As Mike Gapper on Xbox World puts it: get it, get it, get it, get it, get it, GET IT!
Disclaimer: I haven’t got it, but I’ve played the PC version – which is coming later this year – at various stages of development. I’ll update this post once I’ve had a moment to try the finished thing on filthy Xbox.
James regular Jason L deserves profound thanks for putting me onto this, long, long before it was cool, and I hope he and anyone else who plays it will take a sec to weigh in on the end product here.
It’s a platform game in which you can rewind time as far as you like, and each chapter layers another mechanic on top of that. The best creates a shadow-you each time you stop rewinding, and the shadow-you runs off and does what you did the first time while you try to co-operate with him. You. Scle.
It’s been getting maximum scores (it got 9/10 in Edge, but Edge only give 10s when they’re wrong, so 9 is the maximum possible correct score), and will likely continue to do so. Those places will use words like “ingenious”, “astonishing”, “staggering”, “masterpiece”, so I don’t have to. Some will mention art, triggering a thousand irritated sighs. One of them insists it is just like The Watchmen, though in what sense is still unclear after a paragraph of strenuous explanation.
My thing is, this is unlike anything we’ve played before, it’s a constant delight, and the second best puzzle game I’ve ever played. It’s $15 or Â£10, and if you think this is too much you are a small and boring man or maness.
Update: I should say, though, that it has a some problematic bits. The full thing, now that I’ve played it, is effectively identical to the early PC version I’d had a go with, but this time through I’m not moving on from each world until I’ve got all the puzzle-pieces. Which means I’m solving a lot of puzzles I just skipped over last time – you don’t need to get any of them to actually progress, until the very end.
There’s one puzzle in World 2 that can’t be solved when you first reach the level it’s on. And it uses a counter-intuitive mechanic that’s never used before or since without explaining it.
There’s another in World 3 where a problem at the start of the level can’t be solved until you ignore it, leave the area, and then encounter another one-off unexplained mechanic that renders it irrelevant.
These two bits are problems because there are lots of seemingly impossible puzzles in Braid with brilliantly clever solutions. So having a couple that actually are impossible with the current apparatus betrays the player’s confidence that there is a solution to the harder puzzles, that he won’t be wasting his time if he sits there and really thinks about it. Because of these two, sometimes, he is.
World 4 is the only one where the new mechanic isn’t a bonus ability, but a restriction. At times it’s very clever, and it’s probably the most unusual of them all, but just as often the solution comes down to a very fiddly matter of whether you were facing left or right at the time you did something.
The last of these levels has some real inconsistencies in the way certain objects behave when you’re rewinding – the game has two concepts of what ‘six seconds ago’ means, and it shows one of them while rewinding, then switches to the other when you stop.
I still suggest avoiding walkthroughs – these are just three puzzles among seveal hundred – but if you’re really stuck on something, it’s worth moving on and coming back to it. Even if it’s not one of these, it’s funny how thinking in a completely new way for the next level will usefully reorient your brain to go back and tackle the last.
Update: And yes, my favourite puzzle game ever is Portal. Partly because it doesn’t make mistakes like this.
I will say, though, that Braid has two advantages over Portal: each of the five worlds (and I think there may be a sixth I haven’t found yet) is profoundly unlike all the others, each as inventive in itself as Portal’s one mechanic. Portal’s length isn’t a reason for me to rank it below bigger but messier games like Deus Ex, but its scope is.
And Braid is genuinely tough. Fast and intuitive puzzling is great for telling a story, as Portal does expertly, but I wanted more head-scratching from its Advanced maps. They weren’t actually any harder than the later levels of the main game, and there’s no good reason they shouldn’t be.
Update: Just finished it.