328: Braid

This is where you'll find threads specific to the games we're covering in Volume Six
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JaySevenZero
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328: 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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