Thursday, 7 August 2008
Braid - Xbox 360
This evening I have been engrossed in the fabulous Braid on Xbox 360. Created by Jonathan Blow, Braid could be mistaken for yet another run-of-the-mill 2D platformer, but after just a few minutes play, it becomes apparent that Braid is much more than that.
Braid plays like an old school Mario side-scrolling platformer, however the real gameplay twist in Braid lies with the ability to rewind time. Each level has jigsaw pieces scattered throughout, which must be collected and assembled. Some lie in easy to reach places, while others initially seem impossible to attain.
Rather than use time travel to simply correct your mistakes, it is instead central to Braid's gameplay and is used to alter the gameworld. Most objects and enemies in Braid follow the natural flow of time, so rewinding time affects them too. But there are certain objects which have a green glow around them. These objects remain constant even when you rewind time, and are the key to solving the puzzle set before you.
For example, in one early level you are faced with a locked door. Unfortunately, the key to the door is at the bottom of a pit with no way out. But by dropping into the pit and collecting the key, you can then rewind time to just before you leapt down, but you'll still be holding the key, allowing you to escape.
Each level throws up ingenious gameplay mechanics, and seemingly impossible situations become clear with a little lateral thought. I'm currently working my way through World 4, where the gameplay has just been turned on its head - moving right forwards time, while walking left rewinds it! I sense many headaches to come!
I've also gone back and collected all 12 jigsaw pieces in the opening world - strangely, named World 2. I was stumped for a while, but the feeling of accomplishment when things fall into place is incredible and some moments will have you grinning like an idiot.
While the gameplay is spot on, the graphics in Braid are equally special, with artist David Hellman creating a beautiful watercolour effect that shifts and changes hues. From gorgeous golden backgrounds and gentle falling rain, to lush green foliage, Braid is simply breathtaking.
To round off an already incredible experience, the soundtrack is outstanding, and possibly the best I've heard all year. Tinkling pianos, gentle string arrangements, calming violin and cello pieces and folk driven scores - it's spellbinding and sets the atmosphere perfectly.
Initially the 1200 point price tag seemed a little on the steep side, however, it has taken Jonathan Blow three years to create this masterpiece, and as a result this is a small price to pay for something as magical as Braid.
Everyone with a 360 owes it to themselves to play this incredible game. Whatever you do, though, don't use a walkthrough - that would spoil everything. Just be patient and everything will become clear in time.
A magnificent achievement.