PS3 Attitude’s 20 Days of PSN: #7 – Braid
Braid was finally released on the PlayStation Network nearly two years ago, and it remains one of the most unique and best games on the service, due to its ingenious gameplay, beautiful presentation, and ambiguous multi-layered story.
Read on to find out why Braid is #7 in our Top 20 PSN titles…
Braid is arguably the first downloadable game that proved the medium can be used for much deeper experiences than standard puzzle titles and top-down shooters. Indeed, the game has developed a huge cult following, and everyone has a different opinion on what Braid is actually about.
The achievement of Braid is made all the more impressive by the fact that it was created by one man, videogame designer Jonathan Blow. The title was originally released in August 2008, and was eventually ported to the PlayStation Network by Hothead Games in November 2009.
But what exactly is Braid?
At its simplest level, Braid is a 2D platformer, in the same vein as Super Mario Bros. The playable character, Tim, must search everywhere looking for the princess, but she is forever in another castle. Along the way, Tim finds jigsaw pieces, which he needs to collect and assemble in order to progress with the game.
However, when you add in the title’s various time-turning aspects, things get very complicated, very quickly. It starts easily enough, with Tim able to rewind time when he dies or makes a mistake, but each of the game’s six worlds features a unique game-changing mechanic.
For example, arguably the cleverest world in the game requires Tim to walk right to make time go forwards, and walk left to make time go backwards. This presents the player with a number of ingenious puzzles, which take some serious logical (and illogical) thinking to solve.
As you can probably tell, Braid’s gameplay can be somewhat complex, but at least the story is easy to understand, right? Wrong. For a start, the game isn’t even played in the correct order, with the first level in the game actually being World 2.
It is not until everything else is completed that Tim can finally enter World 1, and discover how the game ends (or should that be begins?). We won’t spoil the ending here, but just know it comes as a complete surprise, and makes the player question exactly what they’ve been doing during the game.
Whilst it is possible to take the story for what it is, and believe that Tim is simply searching for his lost princess, the ambiguity of the game allows for several other, more interesting theories to exist, some of which are slightly crazy, but also quite convincing.
One conspiracy argues that Braid is actually about the Manhattan Project, with the princess being a metaphor for an atomic bomb, which Tim has become obsessed by. Not everyone is happy with this explanation, but it’s arguments like this that make Braid truly special.
Braid’s presentation is equally exceptional. The beautiful watercolour visuals make it feel like you are walking through a painting, and the music is among the best you will hear in a game. There is also no main menu (unless you manually press Start), so you are never taken out of the experience.
If you haven’t already surmised as much, games like Braid do not come along very often. This is a game that is so deeply layered and been so lovingly crafted that it rises above other normal titles, and feels like a piece of gaming history.
Its ambiguous story and incredibly intelligent design may not be for everyone, but for any gamer who likes to think about games rather than simply play them, Braid is a truly unforgettable experience.
#7 in our 20 Days of PSN goes to Braid.