Masters of Time and 2D Space

Braid start screenLike every other bugger who pays attention to what’s going on in indie gaming I recently tried out Braid, the time-fucking 2D platformer by independent developer Jonathan Blow. It’s currently only available on Xbox Live (at 1200 points, which in real money is about a tenner) but a Windows version is set to follow later this year, probably on Steam.

If you’ve already played the game then you’ll know what I’m about to say; the same applies if you’ve previously read a few other boring sods carping on about it. But if you’ve not played the game, and you’re not familiar with what it is, this post is for you.

The basic concept of Braid is genius in its simplicity: your character, Tim, can move, jump, interact with a few objects… and rewind time. At first this is useful primarily for recovering from an unfortunate death, or resetting the position of something you need to bypass. As the game goes on new ideas are added that increase both Tim’s range of abilities and the complexity of puzzles. These abilities include slowing time in a localised area, speeding up again as you move away from the centre; a ‘shadow world’ that follows the path Tim and other objects took prior to your previous rewind; “phase” objects that are unaffected by any time alteration; and so on. The puzzles are uniformly superb: challenging, clearly yet subtly signposted, and rarely frustrating once you understand what you need to do. The challenge primarily lies in figuring out how to approach problems, not in pixel-perfect jumps and impossibly precise timing – although some moves are tricky, being able to rewind time removes the frustration of failure. Although, of course, you might still face repeated failure…

Braid castle On top of that the visual style of the game is captivating – unique and lovingly crafted, it also recalls platforming classics like Super Mario Brothers and Donkey Kong. The music is also subtly enchanting, and the central conceit of the game’s ambiguous narrative – the desire to undo mistakes to maintain trust in love, and to perpetuate a perfect relationship – is interestingly wedded to the staple plot of searching for a princess. I’ve yet to finish the game, so I don’t yet know where the narrative goes, but already it’s got most other platforms shamefully staring at their feet.

You can read a bit more here and here, and download a trial version from Xbox Live (if you have a Gold account).

Comments
2 Responses to “Masters of Time and 2D Space”
  1. Kerry says:

    You can download the trial if you have a silver account, too. I got it a couple of days ago, and am looking forward to having a go this weekend.

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Oh, cool – I’m glad they changed that! Unless I’m getting confused, and silvers have always been able to download trials.

    Enjoy, anyway – the trial is quite generous, as you get one entire world and can explore others, although no progress will be recorded.