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 displayed as Tim approaches various books in each level's prologue screen. Each book contains vague, possibly metaphorical information about Tim'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, the levels themselves do not advance the plot. Often, the text describes feelings that are reflected in the level's mechanics.
The inclusion of a quote by Kenneth Bainbridge, the director of the Trinity nuclear bomb test, "Now we are all sons of bitches," has led some to speculate about a secret meaning to the game. A hidden ending, wherein Tim actually reaches the princess, causing her to explode in a nuclear detonation, adds further reason for speculation. Some see this as a literal interpretation, with Tim being the inventor of the atomic bomb, while others may see it as more of a metaphor of regret for irreversible actions.
The core mechanic of Braid is the Rewind function, allowing players to reverse their mistakes, including deaths. Each world requires the player to collect and then assemble pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. These puzzles can be used to manipulate the world, such as luring a baddie to low ground with a make-shift bridge in one picture to jump to a puzzle piece in an unreachable spot. The challenge of the game is not in staying alive, but rather in understanding the new mechanics of each world. The level select screen is a house containing rooms with numbered doors, although they are not in order.
Certain objects cannot be affected by the rewind feature and are marked with a green, glowing outline. This includes moving platforms and keys to locked doors, in some instances. Objects with a purple glow, however, will automatically reset, or continue its desired path regardless of time travel. Purple glowing keys can't be picked up and carried through time, as Tim drops it where he left it in the Rewind.
The mechanic of one world involves shadows that repeat previous actions after rewinding. These shadows include enemies, objects, and Tim himself. Manipulation of multiple shadow objects is needed to pull levers, jump on enemies, and open doors. This level's boss requires dropping shadow-chandeliers on it, as the enemy requires a half-dozen or so hits to kill, while players are only given two chandeliers to deal damage with.
Fully completing a jigsaw puzzle unlocks one fifth of a multi-colored ladder that leads to the attic and the door to World 1.
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 players 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.
- 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
- 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