but never before will you have seen such wickedly created levels as those in Braid. Each world is split into stages, with each stage effectively being a puzzle. The primary goal in each stage is to make it to the exit, which often requires you to grab a key and unlock a door - something that's never as simple as it looks. To begin with you'll think you're smart after working out what appear to be devilishly hard puzzles. A key lies in a pit of spikes. Fall to your death onto the key, rewind back and you're sorted. Clever, yes, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Before too long you'll encounter items that aren't affected by your time powers. These glowing objects or enemies don't react at all as time is warped around them. This is how Braid takes puzzles to another level and is able to use brain cells you thought had packed up and cleared out long ago. Whether it's a moving platform that clearly holds the solution to a level or an enemy that is struggling to survive, you'd be wise to stock up on fish for some much needed extra brain power.

If all this sounds brilliant, we haven't even mentioned another major element to the game: collecting jigsaw pieces. Scattered about each level are jigsaw pieces, used to make a picture in the level and back in your house-like hub. Collecting every puzzle piece in a level often seems impossible, but it's not. You might well spend days trying to get a single piece only to leave it for a while and realise you missed something completely obvious. The lure of collecting them all has always been strong in video games, but here doing so makes you feel good about yourself. When you finally figure out how to reach that elusive jigsaw piece you'll want to tell everyone about it, even if they likely won't care or have a clue about what you're talking about.

This section caused us quite a few problems

This section caused us quite a few problems

In truth the game extends far beyond what you've read so far in this review, but talking about exactly what happens and how the time control changes would spoil what is without doubt the finest, most original Xbox LIVE Arcade game to date. It has looks to die for, character bursting out of every animated seam, a charming storyline and a near perfect difficulty curve.

People may well argue that the game is over too soon. It's a valid complaint in a sense, but your time through to completion will vary wildly from someone else's. You could easily get stuck on a certain jigsaw piece for days, replaying the same section over and over again. Speed runners (there is an option to speed run the game once you've completed it) will no doubt be able to rush through in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea, but that's not the point. You'll savour every moment of Braid.

It's also a game that you can stick on in front of a room full of people, and everyone will take part, shouting out their own misguided solutions while lambasting your idiocy. The game itself doesn't even have a whiff of multiplayer shenanigans, but it can be one of the best group experiences on the Xbox 360.

When Xbox LIVE Arcade was announced there was this hope that it would be a platform for original, quirky games that would otherwise struggle to find a publisher. The service has certainly seen some incredibly high quality games (Geometry Wars 2 just last week is amazingly polished), but Braid finally fulfils that promise. It's a game like nothing you've ever played before and something we can't recommend highly enough.

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User Comments

chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

As Limbo is being released tomorrow I decided to play the demo today. I thought it was amazing. The game looks beautiful and the puzzles are great. Collecting all the puzzle pieces was mind boggling and brilliantly satisfying, I can imagine myself spending hours trying to collect these and at 800MS points I'm inclined to purchase it.
Posted 22:09 on 20 July 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ FantasyMeister

So, the solution to the problem of the pieces you couldn't reach at first didn't strike you as ingenious? That really is a shame, as if you didn't enjoy that, then the later puzzles will not provide you with any joy either. Suffice it to say that world 5 and 6 can stretch your mind in ways you didn't think possible. Braid is essentially a puzzle game that uses a platform mechanic to interact, being much more about clever usage of the X button than dextrous usage of the A button.
Posted 15:14 on 19 June 2009
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I'm still lost on what the point of Braid is, thinking man's platformer or something? Finished the jigsaw in the demo (boy catching falling bottle of wine off a platform which is used to first jump to the penultimate piece and then guide the hedgehog down to the ground to grab that last piece).

I still don't like platformers, same as others don't like RPGs, RTS, FPS, Arcade/Sim racers etc. At its core the gameplay still consists of 'Press A to jump, bounce on something to jump higher, time it right or suffer', wrap that up with a nice environment and taxing puzzles (that's another bugbear with me, I don't play games to think, I play them to get away from thinking) and the gameplay is still 'Press A to jump, bounce on something to jump higher, time it right or suffer' and that's something that will never appeal to me.
Posted 14:59 on 19 June 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

Quote:
Originally Posted by FantasyMeister
I downloaded the demo, tried it out, wondered what made it different from the millions of free 2D platformers that anyone can access if they have a flash player installed in their browser, couldn't think of anything, deleted it from hard drive. 1/10.

It may be the greatest 2D platformer ever devised, but it's still a 2D platformer

...

I don't find them fun to play when there are games out there which allow me to get equally cerebral and digitally dextrous, but in 3D.

You surprise me. You have missed the point of Braid more completely than even Souljah Boy did. Do yourself a huge favour, and try the demo again. Without consulting any guides or asking for any help, just solve the world 1 jigsaw. That's all. Afterwards, if you still don't see WHY you are wrong, then there is absolutely no hope for you.

In later levels, your brain will be taxed to a degree you didn't think possible. By the end of the game, you will wish more games had TRIED to do what this one accomplishes. It is to platformers what Portal was to FPS.
Posted 10:00 on 19 June 2009
GtM's Avatar

GtM

Aha, this is great. I love all the little in-jokes on Mario and stuff. Yeah, the gameplay's pretty awesome for a platformer, but it /was/ a little too short imo. It only took me about 2 hours to get every puzzle piece the first time, and then another 3 for the stars. But yeah, definitely up for the sequel. :)
Posted 19:52 on 18 June 2009
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MegaThumbs

This game really cant be judged on the trial download alone because that doesnt do it justice, I have downloaded the full version and I think its very good and I wouldnt say 2D platformers are my cup of tea (my thing) either but I do like games that make you think and that are well presented and this delivers on both those fronts. Try and see through the "mario" style apperance and I think you will enjoy this game for a long time and pull most of your hair out in the process.
Posted 15:58 on 26 August 2008
NinetiesKid's Avatar

NinetiesKid

Well I finished the game today and what can I say? It's soo good, way out of the league of most other Arcade games and really deserves a 10.

This is like the BioShock of the arcade, it must be played by everybody!
Posted 18:37 on 15 August 2008
Rogue_Soul's Avatar

Rogue_Soul

Although, is it really a 2D game? As you have the ability to control/manipulate time (4th Dimension) and dabble with a 'shadow universe' version of yourself to complete some of the puzzles. ;)
Posted 09:46 on 15 August 2008
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ KVFitz

Quote:
Originally Posted by KVFitz
All these yahoos calling it "just another 2D platformer" are Entirely Missing The Point.

Didja even bother to press the 'x' button, geniuses?

I can't speak for the other yahoos, but yes I did. It's still a 2D platformer. Please note that I'm not saying it's 'just another' 2D platformer, I'm pointing out that 2D platformers aren't my genre, I don't find them fun to play when there are games out there which allow me to get equally cerebral and digitally dextrous, but in 3D.
Posted 08:58 on 15 August 2008
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KVFitz

All these yahoos calling it "just another 2D platformer" are Entirely Missing The Point.

Didja even bother to press the 'x' button, geniuses?
Posted 07:42 on 15 August 2008
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I downloaded the demo, tried it out, wondered what made it different from the millions of free 2D platformers that anyone can access if they have a flash player installed in their browser, couldn't think of anything, deleted it from hard drive. 1/10.

I think the only thing in Braid's favour is that we're in the quiet part of the year. It may be the greatest 2D platformer ever devised, but it's still a 2D platformer and I stopped playing those about 20 years back.

What's next. Matchstick men beat' em ups with unlockable perks and psychic powers? Go for it, 1/10 in advance.
Posted 06:13 on 13 August 2008
pblive's Avatar

pblive

I found it a nice update on Jet Set Willy. Yes, really.

The storyline is something that sounds as if it was dreamt up by an English Lit student with an over-active imagination while smoking something strange, the gameplay harks back to 8-bit gaming and the graphics are nice enough, but it's really nothing fantastic.
Posted 08:52 on 11 August 2008
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Cardo

Great game for those who appreciate art, classical music, and intelligent, simple design. The puzzles are ones you need to think about quite a bit.

9.5/10
Posted 13:19 on 10 August 2008
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Hopefully I'll get to play this tonight.
Posted 11:59 on 08 August 2008
Rogue_Soul's Avatar

Rogue_Soul

I'm a little disappointed you marked the game down for being short - yes, you can run through all the levels, skipping the puzzles, but you'll be missing out on an awful lot.

It's a superb and very well crafted game. I can't get some of the puzzles out of my mind at the moment!

Compared to other titles available on the XBLA it's worthy of its price... and worthy of a better score than 9/10. ;)
Posted 11:52 on 08 August 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
9
Out of 10
Braid
  • Gets people playing together
  • Superb 2D visuals
  • Amazingly creative puzzles
  • Can be finished quite quickly
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 06/08/2008
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Number None, Inc.
Genre: Puzzle
No. Players: One
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 835 33
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