Braid's Themes/Ending (SPOILERS, AHOY!)

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#1 Edited by nutter (127 posts) -

I didn't see any threads on Braid's themes yet and was hoping to spur some sort of discussion on the subject. While I'm not going to pretend to have a sold story down, there are some themes that are definitely pushed into your face over the course of the game.

The title of the game, Braid, is mentioned at least twice in the game, both times attached to some sort of violence. Once, early in the game, "the princess' braid" lashes at Tim. Also, if you read the hidden texts (those that only appear in the epilogue cloud world when 1. a red book is open and 2. Tim is standing on a spot that emotes an angelic note) at the end of the game, the candy shop story talks of Tim pulling violently at his mother's braid in an effort to get the forbidden candy/scientific tools. You could probably infer some mommy issues in this linkage, but I haven't really thought about that too much.

What got me more curious about the name Braid is that there's a professor Donald Braid from Butler who wrote an article, "Doing Good Physics": Narrative and Innovation in Research which is apparently about learning from past successes and failures in physics. In particular, from what I've found (I've not read the article, I just finished Braid and googled some of my ideas about the game) there's mention of avoiding danger and embarrassment by learning through others' past experiences. There are repeated themes of learning from mistakes throughout Braid. It's the bulk of the story leading into level 2, in fact.

Now, I've gone from the name Braid to this professor's article from 2006, and that kind of ties back into some of the more in your face themes that the game offers. Donald Braid was writing about physics. The game pretty clearly depicts the Manhattan project by the epilogue. The whole "now we're all sons of bitches" line and depiction of a bomb being tested in the desert. Also, the narrative mentions Manhattan as a setting of what I assume is Tim's adult life. When he's running through the city with a girl not called "the princess."

Finally, "the princess" is depicted as (abstractly) some sort of glimmering hope that will bring peace and happiness to not just Tim, but the entire world. In the epilogue, "the princess" is the atomic bomb. It's pretty clear when you read the hidden text (that you need the angelic voices to read) on the screen that quotes Oppenheimer.

Anyhow, I just wanted to touch on that one train of circular thought. The game is a story and a warning about a fictional man behind the atomic bomb. He works his whole life, socially awkward, looking for this one unattainable goal of the princess. Whether this goal changes over time and eventually becomes world peace via the bomb, or is world peace via some avenue for Tim's entire life, or is just this ever changing goal of doing something great or finding something better, it seems clear by the end that Tim is looking for world peace. What's interesting about this is the epilogue of world 1 (the final world). This would lead me to believe that the entire game that you played prior to world 1 (worlds 2-6) are actually David Lynch-ish pseudo-realities constructed in the protangonist's own mind to cope with the horror he unleashed via his quest for something noble and great (assuming peace was Tim's goal and the bomb was his means). This also makes sense in that the memories are cloudy and vague. They're sometimes idealistic. They're almost certainly metaphors. Tim needs to piece together the puzzles that are his memories.

On an absolute final note, I suppose the last scene of gameplay makes sense in this light. Tim enters a cave and sees this villain with a woman in his arms. She runs away looking for help as this villain demands that she return and throws a tantrum shaking the earth he stands on. Tim runs towards this damsel in distress with the goal of saving her. I believe she represents humanity. She's not the princess at all. the princess is only an idea. He runs through the cave, trying to rescue her as she helps him along from above ground. The entire time, this massive explosion of flames chases our hero Tim. But when we get the end and realize that Tim was actually the threat, the woman (humanity) runs from Tim, the real villain, into the waiting arms of her white knight. She drops all the traps she can at the villian Tim en route to her waiting hero. This scene, would then be the realization that Tim isn't bringing the princess to the world, he's not making it a better place, he's the monster bringing upon destruction. That's world 1. That's how it all begins. That's what happens prior to Tim walking across a flaming city into his house, trying to piece his mind back together (as the game started when you first turned it on).

So, that's my 10 minutes of spewing my brains onto the forum sans spellcheck or a re-read. If I did that, this little blip would grow ten times in size. Any thoughts? Am I nuts? Is this a viable idea as to what the game is really about? Did I miss the story thread (I was shocked to not find one)?

EDIT: That really was a brain-spew. Spell-checked.....

#2 Posted by RobDaFunk (336 posts) -

Great post.......makes me look at the story in a whole different light.  The whole nuclear bomb vibe had not even entered my head, will go through the story again with an even more open mind!!

Plus, not sure if you know this but David Lynch gets a thanks in Braid's credits. ;) 

#3 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -

I did not know that. Awesome director. Serves me right for not viewing them (which I'm about to).

As for the bomb theory, the Oppenheimer quote was what hit me in the nose and sent me down that path. I'm curious to read other interpretations if anyone out there has them.

#4 Posted by RobDaFunk (336 posts) -
nutter said:
"I did not know that. Awesome director. Serves me right for not viewing them (which I'm about to).

As for the bomb theory, the Oppenheimer quote was what hit me in the nose and sent me down that path. I'm curious to read other interpretations if anyone out there has them."

i heard the angelic tone in the epilogue but didn't catch the writing.....gonna check it next time I'm on it....thnx for that one!

PS Mullholland Drive, one of my Fav Movies. ;)
#5 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -
#6 Posted by RobDaFunk (336 posts) -

i did wonder what that lift was all about at the end.....i need to take another SERIOUS look at the epilogue.....thanks bro

#7 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -

Yeah, consider the scene with the knight and the girl the part in Mulholland drive where Betty realizes that things aren't as she believed them to be (after returning from the performance at the club). The epilogue is then likened to the rest of Mulholland drive where reality crashes into the storybook world.

It's weird, trying to explain your take on something abstract by using Mulholland Drive.

#8 Posted by DerBonk (108 posts) -

To answer your last question in the first post: Yes you did miss the thread, it is here: http://www.giantbomb.com/braid/61-20716/so-what-is-this-game-about-anyway-spoiltastic/35-9941/#3 But maybe the title was misleading and there is nothing going on in there, so we can use this thread I guess, I'll just repost what I wrote in there:

"So, I played through the game in one go. Haven't done a speed-run yet and have not collected any stars, but I'm not sure if this will add anything to the story any way. After I had read the books in the Epilogue last night, I couldn't stop thinking about what this game actually means to say. It's just like the dude from Eurogamer said, you keep thinking about it, even dreaming about it.
I have basically found to interpretations: 

  • Tim is a psycho-maniac who stalks this poor girl and justifies this by his weird princess story, all of this probably because his Mom was mean to him and he could never get what he wanted (the candy store thing). Most of the game is just in his mind and actually only the last scene before the Epilogue is "real".
  • Tim is some sort of scientist who manipulates time to find his princess, but he is not even sure if she exists, he might also be crazy like above.

My interpretation while playing the game was a less psycho, more desperate Tim. One book said that even if he found his princess, the world would not allow him to have her, it would actually break the world, because you can't have the perfect "special someone". This is mirrored by her running away and Tim trying to (desperately) fight for his dream of the princess, but she runs away with another man (who might also just symbolize the cruel reality). The core message would be something like: There is no perfect princess. That's why leaving his girl for the search for some princess was the biggest mistake Tim ever made.

Upon reading the other opinions though (which all make just as much sense, I think), I am just even more excited about the game and want to play it again as soon as possible. This is the first game I have ever seen a discussion about interpretations of its story. This is frackin art. Yes it's weird and maybe it doesn't really make any sense, but maybe that's what it's supposed to be. It reminds me of the stream of consciousness ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stream_of_consciousness_writing) technique found in literature, especially Finnegan's Wake ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnegans_Wake_(novel) ) by James Joyce or Naked Lunch ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_Lunch ) by William S. Burroughs. It's just this crazy mess, shifting perspective, flowing back and forth through time, making no sense at times and than clicking together. Just like the actual gameplay. I would dare to say, this is the first stream of consciousness game, at least a modernist game. It's even less traditional than stream of consciousness in its free flowing narrative and gameplay. It makes even more sense that the game actually has no beginning or end. The Epilogue could be the Prologue, you start in World 2 and end up in World 1 (in which you actually go backwards in time (the flower image) and then find yourself at what you thought was the beginning). It doesn't matter where you start, you always come back to where you were, which is just like Finnigan's Wake works, I think. It also fits the theme of "This is the world, or snapshots of it, go and do what you can with it"

So, my final interpretation would be, that this game is supposed to just get you to make your own interpretation. Find what you think is meaningful, create your own story. Don't listen to what others say, each bit you take and put together is just there because it is significant to you. The strongest story part of the entire game and something that has already really had an impact on me is the last screen of the Epilogue. The castle built from the icons of the levels you passed through. What the books on this screen say is just so true and brilliant. This is also a moment where Blow breaks the foruth wall, the way I see it, "he does not understand" (or something like that), this is not Tim. It's you, the player. This is what you should take away from this. Now go. Build your own castle.


On a side note: If you want to know who the quote (the one marked with the footnote 1 in the epilogue) is from, watch the credits. That was another piece of brilliance in this game, just a subtle, but brilliant touch. Oh and yould you also please post the name, I can't watch the credits right now and forgot who it was and I'd really like to know exactly where the quote is from. Thanks ;)"

There was also a blogpost linked in that thread, that also supports the interpretation of Tim being part of the Manhattan Project: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/MaSuTa/what-i-think-braid-is-about/30-7261/

One thing I wanted to add is how much I love the fact, that this game even starts such thoughts and discussions. More games should be like that.

#9 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -

Incase you haven't played them, DerBonk, I suggest checking out Bioshock (for it's passive story-telling/social commentary using the environment) and Silent Hill 2. SH2 has one of the best stories and soundtracks in the history of gaming, IMO. It'll also leave you going back and playing over and over trying to get more and more meaning and clairity out of things.

#10 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -

Ultimately, my time "analyzing" the game was spent thinking about the work as a means of discussion about the medium. What I saw in the game was a world purposely drawn and designed in metaphor and hallucination with a much more simplistic goal: to illustrate a life spent in pursuit of....well, anything. The princess could be true love or adventure, or-and this is the one I really like- just human experience.  Tim's desire to take a life time of experiences-of different worlds and different times- and turn them into a castle, a strong foundation- ultimately stuck me as a powerful metaphor for growing up, of learning, understanding, and, inevitably, fearing time.
All the different portraits that the player has to rebuild- the child underneath the covers, the sullen teen isolated from friends, the silent young man on the streets: all of those pictures struck me as a young man disillusioned with the way his life has turned out. The princess he is searching for: I took it to mean his childhood, his beloved years as a youth(from that candy store metaphor in the epilogue) were ripped away by time, despite his efforts to maintain and pursue it, his childhood was taken away. Despite his greater, more nuanced knowedge of time, Tim will never be able to reclaim that lost time. But he'll(and I know I) will keep looking for that lost time as well. It's not here right now, but maybe its in another castle.
Hope that wasn't too.....crazy. These are really excellent interpretations of the game, and it got my brains working.

#11 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -

DerBonk:
So, my final interpretation would be, that this game is supposed to just get you to make your own interpretation. Find what you think is meaningful, create your own story. Don't listen to what others say, each bit you take and put together is just there because it is significant to you. The strongest story part of the entire game and something that has already really had an impact on me is the last screen of the Epilogue. The castle built from the icons of the levels you passed through. What the books on this screen say is just so true and brilliant. This is also a moment where Blow breaks the foruth wall, the way I see it, "he does not understand" (or something like that), this is not Tim. It's you, the player. This is what you should take away from this. Now go. Build your own castle.

DerBonk, I think your interpretation-Braid as a game that is meant for the player to design their own interpretation- is dead on.
Try this:go to the very last "page" of the Epilogue. Replace every instance of a pronoun(all the "his" and such) and replace it, in your mind, with the word "You".
If that doesn't validate your theory, I don't know what does.

#12 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

Tim could be a schizophrenic, thoughts in a jumble, paranoid delusions that are never what he had thought. As the game progresses, it seems that each piece of it's puzzle becomes less discernable, and more abstract. We begin thinking Tim is a sane man searching for a princess, but then time is manipulated, things aren't what they seem, the existence of the princess and everything is doubted. In the the 'Braid' level, we see Tim chase after the princess, though the whole level is an illusion, it turns out, she was running from him.  With the epilogue, we see further in to the situation, wiht allusions to various other events, such as the manhattan project, possibly delusions. Group all the story elements with the atmosphere of the levels, the broken landscapes, and odd characters, it is all simply a trick of the schizophernic mind.
Of course, that whole idea may be way off.
I like the whole idea of making your own interpretation. I read that last book again, with Matt's suggestion, and it does work.
On the surface, one can interpret that Tim was simply chasing this princess all along, but as the Eurogamer review stated, it only turns out that "Our princess is always in another castle." Once we think we have found her, it is too good to be true, and all the time we thought we were in pursuit of our princess, it only turns out we were chasing her away.
Underneath, we see the many interpretations we have already discussed, with more to come.

#13 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -

I've come up with a bunch of theories about the game. When reading the stories, I only assume "the princess" to be "the princess" (whatever it is) when the words "the princess" are actually used. If you treat most occurances of "she" as meaning "the princess," you get an entirely different reading of the worlds 2-6 stories. Whatever "the princess" is (I still think it's something along the lines of world piece and that the atom bomb is the means by which to obtain it in Tim's mind) constantly takes Tim away from any happiness he finds.

If the story doesn't center around the bomb:
-Why the Oppenheimer quotes?
-Why the descriptions of great explosions in the hidden text in the epilogue (the one that you can make replace the Oppenheimer text)?
-Why the line about flirting with the end of the world (also hidden text)?
-Why the picture of Uncle Sam in the world 6 puzzle?
-Why Manhattan of all cities as the only named city in the game?
-Why the name Braid (could there be a link between Braid the game and Donald Braid)?

I'm not trying to assert that the interpretation I started this thread with is the right one, merely asking what these seemingly direct symbols (some of the only really direct symbols in the game) are there for if the story is more about the human experience, relationships, etc. What do they then represent? Are they seemingly so direct only as a way to throw off the player? Are they cryptic metaphors that mean something else?

On the other hand, if people here don't mind....poke some holes in the atom bomb theory. I'd love to question the theory that I'm getting more and more dug in on. The more I think about it on my own, though, the more I think it's the most direct sort of story that Jonathan Blow was trying to tell. So....someone shatter my Braid belief system.

#14 Edited by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

The princess is that ideal we're always chasing.  That thing in the distance that we all believe will make us happy, if only we could find that one thing.  It's that shiny new car, that beautiful girl, that house by the ocean...

Tim's pursuit of that ideal, whatever it is, causes alot of hurt & regret in his life.  While at first we're led to believe that the princess is a physical person, later books (I think world 5) depict him saying "I have to go find the princess" and abandoning his lover in that pursuit.  That could be devoting hours to a job, building a bomb, pursuing some idealist dream, whatever.   Tim is always seeking that princess, and as a result, missing out on what's going on at the present time.

When the game starts Tim thinks he has lost the princess because he made a mistake.  I think, in reality, he never had the princess.  As the game states, his memories are cloud & replaced wholesale.  Maybe he has convinced himself he had the princess and lost her, to mentally create a far nobler quest to get her back, rather than having been tragically endlessly pursuing her to no end.

The game when we're playing it is Tim's moment of realization, that he has spent his whole life chasing these ideals, the princess, and has alienated people and missed opportunities the whole time.  The levels are him revisiting old regrets, wishing he could turn back time, wishing he could have been two places at once, possibly wishing he had given that girl a ring...

The end segment is him thinking he has finally caught up to the ideal, the princess.  It's as though a wall of flame had been driving him along, but we then realize that the thing pushing him towards the princess was just an illusion.  He will never have the princess, for by nature she is elusive and can never be attained.  She is a fleeting ideal of perpetual pursuit.  It will always seem like others have attained her, and we are left jealous & empty.

Perhaps the epilogue is him finally coming to grips with all of that, and using those memories as learning experiences, as blocks to build a whole new castle, in which he and a new princess can live happily ever after?

#15 Edited by nutter (127 posts) -

Well said, Vaxadrin. I'm just playing through again (I started over) trying to chew on all the little details that you have to account for when you drill down deeper.

One thing that I'm wondering about is the lack of heads in world 6. The castle at the end has several statues of people without heads. Some of the earlier parts of the worlds have astronauts and the like without heads and carrying their helmets. There are hats decorating the blocks that make up the levels. Are they headless people? Or, as I'm starting to think, are they empty suits, empty roles....the empty people that fill great roles. Is it saying that striving for accomplishments, or being in roles that force you to think of a greater cause, leaves you empty as a person (much as Tim's goal seemed to do to him)? I'll have to go back after work tomorrow and have a look at the characters without heads/empty suits and see if this holds water.

#16 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -

It's all about time, friends. Despite Tim's ability-his ultimate power- to reverse and fast forward the flow of time, he will never have true control of it. Time will forever be his master, as Tim will never be able to completely control it- indeed, in world 3, the game tells the player that Tim needs some aspect of his life to be disassociated from his time control.
The passage of time is truth: when people can begin to accept, to live with the passing of time-and, by consequence, the knowledge that everything in the world is ever changing, always shifting, and ultimately cut short by its mortality- we can finally set out to build our own foundations, and to live life to its fullest. To go out and find our princess, whatever she may be.
The whole game is about Time: even the flow of the levels, with World 2 at the outset and world 1 last, seems to be a design choice to give the player a sense that they can escape the ravages of time, to control the path and the destination of the story. But the game ends where it begins- with the realization that Tim has to stop looking backwards at the past, to stop changing and altering every decision so that it might be "perfect".  Tim needs to look forward, to build his strong foundation-his castle- out of his life's experiences.
The princess isn't in another castle: she's in the castle we ourselves must build out of the sweat and tears of life.


And this does not just extend to the actual events of Braid, or the artistic intents of its design: We, as players, want to control every aspect of our games, and we want to, ideally, perform every task perfectly. We want to be in control, so we disregard our mistakes- a missed jump, a lousy shot, a  wrong decision- and try it again, because we think we have that sense of control.
Ultimately, however, that control is an illusion, created by a wise developer who knows that the real control is his alone. He-and anyone who designs a game-knows how everything will play out. If we think we have control, the developer has done their job, by making the actual act of "playing" a game seem to have no restrictions or limitations.

MAN! There is so much good, solid, genuinely interesting insight you can read into Braid and its ending. When was the last time a game made players think like that?

#17 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -

I agree with you Matt....re: time. But I think that's just a piece of it. It seems that whatever the literal story you get out of the game may be, time and perfection play a role. I saw on the 1up Show that Jonathan Blow seemed kinda disappointed that people hadn't picked up on certain things. I'm dying to know what those things may be. It seems like any single object in the game, from the backgrounds to the architecture you walk on, is supposed to have some meaning. Which brings me to this thought....isn't it odd that the characters, the bosses, the "goombas" the plants, the bunnies, even Tim, the girl, and the knight....they all seem to be of a completely different style than the rest of the game. They never quite fit in. They're kinda gamey. I'm sure there's a reason for this. I couldn't imagine that such amazing art throughout could be complemented by something that just....doesn't seem right.

I think I'm at the point where i'd praise flicking, a lack of AA, slowdown, and lock-ups as having some meaning deeply routed into the game. :P

Braid is turning me into one of those nuts who claimed that Metal Gear Solid needed the overhead camera for the purpose of storytelling (or whatever the excuse was).

#18 Posted by DerBonk (108 posts) -
nutter said:
"

Incase you haven't played them, DerBonk, I suggest checking out Bioshock (for it's passive story-telling/social commentary using the environment) and Silent Hill 2. SH2 has one of the best stories and soundtracks in the history of gaming, IMO. It'll also leave you going back and playing over and over trying to get more and more meaning and clairity out of things.

"

I have played Bioshock, SH2 I haven't played yet. While I agree that Bioshock is a great game with a great story, where I see the difference is what Shawn Elliot describes in his blogpost at: "Unraveling Braid: http://tinyurl.com/5lujyq "

Bioshock is still pretty straight forward, somewhat "realistic", imitating life. Braid is a metaphor through and through. I haven't seen many games, let alone commercial ones, that are like Braid. Especially concerning the stream of consciousness technique.

Regarding the atom bomb thing:

I think the only really direct references are the texts on the fourth red book. But there is another quote in there as well, the italic one, by some dude who is named in the credits, I would really like to know what that quote is about. Is it also concerning the atom bomb? In my opinion, the atom bomb is not meant that literally, but as I said, I think the core meaning is that everybody should (and actually automatically does, while playing) construct his/her own interpretation, so in my opinion your interpretation is very much correct ;)

@Matt

I also agree, time is important to what the game has to say. Shawn has something in his blog that I haven't realized yet and I love, love, love if it's true (can't test right now): Just try and keep rewinding at the start of World 2. ;) THis also ties in with your interpretation of Jonathan's view on the player <-> designer relationship, which your interpretation is very, very interesting and I think might actually be very true.

@nutter

Whoa, I haven't seen the headless part, I gotta check that out, do other worlds have similar visual metaphors? I so need to play Braid again, I'll finally be able once I get home later today.

#19 Posted by fishmicmuffin (1044 posts) -

Your explanation makes exponentially more sense than whatever the hell I had in my head before reading this....

Thanks for the good read    =]

#20 Edited by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

Did anyone else notice that the collecting the puzzle pieces makes a sort of discordant, unpleasant sound?

They sound like a bunch of trombones & xylophones all playing random notes at once.  It has that "chime" sound that videogames have to let you know you collected something important, but at the same time it's not neccessarily a pleasant sound like a 1up in Mario or a ring in Sonic.  Instead it's an atonal blast, almost as though it's not neccessarily a good thing to have the puzzles put back together.

#21 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -

Guys: This is the best series of forum posts I've ever seen.
Seriously.

#22 Posted by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

By the way, there's also an alternate ending to the game if you collect all the stars. ;)

Anyone seen it?

#23 Edited by Optimus7M3 (1 posts) -

Up until now, I viewed the story in Braid more in the light of Tim trying to get back something he has lost, whether it's innocence, or a relationship.

Specifically, at the end of the game, where we see time moving backwards as Tim runs from the fire and towards the princess, the fire that seems to be falling him I think could represent the future, consumed as Tim moves backward through time by the fact that it simply doesn't exisit yet. The princess's assistance at first, now seen through the proper flow of time is actually the attempts of life events trying to distance themselves from Tim. As far as the tungsten rods in the brains of rats and so on...I have no freakin' idea.

BTW. I really enjoy the music in Braid as well. Very unique.

#24 Posted by RobDaFunk (336 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:
"By the way, there's also an alternate ending to the game if you collect all the stars. ;)

Anyone seen it?"

sweet, wanted to know what you get for the 8 stars....many thanks
#25 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

Reading through some of the text again, I get sort of a Freud vibe. Chapter 5 it is quite apparent, what with whisperings into his mothers ear things only a soul mate should. Then, with the games themes of choice, we see decisions in Tim's life relating to Freud's concept of the satisfying our desires for pleasure and of morality. Finally, the whole idea concerning it being an allusion to the Manhattan project reminds me of Freud's defense mechanisms. Perhaps these memories are being regressed, Tim is covering up his memories and altering them to keep himself sane, though it is all a lie.

I must say, Matt, your description of the both the ideas of time and player - game designer relationship seem spot on to me. Great thinking on that one.

#26 Posted by DerBonk (108 posts) -

I definitely thought of freud with the whole mother thing. He wants the candy so badly and is really upset and depressed even, that he is not allowed to get it. Why the heck does his mother lead him to the candy store every day then?!?! It's just like the princess, you always see it and even taste it in your mind, but never ever touch it. His mother and the princess have one thing in common: Braids... (I think we had that before). So, he is looking for a girl, that looks like his mother and he wants to make her buy him candy ;) No, seriously, I think this would support the whole stalker thing, when taken literally. Metaphorically speaking, there are loads possibilities of course ;)

Now, I need to find all the stars to find that secret ending. Do we need a Spoiler-Thread for the secret ending as well ? I mean, is everyone even willing to go through finding all the stars, they are very hard to get to, I hear.

On a side note:I totally agree with Matt, this thread ROCKS!

#27 Edited by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

I think the whole thing with Tim as a child is to show that the mentality of perpetual desire for what we do not have is with us from a very young age.  When we were 8 it was the candy in the store.  When we were 16 it was the pretty girl in school.  When we were 25 it was the big house & family.  The princess is always in another castle.

As for the thread rocking, I think it's great. :)

One of the definitive aspects of postmodern art is it being left intentionally vague and giving the participants free reign over their own interpretations, much like an aforementioned David Lynch film.  Just look at all the different ideas in this thread.  Given that videogames have come into existence after the start of the postmodern era, it seems really fitting that they embrace this kind of art form.  I hate to jump on the "games are art" bandwagon, because I feel that ever since there's been pixel sprites in NES games they have been "art", but this is something on a different level entirely, and I wholeheartedly embrace it.

#28 Posted by DerBonk (108 posts) -

Absolutely, I see Braid as being a post-modern game, which I was alluding to with my remark to the stream of consciousness. I think it's just great, that games have reached this, well, genre of art.  It's really really promising to see a game that does so many things so very differently.

#29 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

I think that other thread we have should be kept as a FAQ for getting the stars, as they are insane to get, but a thread for the extra ending is a good idea, to keep this one spoiler free for THAT ending.
Also, I need help getting the angelic notes. I can get some of them, but can't figure out how to see the text.

#30 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:
"I think the whole thing with Tim as a child is to show that the mentality of perpetual desire for what we do not have is with us from a very young age.  When we were 8 it was the candy in the store.  When we were 16 it was the pretty girl in school.  When we were 25 it was the big house & family.  The princess is always in another castle.

As for the thread rocking, I think it's great. :)

One of the definitive aspects of postmodern art is it being left intentionally vague and giving the participants free reign over their own interpretations, much like an aforementioned David Lynch film.  Just look at all the different ideas in this thread.  Given that videogames have come into existence after the start of the postmodern era, it seems really fitting that they embrace this kind of art form.  I hate to jump on the "games are art" bandwagon, because I feel that ever since there's been pixel sprites in NES games they have been "art", but this is something on a different level entirely, and I wholeheartedly embrace it."

I'm in the totally opposite camp as you, Vaxadrin. Despite how much I wanted to embrace gaming as a legitimate art form(if only to prove the medium had some intellectual value to my parents), I'd come to think that almost all games aspire to be entertainment and nothing else. Rarely does this medium offer anything up simply for edification, instead hoping to bedazzle us with sights and sounds before walking away. The reason so few games have strived to be something greater than entertainment isn't, as one might think, because of the very early corporatization of the industry (though that certainly plays a factor). Rather, I think that creating a working, relatively bug-free game is such a technical challenge that even getting a program running requires a team of genius programmers to make it go. To finish a game, you need the technical people first and foremost, so very few games ever have the opportunity to aspire to more.

The few other "Art" games over the past 10 years always succeed by putting an increased focus on unique art design, or unconventional mechanics and a great aesthetic, but those almost always comes at the expense of some technical facet of the game design. Rez is an amazing experience that makes your heart swell the second you realize what’s going on, but, from the gameplay perspective, it’s a on-rails shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon, Bland at best and boring at worst. It's amazing, but players to look past the gameplay to enjoy it.

Same goes for Shadow of the Colossus": few people would deny that game's incredible scope, wonderful design, and dark ending rank among the finest the medium has produced. Again, however, that increased creativity caused other aspects of the game to suffer: the framerate is atrocious throughout, rarely above 20 FPS and in a constant state of flux. The gameplay mechanics are interesting and different from any other "platformer" or any game to feature climbing period. But the controls are wonky, awkward to adjust to, and are even more difficult to manage thanks to the game's unhelpful camera. Its one of the greatest game's of all time....but, really, that could very well occur once you stop playing it.

That’s what makes Braid so remarkable: no one aspect of the game in anyway intrudes or detracts from any other aspect. The luscious art design in Braid doesn't in any way hurt the gameplay: on the contrary, it enhances it, makes the player enjoy exploring each individual environment in the game while never fooling them into thinking that some part of the background is important to solving a puzzle. The gameplay is wonderful, starting with rock-solid platforming mechanics and the time control ability, but slowly evolves and meditates on the gameplay over time, so it never becomes stale. The music is almost too wonderful sometimes, always enhancing the levels while never distracting the player too much. And the story is dark, hallucinatory, laden with more metaphor in a single paragraph than most games dare have in the entirety of the product, leaving the player with masterful, iconic imagery that can, pretty easily, connect to their own lives and play styles. But the story never "interferes" with the gameplay, never gets in the way of solving the puzzle and, indeed, helps the player to understand why the time mechanic changes from level to level.

And, of course, there's that ending, that moment when the world seems to stop, just for an instant, and, in one brilliant flash, the story becomes perfectly clear. But it doesn't become perfectly clear: we know what the ending is, but the player is still left to guess what it means, to try and find some nugget of wisdom, some truth to take with them.

Braid is our medium's Citizen Kane, a remarkable gem that may never reveal every single one of its secrets. The game's ending is the iconic Rosebud from that film: a moment of remarkable clarity, soon superceeded by a million more questions.

Braid doesn't pander to the audience. It trusts players, trusts them to complete the puzzles, to listen to the soundtrack, to enjoy the visuals, to find the deeper meaning in the game. A legion of  360 users, writing the game off as a "bad Mario clone" to go play more Soul Calibur, will never understand that final irony. How quickly they leave a worth wild opportunity, a monumental achievement in the medium, to go play something that doesn't have a shred of intellectual depth, for fear of "insulting" the player.

Braid is a balence between gameplay and expierience that is unmatched by any product released to date.

....boy, that post got out of hand fast. I just like that game so much that I start writing and can't stop, even if I make a leap of logic that might seem insane!

#31 Posted by DerBonk (108 posts) -

While I am trying to get one star that simply takes time to get, I just wanted to chime in and say two things:

1. Let's be careful not to drift off topic and discuss if games are art too much, I'd hate to see this thread go away. If games are art comes down to what art actually is and that basically lies in the eye of the beyholder, I guess ;) I do think, most games can be seen as art. But I can also see, why people would say, that they are not art. It's just not really an important discussion imho, in the end art is just a label.

2. I agree with Matt on the importance of Braid. I do think there are some games, that have tried similar things, you mentioned Rez and SotC. Especially Rez, which also has a deeper storyline than you might expect. I also agree that Braid is one of the very few games that get it right. I do think Portal is another example, but it is much more geared towards entertainment than Braid. Especially getting the stars right now is rather tedious and VERY difficult, it is rewarding, but entertaining....I don't know. This is, of course, also Jonathan Blow telling us how stupid collecting arbitrary stars/coins/rings/pieces of underwear in games really can be. A lot of games don't even really reward you with anything besides the number 100 before %. We should also talk about all the gameplay metaphors in Braid. There obviously is a lot of Mario Bros in there. I also saw some Ico, when you are helping the Princess (of course that gets reversed, but still), I felt so emtionally attached to the princess in that scene, which made the twist to come even harder and more devastating. The general structure, as I have said, reminds me of Rez, where there is one (hidden) world which actually is the most important one. You can't say you played Rez, if you have never played the fifth world. I am sure that there are WAY more references, I can't think of any right now, but it'd be nice to collect a list somewhere, could go in the actual article.

On a different side note: David Hellman (the creator of all the visual art) wrote a great series on his blog about the art of Braid, I hope you have all read it already, it's really interesting. He also hints that there might be something up with the flags in front of the castle. So, I looked at them and they do look like those signal flags you can see on some ships. Looked that up on Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_maritime_signal_flags ) and here is the result:

  • World 2 (blue/white small checkered) means "N - Negative"
  • World 3 (red/white checkered) means "U - You are running into danger"
  • World 4 (yellow/black checkered) means "L - In harbor: The ship is under Quarantine/At sea: You should stop your vessel instantly/With four numerals, latitude/Inport: Radiological Hazard"
  • World 5 (blue cross on white) means "X - Stop carrying out your intentions and watch for my signals"
  • World 6 (yellow and blue thick stripes) means "K - I wish to communicate with you. With one numeral, I wish to communicate with you by; 1) Morse signalling by hand-flags or arms; 2) Loud hailer (megaphone); 3) Morse signalling lamp; 4) Sound signals. Inport: Man Aloft."

I hope I got them all right, but it looks like they fit. Especially interesting is "Radiological Hazard", of course, fits Nutter's interpretation VERY well. I think it is VERY interesting that 5 and 6 go towards someone trying to communicate, to tell the player about something.  Of course after that, there is no world, there is just World 1 going back to the beginning. I do think that Blow communicates with the player directly through these flags, breaking the fourth wall (after all I looked it up on Wikipedia, so the wall was not only broken, but freakin' blown to bits ;) ) and he either wants you to pay attention during World 1 and the Epilogue or there is something else. I don't know. It could also just be intricate foreshadowing, which woudl also make sense and be very impressive as well. This game is just crazy.


#32 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:
"Did anyone else notice that the collecting the puzzle pieces makes a sort of discordant, unpleasant sound?

They sound like a bunch of trombones & xylophones all playing random notes at once.  It has that "chime" sound that videogames have to let you know you collected something important, but at the same time it's not neccessarily a pleasant sound like a 1up in Mario or a ring in Sonic.  Instead it's an atonal blast, almost as though it's not neccessarily a good thing to have the puzzles put back together."
I hadn't thought about that until now, but I think you're right. Even when the puzzle is pieced together, there's no fanfare. It's kinda bleak, the game's reaction to your solving a puzzle.

I'm assuming the dissonant sound has to do with the pain of reconstructing reality out of the idealized fictional past that Tim has made up in his own mind. In coming to terms with what he is, he's making these painful discoveries and piecing them together.
#33 Posted by nutter (127 posts) -
BoG said:
"Reading through some of the text again, I get sort of a Freud vibe. Chapter 5 it is quite apparent, what with whisperings into his mothers ear things only a soul mate should. Then, with the games themes of choice, we see decisions in Tim's life relating to Freud's concept of the satisfying our desires for pleasure and of morality. Finally, the whole idea concerning it being an allusion to the Manhattan project reminds me of Freud's defense mechanisms. Perhaps these memories are being regressed, Tim is covering up his memories and altering them to keep himself sane, though it is all a lie.

I must say, Matt, your description of the both the ideas of time and player - game designer relationship seem spot on to me. Great thinking on that one."


I DEFINATELY believe that the story is a matter of reconstructing Tim's memories and, in doing so, learning who Tim is as a person. That's where I initially thought that the whole thing was rather Mulholland Drive-esque. RobDaFunk pointing out that Mulholland Drive's director, David Lynch, is mentioned in the credits all but confirms that for me. The repressed memories are in that state due to his mind blocking out some horrible climactic truth. In my original post, this truth is the bomb. It could also be throwing so much away in search for an unobtainable perfection. It could also be that he's a bit of a misogynist (there are a few instances of violence against women in the game).

Re: the misogynist angle, he was violent with his mother and dismissive of women in his life. He dropped them rather easily in search for something better and often imagined them waiting and loving him. Then when you read the hidden texts in the epilogue, they're pretty mean in their content. The book where Tim runs through Manhattan and the subways leading a girl to safety, for example. That text gets changed to three different versions of girls protesting. They cite pain, being dragged off to a place they don't want to go, etc. This could be a sign that he's been repeatedly violent towards women in that same situation. Could he be a predator? That reality could be enough to cause some repression of memories.

Going down this line of thought, could the girl at the end be the princess? If the princess is really a woman, maybe he was searching for a perfect woman and found her. He seems like a stalker standing outside her bedroom window. Maybe scaring this woman into the arms of her knight in shining armor is what wakes Tim up to his creepy and violent tendancies....


Just another theory off the top of my head. I love this thread by the way. There are a TON of great ideas and observations in here.

#34 Edited by oraknabo (1514 posts) -

I finished Braid last night, though I need to go back though and get the stars. I think too much is being made of the Atomic bomb stuff. I think a case could be made for Tim being a scientist, but I don't think there was any kind of nuclear holocaust or real creation of time powers. I focused more on the interaction of the text before the epilogue, the puzzles and the "closure" level. I think the bomb might be more symbolic of the destruction Tim has brought on his own life. The rest of the epilogue seems to be more about his childhood and the seeds of his psychological issues.

The story I get from Braid is that Tim was married and lost everything. The completed puzzles tell of the mistakes he made - infidelity, alcoholism, maybe even child abuse - all fueled by a deep feeling of dissatisfaction that leads him to pack up and leave his wife, but things go even worse because he doesn't stop drinking and ends up homeless and deranged. You then play Tim as he tries through a delirious, schizophrenic haze to "pickup the pieces" and recover the memories of his past. But on top of it all is an obsession, maybe with someone he loved before his unhappy marriage or one of the women he cheated with, and his search to put his life back together becomes a quest to find "the princess".  It seems that she has moved over the years and Tim has to do some searching before he finds her "castle".

The text before world 1 talks about how Tim sees things in opposite of the rest of the normal world and once the "princess" wakes with Tim looking in from her balcony, what we saw from Tim's view as an attempt to "save" her - as he climbs through the final level with her help - becomes in real-time, an attempt to chase her as she flees from her home into the arms of a real savior, desperately trying to impede his progress.

I'm not familiar with the physicist mentioned, but the title reminds me of Douglas Hofstadter's book,  Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid that deals with math, art and music and ideas like undecidability, recursion, and strange loops. The title also makes me think of Rapunzel and Tim's attempt to climb to the balcony in the final level. Overall though, I think the main meaning is just how well the game intertwines the text, art and gameplay into a total experience.

#35 Posted by Bennyishere (1685 posts) -

I finished Braid today, but reading this thread I realize I should play it again. A lot of the points made in this thread seem very likely. Hopefully I'll get back to you with a better assessment. At first I went with the stalker theory, but I'm having second thoughts. I've certainly got a lot more thoughts out of Braid than I have in any other XBLA title!
I am very excited to see what collecting all the stars does.

#36 Edited by BoG (5192 posts) -
oraknabo said:
"I finished Braid last night, though I need to go back though and get the stars. I think too much is being made of the Atomic bomb stuff. I think a case could be made for Tim being a scientist, but I don't think there was any kind of nuclear holocaust or real creation of time powers. I focused more on the interaction of the text before the epilogue, the puzzles and the "closure" level. I think the bomb might be more symbolic of the destruction Tim has brought on his own life. The rest of the epilogue seems to be more about his childhood and the seeds of his psychological issues.

The story I get from Braid is that Tim was married and lost everything. The completed puzzles tell of the mistakes he made - infidelity, alcoholism, maybe even child abuse - all fueled by a deep feeling of dissatisfaction that leads him to pack up and leave his wife, but things go even worse because he doesn't stop drinking and ends up homeless and deranged. You then play Tim as he tries through a delirious, schizophrenic haze to "pickup the pieces" and recover the memories of his past. But on top of it all is an obsession, maybe with someone he loved before his unhappy marriage or one of the women he cheated with, and his search to put his life back together becomes a quest to find "the princess".  It seems that she has moved over the years and Tim has to do some searching before he finds her "castle".

The text before world 1 talks about how Tim sees things in opposite of the rest of the normal world and once the "princess" wakes with Tim looking in from her balcony, what we saw from Tim's view as an attempt to "save" her - as he climbs through the final level with her help - becomes in real-time, an attempt to chase her as she flees from her home into the arms of a real savior, desperately trying to impede his progress.

I'm not familiar with the physicist mentioned, but the title reminds me of Douglas Hofstadter's book,  Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid that deals with math, art and music and ideas like undecidability, recursion, and strange loops. The title also makes me think of Rapunzel and Tim's attempt to climb to the balcony in the final level. Overall though, I think the main meaning is just how well the game intertwines the text, art and gameplay into a total experience."
Yes, I must completely agree. I had thought that the whole idea of Tim working on the manhattan project seemed out there, but in your context, it makes sense, the whole atomic bomb idea is simply another metaphor. The game seems full of metaphors, as you mention picking up the pieces, which I had also noticed, one of the easier things to pick up one.

Also, I think perhaps Tim may have some sort of dissociative disorder (likely due to the stress he has gone through), which is why he is picking up the pieces, and I'm looking for something to confirm this.
#37 Posted by oraknabo (1514 posts) -
nutter said:
"BoG said:

RobDaFunk pointing out that Mulholland Drive's director, David Lynch, is mentioned in the credits all but confirms that for me.

It's funny. I hadn't noticed David Lynch in the credits, but in Lynch's film, Lost Highway, he lists Kurt Godel as a technical advisor, one of the main subjects of the Hofstader book I mentioned above.
#38 Edited by Moe (31 posts) -

wat the hell i played the demo and it sucked!!!!!!!!!! BORING BLAND and liked by RYAN DAVIS. That guys got the worst taste. I heard he stayed up to 12 on new years just to play animal crossing.

BoG edit: I should delete this, as it is trolling, but it adds personality. It stays!

#39 Posted by MattBodega (1907 posts) -
Moe said:
"wat the hell i played the demo and it sucked!!!!!!!!!! BORING BLAND and liked by RYAN DAVIS. That guys got the worst taste. I heard he stayed up to 12 on new years just to play animal crossing.

BoG edit: I should delete this, as it is trolling, but it adds personality. It stays!"
That's.....that's just awesome.
#40 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

Ok, just noticed something. On my star run through, I haven't been putting the puzzles together. I've noticed that all take the same shape on the screen, a sort of tic-tac-toe pattern. No idea if this means anything,  but with this game you never know.

#41 Posted by oraknabo (1514 posts) -

I missed this in my earlier post, but I don't see any reason the "princess" couldn't just be the wife Tim left and he is just an alcoholic runaway husband returning to stalk a wife that is now "in another castle" than the home they made together.

#42 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -

One thing. This puzzle game is exactly that. The entire game is a puzzle by itself, consisting of many little puzzles. Just an idea that popped into my head that I had to share.

Ok, did anyone see the poem in the credits? It could be worth mentioning (perhaps this is related to my getting all of the stars?)

Who has see the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.
    -
Christina Rosetti

The wind is passing thro'.
But when the leaves hang trembling
Neither I nor you:
Who has seen the wind?


The first piece is at the beginning, second at the end.

#43 Posted by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -
....there's credits?  I don't recall having seen them.  Are they in the menu?

oraknabo said:
"I missed this in my earlier post, but I don't see any reason the "princess" couldn't just be the wife Tim left and he is just an alcoholic runaway husband returning to stalk a wife that is now "in another castle" than the home they made together."
Occam's Razor.  Cuttin' that shit.
#44 Posted by oraknabo (1514 posts) -

There is also the possibility that the whole game is the deranged Tim wandering around their old, empty house looking for her before he finds out where she really lives.

#45 Posted by BoG (5192 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:
"....there's credits?  I don't recall having seen them.  Are they in the menu?

oraknabo said:
"I missed this in my earlier post, but I don't see any reason the "princess" couldn't just be the wife Tim left and he is just an alcoholic runaway husband returning to stalk a wife that is now "in another castle" than the home they made together."
Occam's Razor.  Cuttin' that shit."
Yes, the menu, under Help & Options.
#46 Edited by Player1 (3892 posts) -

wow I truthfully never thought of it this way. You seem right to me, all your ideas make sense. It all makes sense now. 

EDIT- just read all the others guys' explanations. I guess the story is kinda up to you. To be truthful, the entire time I thought Tim was actually trying to find a lost wife, his princess. I thought that by rewinding time, he was trying to make the perfect relationship.

But it didn't work, because it was to perfect. He rewinded everything, stopped time at every mistake. Then I really didn't know what happened.

So I guess my decision is the atom bomb thing, though while playing the game that thought never would have crossed my mind. They do leave it open for whatever though. 

To further your thinking check this out!

  
 

The princess defiantly blows up. You are right man. 
#47 Edited by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -
#48 Edited by DerBonk (108 posts) -

Okay, I guess this just spoiled some things about the 8th star already, I don't think we should open another thread for that then. I guess we are going to get all the stars very soon anyway, or we won't ever, because they are FRACKIN impossible to get ;)

On topic: I love, love, love what all you guys think, it's just so interesting to read and so wonderful to get so many reactions. The "husband and wife" theory sound VERY promising and I guess if you mix everything up, you get an even better picture. Maybe Tim is just imagining that he is part of the atomic bomb test team, because he is a scientist and what happened between him and his wife (I don't think he necessarily is/was abusive) reminds him of that first bomb test, something you wish you could rewind, take back, undo. I think when he stalks his former wife and she runs away, she is running towards her new husband/boyfriend. This was my first impression (as I wrote above) any way and it just makes me so sad, how desperate Tim is.

Then again, I stand by my interpretation of the last page of the Epilogue. This is not about the story Blow tells the player, it's about what the player takes away from what Blow is presenting. Pick the bits and pieces that are important to you and you will get your personal castle (i.e. interpretation, meaning, message). I think that's what makes Braid's story so strong, everybody can relate to some parts and build his/her own castle. I would really be interested if our interpretations are linked to who we are and the experiences we have made. I for my part have a great fear of loosing my girlfriend to another guy (nearly happened once) and also of making mistakes I can't take back, so that's the strongest part that I took from Braid. To me it's about relationship. Now, nutter, are you a scientist or aspire to be one? ;)

On a side note: I think it is great, that the credits are in the menu, this emphasizes that Braid has no end and is absolutely non-linear.

EDIT (did not want to double post):

I just got all the stars and discovered a nifty little tid-bit, I won't spoil it, if you don't ask for it. Just rewind after you "got closer to the princess" in the level Braid (for a spoiler filled description, go to the stars thread). Now, having all the stars got me thinking, what contellation is that any way ? I looked them all up and here it is (I think, I could very well be wrong, but it is the closest one imo): Virgo ( http://www.astronoo.com/uk/springConstellations.html ) or the Virgins. This is so very fitting, this constellation represents the princess of course. Now, I looked Virgo up on Wikipedia and it seems like there is some uncertainty to what her mythological background is. She can be seen as many goddesses ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgo_(constellation)#Mythology ), but the two most interesting ones I think are:

  1. Astrea ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astraea_(mythology) ), who was a personification of justice and "Astraea was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Iron Age, the final stage in the world's disintegration from the utopian Golden Age. Fleeing from the wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo; the scales of justice she carried became the nearby constellation Libra", this would support the atom bomb theory. You have a new age, the atomic age and of course there is lots of wickedness of humanity involved
  2. Persephone ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persephone ), she wa abducted by Hades (i.e. Tim) but freed by Zeus (i.e. Knight). BUT due to eating some seeds, she has to return to Hades for four months each year. This could be the stalking element, the terror from before always coming back. (In the myth it explains why we have winter, because she is a goddess of nature and when she goes away, flowers stop blooming etc. I think that's just beautiful)

So, again it is still very open to interpretation and a tiny spoiler if you haven't gotten all the stars yet: 

The image appearing around the constellation is a chained woman in a dress, which I guess is the princess. But why is she chained ?!? I'm not sure yet. In the stars thread, there was speculation, that maybe you reached your goal and caught the princess. Maybe it's just a symbol for what Tim wants and it shows what it would actually do to her. I'm not sure.

Spoiler end

I am also still wondering what that booth below the constellation is. Every tiny detail had some purpose in this game. What's the purpose of this? Especially with the shutters down, I think they might open one day. Maybe starting August 23rd (or something), as it is the time of the constellation Virgo....

EDIT AGAIN:

I just looked the terms from the alternative candy store text up and it just blew my mind ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_calculus http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_monopole http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_physics#It_from_bit ). To me it all points towards the princess being the answer to life, the universe and all the rest. It's the ultimate answer. Ethical calculus is about the ultimate, optimal ethical course of action. Magnetic monopels are used for Unified Theories and the It-from-bit is so fundamental, it's about the core of what is. It's just crazy, especially since it makes sense in the context of Braid. And again it leaves our interpretations open: Tim could be a scientist, a philosopher, a programmer ror just a geek ;) Whatever you think he is. I love it.

#49 Edited by Illmatic (1358 posts) -

**SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER**
***ALT ENDING SPOILER***
***ALT ENDING SPOILER***

That actually clears up so many questions I had about the game. I hadn't even realized that the backdrop of the opening area was in fact a burning city till you mentioned that. I'd like to add though that when you get 7 out of the 8 stars and play world 1 again, it changes the level in that it makes it possible to reach the girl, but when you do a massive explosion fills the screen in white light. When the light clears, the princess is gone and you stand there alone. All the music is stopped and when you go to the bed, all that lies there is the eight and final star. I'm not good with analogy so I'll just leave it at that.

#50 Posted by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

What about the bathroom in the house?  In it there are what look like toy blocks up on the shelf.  The letters are:

"W A S D" (like the directional controls for most games on a keyboard, in the same layout, too!) on the left, and "I" on the right.

My first instinct was that they're some sort of controls adjustment room for the PC version, but I'm not so sure considering there's already a menu outside the game.

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