Braid

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JaySevenZero
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Braid

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 4:15 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Braid for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Joshihatsumitsu
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Re: 328: Braid

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 28th, 2018, 10:35 am

To distill (maybe unfairly) Braid down to one defining moment, it would be World 1.1, i.e. the level simply named “Braid”. The assumption of your goal in this level is to “save the princess”. And this assumption is based on context: the princess is perceived to be threatened by a very burly, dangerous-looking man who’s looking to whisk her away against her will. As you heroically make your way from left to right, you will have to rely on the princess to hit certain switches that will assist you, and make it possible to progress. After overcoming all the obstacles, rising to meet the challenge as the hero you think you are, you get to what is essentially a dead end. There’s no way to “save the princess”, and the only option that remains to it simply hit reverse. And that’s where the narrative of the level flips.

The true context of this level is not that you are the hero, but a dangerous person that this princess fears. And as you watch the level brilliantly work it’s way backwards, the switches that she hit initially were never meant to assist you, but slow you down, and to hopefully stop you from getting to her. And by the time we get back to the beginning, that very burly, dangerous man that was initially though of as a threat, is actually the real saviour, a hero that helps the princess escape from the real villain: you. And you can do is sadly make your way back through the door you first came through, now with a little more clarity about your role in the overall narrative.

It is such a well-designed and elegant level. Even before replaying it recently it was the first level I though of, years after my first play-through. It just left such a strong, unique impression, and I cannot help but marvel at how incredibly clever and subversive that level is.

What I appreciate most about Braid is that it doesn’t resent being a video game. On the subject of “video games as art”, there seems to be a conscious effort to move away from “being a video game” and more towards tradition narrative-type media, usually embracing cinema and film (*cough* David “I’ve worked with Ellen Page” Cage *cough*) :roll:

And the problem is: no matter how well produced a cinematic sequence in a game is, it ultimately will be going up against well over a century of film, and it’s going to come up short every time. And the reverse is true too: film cannot possibly compete with the interactive strengths the only gaming provides.

There is a saying: art without craftsmanship is just pretension (famously quoted by no idea who). And regardless of how people few about Jonathan Blow as a person (I get the feeling he isn’t loved by everyone), he is a very talented craftsman. It is entirely possible to tune out the subtext of Braid and enjoy it purely as a puzzle platformer. The mechanics are so polished and so tight, and I would easily recommend this game just on that fact alone. Clearly, a lot of hard work and care went into every part of this game.

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Re: 328: Braid

Post by duskvstweak » April 3rd, 2018, 6:57 pm

I don't have too much to say about Braid, as I was less affected by the game as other players were. Maybe I came to it a bit late, maybe I shouldn't have played Limbo first. The big element that kept me from getting on with Braid was the puzzles. Maybe this is an admission of my own mental shortcomings, but I just couldn't get through the second half of the game without constant walkthroughs. I remember thinking, "Limbo's puzzles made me feel smart, Braid's puzzles make me feel dumb."
So, with a story I couldn't quite understand and puzzles I couldn't seem to figure out, Braid was a frustrating game for me until the very end.

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Re: 328: Braid

Post by Simonsloth » May 16th, 2018, 8:42 am

I’m sure others will articulate their thoughts on this game much better than I but I do think how you view braid depends on when you played it.

Games like braid and fez rode the crest of the indie wave to the console market and at the time of their release felt revolutionary to me. I loved the interwoven narrative and puzzle elements with new mechanics introduced gradually as the challenge ramped up. I genuinely felt the game’s twist was quite shocking and was the perfect denouement to what ordinarily would have been just another time bending puzzle game.

However playing it more recently I couldn’t bring myself to play beyond halfway. All of my positive feelings towards the game had gone and unfortunately now I’ve played limbo, inside and the witness I couldn’t help but make unfair comparisons.

In terms of impact and being an important part of gaming history there is no doubt in my mind. Whether it’s a good game or not is a more interesting question because right now I don’t think that it is.

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Re: 328: Braid

Post by joyjoymoto » July 4th, 2018, 10:09 pm

In Braid, not only is the narrative out of order, a familiar storytelling technique present in numerous movies, TV shows and books, but the interactive component of the player manipulating time means the player is directly manipulating the narrative, the context of which is directly tied to the order of events. This is a prime example of gameplay and concept intertwined. The player reverses time and directly changes the end (beginning?) of the game. Without this gameplay mechanic, we would have a fairly generic “damsel in distress” tale. It makes one feel as though they, themselves, are in a sense crafting and/or changing the game. Not only did I feel this way in terms of the greater story arch, but also in the individual puzzles. I constantly felt like I was somehow “hacking” the world and manipulating the level design from its original form.

.media narrative of forms other to same the translate quite doesn’t and art interactive to applied uniquely is concept This

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Re: 328: Braid

Post by Alex79uk » July 5th, 2018, 10:08 pm

I won't beat around the Bush. Braid is amazing. Jonathan Blow is an absolute genius, and has produced probably my two favorite puzzle games of all time. I first played Braid pretty much day one on Xbox 360. I downloaded the trial, played one stage and upgraded to the full game almost immediately. It is so smart, such a clever platformer that just left me feeling blown away upon completion. Every world iterating on the last, you never become complacent, but the solution to every stage is so simple in hindsight, which I always think it the mark of a brilliant puzzler. I really liked the atmosphere of the game, the vague, cryptic texts on the level select screen, the music, the story, it all came together as one glorious piece of art. I loved the way it kind of broke the fourth wall with the rearranging puzzle pieces to create a platform, with the collecting of the stars, I just can't gush enough about Braid. It's one of a very small group of games I've paid for more than once, on 360 and PS3, and I would happily throw money at it again if it saw a current gen re-release. Braid, you beautiful masterpiece. I love you.

THREE WORD REVIEW: Puzzling Platforming Perfection.

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Re: 328: Braid

Post by Alex79uk » July 5th, 2018, 10:11 pm

This is going to be a great episode, I've never heard anyone be negative about the game until this thread! I didn't realise it was so divisive.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (14.7.18) - 328: Braid

Post by The_reviewist » July 9th, 2018, 1:01 pm

Braid is an essential distillation of the medium of video games. Which probably sounds like ridiculous high praise, but there it is. I bought Braid within a week of release, having had it recommended to me by a games journalist friend who reviewed it, and loved it. They were right. I was blown away.

The opening of Braid, with that rumbling but stark music, and Tim standing on the bridge over the eerie yet beautiful watercolour sunset, set the mood for me immediately, I was entranced. Then as the game unfolded to me in snippets of text, and the paintings that the puzzle pieces revealed, I thought I understood it. A story of a failed romance, musing on people's inner natures and unwillingness to change and grow, told through a clever series of time altering game mechanics. Each world expanding on the last in both scope and complexity. Not to mention the wonderfully curated musical choices, beautiful artwork, and "middle-class office worker-Mario" aesthetic.
"What a great wee game!" I thought.

Then... I reached the attic and found World 1 (It's omission being something I had noticed with curiousity at the start of the game, and had frankly forgotten in all the time it took me to get through the other 5 worlds) That final world turned everything on its head, and then obviously came the amazing 11th hour reversal which left my jaw hanging open. Then onwards through the final snippets of text, and invisible secret texts adding layers of meaning and interpretation.
I was astounded. "Games don't do this!"

Even to this day, a decade on, I struggle to think of a game with as many interpretations and intricacies of story. the variant versions of the romance, the hints at who or what the princess may be, and my personal favourite being the hidden motifs of mushroom clouds, blinding flashes when a star is collected, the references to Bainbridge and Oppenheimer, and the almost burning cityscapes which hint at it all being an allegory for the Manhattan Project.

Is it a perfect game though? Nothing ever is. A couple of the puzzles are infuriatingly finicky, although arguably never unfair, and the subtext derived through multi-layered narrative may come across to some as a deliberately attempt to enact some serious arty-wank and hide it in a video game. For some, it will simply always be too obscure.

But I think it's important to remember that when Braid was released, the world of "artsy" indie games, particularly those released digitally on console was still somewhat in it's infancy. While at that time Dear Esther was already doing the rounds of the mod community, Braid appeared on the scene several months before the equally innovative, Flower, and heralded a small renaissance in the industry, one latched onto by not only the games press, but some parts of video gaming community who longed for something with depth as well as mechanics. In fact, it could be argued that the popularity of Braid paved the way for games like Limbo. Fez, and Journey. For that alone, even if it wasn't a brilliantly constructed puzzle game, as well as a fascinatingly mutable set of narratives, I will always argue that it deserves a place in the annals of gaming history, and is a definite must-play for anyone interested in any aspect video game development, history or culture.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (14.7.18) - 328: Braid

Post by Donk » July 9th, 2018, 4:31 pm

I got Braid when it originally came out on XBox Live Arcade and played 2-3 hours before rage quitting it. I'd occasionally give it a go but never made any real progress.

Fast forward several years and I'm looking through my Steam library to find a game for my 4 year old to play. He was still learning to use a controller and would lose his mind at the slightest challenge in games. I remembered Braid had a time rewind mechanic I thought might be useful while learning the basics of a controller and it was. He loved it.

Eventually we came to more difficult puzzles and I was telling my son we couldn't go any further but then he asked me why I didn't just jump over there (I think it was the platform within the puzzle image) and then to the door and of course it worked. My brain, conditioned by decades of video games, was unable to see it but the 4 year old brain saw it immediately.

Finally, progress and we marched on together. He'd start sessions playing himself but soon hand me the controller for the difficult jumps and 2 or 3 more times during our playthrough he'd have a solution before I could figure it out. I'm amazed Jonathan Blow could come up with these puzzles because they were truly mind breaking.

Amazing game and design.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (14.7.18) - 328: Braid

Post by Scrustle » July 10th, 2018, 6:45 pm

I first played Braid way back when it was first released on the Xbox 360, and it was a revelation for me at the time. I was immediately captivated by its aesthetic stylings, with its dreamy, lush visuals and enchanting soundtrack. It created a mood that I had never got from a game before, that sucked me in and immersed me in this strange painted world which really captured that feeling of the flow of time being not quite what it seemed, which mirrored the gameplay so well.

The actual mechanics of the time manipulation blew me away too. They were pure genius. Simple to understand in theory, but were used in such creative and imaginative ways that got me thinking about how to solve problems in ways that I never thought about before. The game explores these possibilities so well, coming up with so many different ways to apply whatever twist it’s currently putting on the time control mechanics. Even when it repeats puzzles it always feels fresh by making you approach it in a drastically different way each time.

It opened by eyes to the possibilities of what games are and what they could do, as well as starting my relationship with indie games. It became a massive influence over my future taste with games. Even though it has been a very long time since I last played the game properly, it’s still the gold standard I compare other similar games to. The way it created a mood so effectively with its gorgeous artwork, and how it used its mechanics to present puzzles that weren’t just extremely well designed, but got you to think about problems in a completely new way. I expect Jonathan Blow himself might not be that impressed with my take on his game, but I’m still thankful that he gave us something so brilliant and influential.

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