What Made “Braid” a Punk-Rock Video Game? A Look Back at the Innovative Title

September 4th, 2009 by Alex Vadukul Leave a reply »

Last year the video gaming community was abuzz over Braid, an Xbox title that has been described as “Super Mario set in the future.” It wasn’t like most popular games: it was short (it could be beat in a day), its graphics were pretty but far from state of the art, and it was designed in unrevolutionary 2-D. It had also been made independently, not by a large commercial game company but mostly by one man. Its developer, Jonathan Blow, spent most of his life savings on the game and when he put it up for download on the Xbox’s online server he didn’t think it would cause much of a stir (he was dead wrong). Braid — whose protagonist is a young man named Tim who has the ability to pause and rewind time — started outscoring commercial Xbox games that had cost tens of thousands of dollars to make. But more importantly, it left players rethinking what video games are all about.

Although the two games may look similar, Braid is anything but a Super Mario Bros. clone. Tim’s apparent goal is to find his “princess” and he travels through several lucid dreamlike worlds to do so. Each world is characterized by a different quirk in its time function. In World 3 for example, time moves forward if Tim moves forward, but it moves backwards if he moves backwards. In World 4 Tim can create a duplicate of himself that reenacts his last actions. The gamer needs to take advantage of such quirks to solve puzzles and collect jigsaw pieces.

There is no “title screen” or “introduction.” Instead game play starts abruptly without an explanation. There is no concept of death because the player can rewind time. The level designs are playful and painterly, designed by web comic artist David Hellman. Each level looks like a vivid breathing Cézanne painting and the dreamy sound track is good enough to liste...

Article Source: Rolling Stone : Rock and Roll Daily


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