I found the Braid game very interesting in terms of the story. Usually, when I’m playing a game or watching someone play a game, I skip over the storyline to try and quickly progress through the game. But with Braid, the story or titles of the levels often gave hints and tied in with the game in innovative ways. For example, the level “irreversible” is solved by refraining from reversing at the start of the level. I couldn’t help peeking ahead on Wikipedia to read the ending of the game, because I was very curious. Everything from the music, to the odd puzzle pictures, to the characters’ melancholy expression evoked a very different feeling than I’m used to with platform games. Mario is peppy, happy, and upbeat. In Braid, the music seemed darker. Even the weather responded with a pathetic fallacy, as it rained often in the levels. The ending didn’t disappoint me. I won’t spoil it here, but the twist was fascinating from a story standpoint. It certainly made me consider perspective in games. Everyone thinks they are a hero, and everyone is a protagonist in their own story, but Braid challenges players to consider how this can change with time.
This is a particularly interesting point in gaming, since users can often choose their avatars and design characters. How do these characters reflect or misconstrue our own identities? On a fun level, I think of the song in the web series “The Guild,” “Do you wanna date my avatar,” because it can be entertaining to play or design characters that look awesome. In LOTRO I liked designing my own character, because I could choose good qualities and make a super version of a hunter. It can be interesting to play characters that represent ourselves (for example, characters that dress like we do like Tim in Braid with a suite and tie), but there are more facets to this idea. Most stories have protagonists and antagonists, and things change with perspective.
Some of my favorite stories are escapist, because I love fantasy and stories set in other worlds. In a way, Braid lent itself to that idea, because of the quest-like tone and beautiful artwork. But ultimately, the theme seems to reflect on the inescapable quality of time. I enjoyed the game as a cool, but challenging, platform game before I read the ending. When I read the ending, I had a completely different perspective. Each level seemed sinister, and I had a bad feeling throughout. Maybe this is also indicative of perspective and time—hindsight is 20/20, but we can’t actually go back in time. When I knew what was going to happen, I wanted to make different choices, but time ultimately only moves forward.