Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Braid takes you back

Well gosh it's been a while, what a busy time, so much to do so little time. So many films, so many games it's hard to know where to put ones brain. But I also spent some serious downtime by a lake which prohibited any kind of media consumption. Well apart from the ipod and ds, but hey it's not frickin punishment. Oh and I saw the Dark Knight in Italian which will now be forever known as Il Cavaliere Uscomo. Cool. Anyway, more about that later, I'm easing myself back into the chilly blog waters with this little post about Braid, so lets go..!

So Braid is another of these whizzy Xbox live jobs, which I'm getting more and more enthusiastic for these days. Although it may sound like an 80's scrolling shooter, this one is in fact a platform based puzzle game - the platforming you'll quickly discover is purely incidental since you can rewind time a la Prince of Persia (new fangled ones oldies) to undo horrendously timed jumps. The puzzling is compelling and at times downright baffling. I'm not sure I could remember how I solved many of the puzzles if I went back to it now, but the speedrun is calling the achievement whore in me a pussy so I may have to go back soon. While you can rewind time as much as you like, the puzzles are based around your manipulation of it, and the fact that various objects and creatures are affected by time in different ways. In fact, it's more complex than that as each of the new levels brings with it a different temporal conundrum - the one where everything in the level moves forward in time as you move right, and backwards as you move left is a doozie. My brain fell out. So as you manipulate time, and work out how to open the door you opened earlier with the key you used on that other door but can still use again because if you play it back quick enough you still have the key, you collect pieces of jigsaw puzzles that build the pictures adorning the walls of your hub home. So it's Mario meets Portal meets Prince of Persia meets Banjo Kazooie. Kinda. It's closest to Portal in terms of the warm little glow you'll feel when you finally grab that piece of the puzzle that moments earlier you swore blind on your mother's grave god rest her it is absolutely impossible to reach my copy of this shitty game is broken.

The best thing about Braid though iiis the graphics? No. Sorry, they're pretty and all, a forever shifting impressionist landscape for a background upon which crudely drawn sprites gambol and play that works beautifully, but it's the soundtrack the really brings them all to life. Cheery folk music played backwards has a wonderfully melancholy edge to it, an emotion that permeates the world from the heroes glum expression to the appallingly written "plot", which is the only real downpoint to the game - it reads like a goth teenagers angsty diary and is supposed to give some kind of context to the proceedings, but it would have been best left abstract. Imagine the mystery that would have engulfed teh nets if none of that had been present? What does it mean? What do the pictures signify?? We would be hailing the first Lynchian masterpiece of videogaming, a truly artistic and meaningful experience. As it is, you're left thinking seriously dude, man up, no wonder you can't get laid. The (admittedly brilliant) ending makes a lot of sense, she had clearly read your whiny little blog.

The awful writing however cannot ruin what is fundamentally a classy little game. Kinda pricey at 800 points considering how short it ultimately is, but while it lasts it's a joy. The demo is fairly substantial and certainly enough to work out if this is your kind of thing. My guess is it will be.
Update - humm, apparently it turns out its all about nuclear bombs. Whodathunkit? Guess the writing is more abstract than I thought. It's still bad though.


The Logistician said...

Saw your invitation in the Coffee Shop feature of Google Groups Help Group, and decided to visit. Nice work; definitely unique. Long as it stimulates the thought process and entertains. Welcome.

Munial said...

Thanks for your visit and comments!