A Braided Reflection

Personally, I have never played Braid until now, but being a prolific gamer and having seen my roommate play the game before, I have had some preparations and planning going into this assignment. On the other hand, my partner, Logan, is very new to video games, as far as I know.

Once the game started, I noticed the “artsy” undertone of the game, well before I reached the end: the first world is “World 2,” there is no “life” system, no resources for using a powerful mechanic (the time reversal), etc. These are general “conventions” often found in video game, and Braid is outright turning them on their faces.

But Braid is doing that so well. The entire game’s puzzles mesh well together with the mechanic I learned as the games progress, and the audio experience,  influenced by the control of time, is very unique and interesting. This game can serve as a great example of merging narrative with mechanics, a sign of any great game on the market. Some examples are the little comments in the books such as “going back to fix his mistakes…” to signal Tim’s ability for reversing time, or mentioning and explaining  “the ring” in World 6 for the appearance of a new mechanic (intentionally vague to avoid spoilers).

However, the artsy undertone did go a bit too far for me, as the game begins to appear pretentious with “the Princess is in another castle,” the deadly plants that are straight from Mario games, etc. It is as if Braid is saying, “I am a hipster, and Mario is the lesser for being so mainstream.” That is my opinion and perhaps it is born out of my experience with other games.

Nonetheless, Braid is a beautifully crafted game even for a veteran gamer, with well-designed puzzles and immersive soundtracks. If I were an obsessive completionist of video games, I would not mind going back to Braid over and over to enjoy the game multiple times.

-SyC

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Braid: A New Take on a Familiar Design

First of all, you must be aware that I would not consider myself a ‘gamer’ by any means; however, I did spend a considerable amount of time in my childhood playing around on various flash video game websites. Most of these games were simple and easy to get the hang of, requiring minimal commitment on the player’s side. In opening the game Braid for the first time, I was immediately reminded of those ephemeral and ultimately forgettable games from my middle school years. But Braid stood out significantly from any of these other simple platform games in that it took this familiar concept of moving through a two-dimensional world with relatively few controls or abilities to maybe like four or five new levels. It both poked fun at this game genre while simultaneously achieving within the genre new feats that I myself had never seen before.

Braid’s most obvious spin on this old genre is the loosening of the representation of time within the game. The player has the ability to manipulate time itself and uses this to help the protagonist progress. While this player ability might seem rather trite, Braid incorporates it very elegantly in a way that kept me constantly intrigued with the advancement of each level. It reminded me a lot of the game Portal in that a ton of challenging puzzles come out of a rather limited set of rules and game mechanics.

Additionally, Braid’s use of narrative to enhance and complement the gameplay itself further indicated a mastery of the genre. While I do think that the narrative was a bit cheesy, I think we have to give the writers a bit of a break considering how small of a scale with which they were working. Braid put forward quite blatantly the themes of passage of time, forgiveness, ‘magic’ in a relationship, and wanting to undo past mistakes. However hackneyed or possibly even vapid these themes can be, I was still astounded by how the narrative and gameplay complemented each other so well, as I had never really seen that done in a game before. These themes are evident in the game from the very beginning when you first realize you are able to undo mistakes with the simple press of a key.

With its countless nods to the game’s ancestor Super Mario, Braid seems to be incredibly aware of its place within the narrative of video game history while at the same time pushing its genre to the next level in very interesting and intriguing ways. While acknowledging how little I know about the whole of video game history, I still was pretty blown away by what Braid accomplishes when compared to other games of its type.

– Logan W (logangaming)

Reflections on Braid

When I first heard that we would be playing a game called Braid, the first thing that popped into my head was an image of a Celtic knot, something in the style of Disney’s Brave. Of course, the actual game was very different from my conceptualization of it, but it was interesting nonetheless. I met up with two of my classmates to work together in order to learn the game. One of my teammates had played Braid before, so he was able to offer helpful hints to the other girl in the group and me. Neither she nor I had experience with the game, so we struggled with the rules and the physics of the game for a while. I was not very good at timing jumps or creating bridges so that the protagonist could reach platforms that were higher up or farther away. Once I realized that I would have to jump on top of the lions in order to reach certain platforms, I made a connection between the game and Angry Birds. Both games involve working with the laws of physics in order to complete levels. One of the big surprises of the game, the “time” element, did not totally shock me, since I had seen a promotional video on Steam that described it. One major change was figuring out that some objects were, as my classmate put it, “outside of time.” Sometimes, this was a positive thing, since it allowed me to use a key multiple times in a level. However, occasionally, it was frustrating to not be able to move an item when one was going back in time. I was a little thrown off by some of the characters. The bunny rabbits seemed to come straight from Monty Python, and the plants seemed to evoke “Little Shop of Horrors.” The dinosaur coming out of the castle appeared to be a reference to the Mario games. During an in-class discussion, my classmates had brought up the possibilities of these references as critiques of or nods to popular culture.

Overall, I enjoyed the game and liked having a sort of “mystery” to solve. I probably do not have the time or skills to complete the game any time soon, but the narrative is intriguing enough that I wouldn’t mind going back later to try to finish it.

EMG

Braid

Braid was a very interesting game. At first it is reminiscent of the old Super Mario games. Like Mario Braid is a 2-dimensional platform game. The first noticeable difference between the two games is the artistry within braid. It is a much more vivid world than Super Mario. Other than the visuals the game plays almost identically to Super Mario; that is, until the first time you die. At this point the game informs you that pressing the shift button rewinds time. When I first died and came across this information, I thought it was great and allowed the user to simply continue from any point in the game. It was unclear that I would need to use this rewind feature in order to pass certain levels of the game and reach puzzle pieces which is part of completing the game. Braid stresses strategy in order to complete the game. Each world had its own physics with regard to the rewind feature. Certain levels as you moved to the right the creatures/enemies would rewind and as you move left the creatures/enemies move forward in time. At this point I nearly through my computer out the window. Unless you were able to figure out the one way to reach a certain platform or key, there would be no way to continue. Braid is not for gamers who are easily frustrated. For these people, like myself, I say, Stay Away From Braid. However, if you love strategy/puzzle infused games then I would highly recommend giving Braid a try.

 

MCB

 

 

Braid (the game, not the hair)

First off, you should know I am only kind of a gamer. “Kind of” meaning playing Lego LOTR with one of my little brothers and CoD with the other one. Zero experience with computer games.
So playing Braid was . . . different (and difficult).
I found the music and the artistic look of the entire game to be the biggest attraction, especially looking at the backgrounds of the different areas. And the music, well, I have a weakness for any decent soundtrack, so I really really enjoyed the music.
The game in itself was frustrating. While the format was similar to Mario Bros (the only game I’ve played that’s close), using the keyboard arrows and space bar to maneuver had me dying over and over and . . .
You get the picture.
The whole time-managing, time-bending, time-reversing thing was fascinating. Definitely made Braid unique and a lot more intriguing. I had difficulty on the first few puzzles using it though, so I can’t imagine how much more difficult they became further along in the game.
The storyline itself was a bit of a turn-off. I didn’t get that far, therefore I can’t really judge, but I found the writing itself to be cumbersome and overly dramatic. Not to mention the “life lessons” that the writer tried to push forward. Like a really long fortune cookie. Apparently there’s a crazy twist at the end, but for me, that’s no excuse for a heavy, uninteresting storyline.
End judgement: I personally may never play the game again, but for the avid computer gamer, it could be very enjoyable.

-JKH

Battling Braid

Starting off playing Braid, it was fairly reminiscent of the original Super Mario Bros games. Sure, it’s a more animated, up to date version, but the basic concept appeared the same. You maneuver through this alternate 2D world by walking left and right, jumping on little enemies and collecting pieces on your way to saving a princess. Soon enough though came the twist: the rewind button. Initially it appeared that the ability to rewind was simply an advantageous addition; a way to revive yourself with no consequences or to bring yourself right back up to that platform you didn’t mean to fall from. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Rather than just being a beneficial tool, the rewind seems to give Braid an entirely new gaming element that separated it from Super Mario Bros and similar games: strategy.

As you work your way through a Super Mario Bros game, it isn’t terribly complex. You proceed through the various levels with the intention of reaching the ultimate goal of rescuing the princess and beating the game. Yet after a few minutes of playing Braid, you discover that the game requires a lot more thought than just reaching the door at the end of each level. Rather, you must consider how to use the rewind button to reach the next platform over a line of moving clouds, how to open multiple doors using only one key, or to kill your little foes in a particular order to reach that hidden puzzle piece. Each world presented a new challenge involving the ability to rewind and how it affects the environment around you.

The game continuously found ways to challenge you to obtain the various puzzle pieces, and some of the pieces seemed downright impossible to reach. While the game was certainly frustrating, the strategic component allowed the game to be more engaging and more rewarding than a game such as Super Mario Bros.

 

Matt R