Braid is one of my favorite gaming experiences that I’ve ever had. This was a bit of a surprise for me, as it doesn’t fit any of the typical gaming constructs that I find usually appeal to my digital self. It’s a relatively short, independently developed puzzle game. It’s difficult to put the experience I had playing this game into words. It was a total immersion for me.
I felt, on some level, like I was Tim (the main character). The wold of Braid provides creative time manipulation techniques, including slowing time and rewinding time, to help you push Tim on his quest to reunite with his lost princess. Jonathan Blow, the creator of this masterpiece, tells a compelling story that really I think any human being can painfully relate to. Who hasn’t made a mistake and wished they could rewind time and do things differently? The game gives you a chance to experience this. With a storyline that is intentionally vague, your own psyche somehow fills in the gaps of Tim’s past with your own life experiences. You share his quest with him. I somehow shared a part in whatever mistakes he made to lose his princess.
The premise of a lost love and the chance to create a perfect future is something I think the human condition would strive for at any chance. I certainly consider myself a lucky man, and there isn’t alot I would change about my life. But I have experienced darker times, and I think Tim represented that to me. Myself, rewinding through a dark and lonely portion of life, trying to recreate an ideal.
The puzzle portion of the game cannot be commended enough. I found myself wondering how a human mind could create some of these puzzles. And, on top of conceptualizing them; how they could possibly posses the skills required to turn them into a virtual reality using software development and writing code. I’m typically a very impatient person. I rarely have the time or calmness to take on a puzzle game. With Braid, I found myself in a paradox. I certainly wanted desperately to solve each puzzle and continue, yet I dreaded the end of the experience. I refused to look up any walkthoughs or online guides and made sure to solve everything on my own. It was somehow a calming and zen-like state of mind trying to move forward through this game.
The game doesn’t have groundbreaking graphics. But the soundtrack and art, the overall style of the game, are all fantastic. Beautifully painted backdrops combined with an audio composition that embodies a strong medley of longing, hope and optimism – It’s profound.
I really can’t believe that an indie game was capable of having this effect on me, and really all I can do is to say “Thank you” to Jonathan Blow for providing the world the chance to experience this. If you ever read this, I hope you feel a sense of pride in what you do and how you have managed to truly create a world class gaming experience.
If you like video games, and you have not played Braid – You should do so immediately.