Braid is a side-scrolling platformer that was released on the Xbox Live Arcade on August 6, 2008. Developed by independent developer Jonathan Blow; players must manipulate time to solve complex puzzles. The PC version of Braid was released on April 10, 2009. A Mac version of Braid was also released on May 20, 2009. A PlayStation 3 version was released on November 12, 2009.
On May 24, 2010, Braid was designated as an Arcade Hit on the Xbox Live Marketplace. Its price was reduced from 1200 Microsoft Points to 800 Microsoft points.
Tim, Braid's main character, reflects on his mistakes in life as he searches for a long-lost princess. Delving deeper and deeper into his tragically-ended relationship with the love of his life, Tim reflects on his lost love as he progresses through the game's six worlds, slowly revealing details to the player as he or she progresses.
The story is told exclusively through text, and is displayed as Tim approaches various pedestal-placed books in the clouds-levels' prologue screen. Each book contains vague, possibly metaphorical information about the protagonist's life. The story is reflective of the gameplay, in that Tim can rewind time to fix his faults, but chose not to/was unable to during what was apparently the biggest mistake of his life. The developers are aiming to reach out to players and evoke an emotional response, and the subtle sadness throughout reflects that concept.
Although the story told throughout most of the game is about a break up or lost love, it's really only there to give the player a reason to play through and set up the general theme of the level. The story, as told from the prologue/epilogue and hinted at by the hidden ending - in which Tim catches the princess and she explodes - is actually about Tim's obsession and eventual regret with creating the atomic bomb between the two World Wars. The "princess" he is trying to find is actually the bomb itself.
The primary principle of Braid is that players are to learn from their mistakes, rather than be penalized for them. That said, any time a player in the game dies, they can simply press the Rewind button to go back to the point before they died, and try again. With this concept, the challenge of the game is not in staying alive, but rather learning how time works in that specific world and mastering it to collect puzzle pieces to move on. There is a lobby area in-game for players to choose the world they wish to play. Players can also use the puzzle pieces collected in the various levels to form a picture near each world's finale. These puzzles can be used to manipulate the world as well, such as luring a baddie to low ground with a make-shift bridge formed from a jig-saw puzzle in order to earn the last piece in an unreachable spot at the end of World 2.
Certain objects cannot be affected by the Rewind feature. Anything with a green glow will continue to advance as normal; clouds shot from cannons often illuminate the green aura to create jumping puzzles that require timing and thinking as you thin the gaps by bending time. Keys or platforms that are lit by green sparkles can be moved through time; for example, if Tim picks up a key that is luminescent-green, he can rewind from the pit he picked it up in and hop back to the top of the cliff while still holding on to it. Anything in purple, however, will automatically reset, or continue its desired path regardless of time travel. Lavender-lit keys can't be picked up and carried through time, as Tim drops it where he left it in the Rewind.
Sometimes, Tim will need to duplicate himself by Rewinding. As Braid is constantly changing the rules, you'll need to be clever enough to figure out the patterns at which Tim's "Shadow" moves and acts - if you hold still before rewinding time, the clone will while you hold the Rewind button. This becomes tricky as players are forced to manipulate multiple levers on various planes of height, and reality. Conquering a specific boss requires dropping Shadow-chandeliers, as the enemy requires a half-dozen or so hits to kill, while players are offered but two chandeliers to deal damage with.
By completing levels entirely - gathering all the puzzle pieces - players can make their way to the attic, the first level, and presumably Tim's origin of regret. Fully completing a jig-saw puzzle unlocks a fifth of a colored ladder that leads to the top of Tim's house, which consists of multiple rooms and five playable worlds (aside from the sixth and last, which is actually World 1). Unlocking the puzzle pieces requires players to simply pick them up, but certain objectives must be met in specific situations, such as manipulating time to your advantage to jump higher/repeatedly and eliminating all enemies on screen to unlock a caged piece. Some of the puzzles will require you to stop and think critically about them, which may prove to be very frustrating at times.
Developer Jonathon Blow said in an interview with Gamasutra that difficulties with Microsoft hindered his development process on Braid. In the interview, he stated "[Microsoft] removed some of the requirements for XBLA games, but there are still a lot of requirements, and I believe that, at least for a single-player game like my game, the vast majority of these requirements are unnecessary."
Art was a huge focal point of Braid's development, and artist David Hellman created a series of blog entries on the Braid Blog to give readers an insight as to where the game came from conceptually.
The game is influenced by, and pays homage to the Super Mario Bros. games most of all. There are many similarities, from the pattern of the enemies, to the way you kill them and even the line "The Princess is in another castle." However it doesn't just do this as simple homage, it is also a succinct metaphor for Tim's journey. The use of that one phrase signifies Tim's search, and he can't find what he is looking for.
At certain points in World 4, Tim is to climb a series of ladders to grab a key. In a nod to Donkey Kong, the enemy-firing cannons have an ugly gorilla design on their side, representing Nintendo's classic Kong. One such stage is named Jumpman, which was Mario's original name in Donkey Kong. But even though Braid appears to be a platformer, it is more of a puzzle game, and its pure gameplay influences come from other platform puzzle games.
Braid's soundtrack consists of licensed music from artists signed to Magnatune. Artists include Jami Sieber, Shira Kammen and Cheryl Ann Fulton. Links to the songs from the game can be found here.
Braid was well recieved critically and commercially. It earned a Metacritic rating of 93%, making it one of the highest rated XBLA releases. It saw more than 55,000 purchases in the first week of release and Blow has stated that the game was financially "very profitable".
Critically, the game was considered a masterpiece by many. The artwork and puzzle design were universally praised, though the most common downside cited was the game's short length. Braid is frequently brought up in "games as art" arguments.
PC System Requirements
- Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP / Vista / 7
- Processor: 1.4GHz or faster
- Memory: 768 MB or more
- Hard Disk Space: 200 MB or more
- Video Card: Pixel Shader 2.0
- DirectX® Version: DirectX® 9.0c
- Controller Support: Microsoft Xbox 360 Controller for Windows
Mac System Requirements
- OS: OS X version Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3, or later.
- Processor: Intel Mac 1.0 GHz or better
- Memory: 512 MB RAM
- Graphics: ATI Radeon(TM) 9500 or better, NVIDIA GeForce(TM) FX 5900 or better, Intel GMA 950 or better
- Hard Drive: 185 MB free space