Last week, the game Braid was released on the XBox Live service for about $15. The price point started off a mild rant storm on portions of the internets that are very geeky, somewhat cheap and populated by people who spend more time bitching about the price of games than they do bathing or actually spending time with other human beings.
Okay, I’m being a bit harsh, but debating the cost of a game before actually playing it is a tad naif… Which is why I decided to stay out of that “debate” until I’d actually purchased the damn game and given in a full go.
That time has come and gone, and I can safely say that this is a game that strives for greatness with its call backs to the very roots of platform gaming, the stunning soundtrack, the imaginative graphics and the quirky new gameplay mechanics. But is that enough?
Braid has one major claim to fame, and it is the new gimmick it adds to the genre: Time manipulation. Many games before this have attempted to add some sort of temporal mechanic to the mix, and have been met with varying levels of success. The full integration of time into game play is one thing that Braid does absolutlely flawlessly. Be it the player controlled “rewind” or other stage specific time-shenanigans, it just works. There are areas, for example, where time only flows as you move – if you are going forward, so is time. If you stop, it stops. If you go backwards, it does too. It just works, and it’s just damn cool.
Sadly, the rest of the game just doesn’t feel quite as fleshed out. The time thing is there, and it’s great, but the puzzles are etiher “really easy” or “god damn frustratingly hard”, no real space in between. It can, and occasionally does, detract from the fun of just playing the game.
It’s also pretty darn short, which is a bummer. And it’s those too things, the shortness and the complete unevenness of the game that makes me think $15 is $5 too much for this game. If I thought there would be hours of replayability to it, then I would mind so much. But, for me, it’s so frustrating that it’s all I can do to play through it the first time – Once I get a puzzle, I’m not going to go back and attempt it again – there’s no point. And I know that $5 isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things, but it IS half the price of another game, another game. So, realistically Braid should be the equivalent of two games, which it is not.
However, this is just my opinion – you should play the demo and make up your own mind. You probably won’t regret it.