Braid will break your brain
When done right, I have always liked "puzzles" in games, even though different people seem to quantify the term "puzzle" in different ways when it comes to video games. Whether you simply think of a "puzzle" as a jigsaw puzzle, or just any challenge that requires a step by step procedure to complete, Braid has them. Lots of them. And they are really, really good. Braid is a puzzle game in every sense of the word, and it will attempt to break your brain in as many ways as possible.
Which, of course, is a good thing. While all the thinking may hurt your head from time to time, the sheer variety of abstract (yet logical) thinking Braid requires of its players is a refreshing change of pace from the horde of straight forward games nowadays. There is rarely an obvious answer to any of the game's numerous puzzles. Yet once you start understanding the implications of the time manipulation tools available to you, the puzzles and their answers make sense. These are smartly designed puzzles, and feel extremely rewarding once you complete them. Even the game's tougher challenges are enticing in a way that you will want to see them through. And seeing that each world in the game has its own time mechanic to introduce, you will have the opportunity to retrain your brain many times over. The astonishing variety of Braid's puzzles are introduced with perfect pacing, making Braid a game that never loses steam from beginning to end.
Other than its outstanding puzzles, Braid also has an aesthetic quality to it. There is an abstract story being told here, and while some of the details may elude the more logical minded beings like myself, I could still appreciate its tone, as well as the artistic quality that permeated every part of the game. The story, while cryptic, was still enjoyable in a fairy tale kind of way, though the art style and music were what did it for me. They mesh perfectly together with each world's unique theme and gameplay mechanic to paint a clear picture that words couldn't possibly describe. Even the jigsaw puzzles (the pieces of which you find by completing the game's other puzzles) of each world tell their own story. All of this leads to a cleverly designed presentation that goes to great lengths to not only supplement the strong puzzles, but to join with them to make Braid a full package.
And in the end, that's exactly what Braid is- a full package. Sure, there is some emphasis on the puzzles, but the rest of the game's design is so well executed and so visible at every moment that Braid rarely feels like "just a puzzle game". I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of Braid, and believe there is no better use for your $15 than this when it comes to video games in 2008.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.