Kill Me Later

By A.A. BENJAMIN

 

Braid seems like it was made by some guy who was slighted by love and needed a place to vent.

BraidSpeechBubble

And…I like that. The idea of a forgiving game creates a zone of warmth and comfort that propels game exploration. Braid is an escape and an innovative game style that has the potential to inspire other games to step out of the stoic guns-bared emotionless realm and into the hearts and minds of our everyday life. After all, game making is art. Just as the writer can lament in her journal, and the painter can brood in an attic and let his heart bleed paint, so should a game maker be able to get his heart broken and then construct a platform game that makes him feel good.

Aside from my judgmental assumptions, there is more magic in this game than the narrative. The creators not only say, “to hell with un-forgiveness” but take it a step further to say “you must make mistakes to win this game.” The gamer must take the stick out of their butt and do it again, and again, and again until they figure it out, or until they so-called “cheat,” snatching that magic key and rewinding themselves to victory. This piece of fictional media opens up our minds to the different realities of life, just as every good piece of fiction should. I read an article once that challenged the idea of multiple lives and checkpoints in video games. The writer wanted to know what would happen if games became more realistic and eliminated the multiple lives syndrome that desensitized us to death.

 Well, Braid does that by going in the complete opposite direction (pun intended). Because like humans the main character continues to live only because he never died. He escapes death and failure only because, like humans, he is able to adapt and learn from mistakes.

My favorite part about this game is the integration of this method into actual gameplay, rather than just a cool “perk” of the game. I was delighted every time I faced a boss and found out that I could not manipulate him in my time-turning shenanigans. It forced me to dissect the pieces of my in-game reality and use what I could manipulate to win (maybe that sounds a little bit scarier than I intended, but, maybe I’m manipulative?) I did not, in fact, beat the game. However, challenges such as these make me feel that I can go back and play again at least a couple more times without the experience being one-noted. I can make different mistakes if I choose, I can accelerate the success of my strategies, and, I can make Tim dance back and forth and remix the music if I so well please.

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1 thought on “Kill Me Later”

  1. I also was struck by the compelling heartbreak element of the narrative but I was surprised to read in an interview with the creator Jonathan Blow that the breakup is merely a superficial metaphor for what he calls a pretty unambiguous reference to the atomic bomb creation in WWII. I don’t want to make any more specific references for fear of giving the ending away but I thought you’d be interested to see what Blow had to say on the subject:

    “In Braid, I was trying to do both things. I was trying to write about issues that are very meaningful to me, but at the same time – those aren’t the surface issues. People say, “Braid is about a break-up,” or whatever. I’ve had break-ups in my past, but I wouldn’t go so far as to spend three years making a game about a break-up and forcing everybody to play it. It means more to me than that. A lot more.”

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