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Braid

It’s very rare that an XBox Live Arcade game gets reviewed here, but Braid is one of those games that deserves its accolades. Despite its hefty price tag of 1200 Microsoft Points, that’s $15 in real life, one thing is for certain… Braid is one of the most original, thought provoking, challenging and fun Xbox Live Arcade game ever made. This game will suck you in and force you to play it until you’ve solved every puzzle, forcing you to endure some very frustrating moment, but in the end it’s extremely rewarding.

Braid follows the story of Tim, a man who’s desperate to reunite with the love of his life, the Princess. The story is told through various books you read as you enter each world. You find out how Tim is eager to fix something that went wrong between himself and the Princess and he’ll go to any lengths in order to right the wrongs. The story can be engaging, yet you should definitely give each read another look over because of how in depth it is. The ending of the game is surprising as well and not something you’d expect.

Braid’s gameplay is relatively straightforward. It’s very reminiscent of the old Super Mario Bros. side scrollers, except here you’re dealing with some very challenging puzzles. It’s so reminiscent of Super Mario that at times you’ll think you’re playing an updated version of it. From the little creatures that roam the levels, reminding you of the mushrooms to the plants coming out of the tunnels. You’ll be thinking, are they really ripping off Super Mario that blatantly? Thankfully the answer is no. The similarities between the two end there.

Braid allows you to reverse time with the X button, allowing you to reverse death or a simple mistake, you can even rewind everything to the point where it helps you in solving a puzzle. The objective for each stage is to collect each puzzle piece and to complete a large puzzle. The puzzle pieces are spread through out each level and in many cases you have to use a combination of your reverse powers as well as some of the special powers granted only in certain worlds. The early worlds are straightforward, but the further along you go the more challenging the puzzles get. There will be many times where you’ll struggle to figure out how to get a puzzle, so sometimes it’s best to move on to another puzzle and return with a clear mind. Once all of the puzzles are completed you’ll be able to enter the last stage of the game, and perhaps the most surprising.

The graphics really stand out, with vibrant colors and an look that reminds me of a Vincent van Gogh painting. Each level looks as though it’s been hand painted and brought to life, the same can be said for the puzzles that you encounter. Tim and the various enemies all seem like they’ve been pulled out of something familiar yet each has its own unique look. Every time I saw a rabbit pounce on me I was reminded of the infamous scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The music throughout the game really stands out, and the best thing is that none of it’s original to the game. Creator Johnathan Blow licensed the various songs for each level from different artists, although it has to be said that there’s a definite Celtic feel to the music. You’ll find yourself looking up the soundtrack after the first time you’ve played, needing to hear the haunting songs outside of the game.

Even at its $15 price, Braid is worth every penny. The game has given a fresh coat of paint to old-school gameplay, giving it a breath of new life. I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant when I started reading about the game, but after playing the demo I was hooked. While the game can be considered short, it shouldn’t turn you off from purchasing it. Braid is a highly rewarding game and it shouldn’t be missed.

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