It’s not that I’m untouched by the game’s mood, or by its themes of love, regret and the contradictory demands of human nature. It’s hard not to admire the way the game ties in these themes – particularly the desire to turn back the clock and change the past – with a game mechanic that allows you to do exactly that. It’s hugely exciting to see a game even attempting to deal with this stuff. All the same, I didn’t find Braid all that convincing or that moving. Maybe it’s the slightly florid and overwrought prose that puts me off, but for me Braid doesn’t handle its themes with the grace or impact of, say, Graham Green’s ‘The End of the Affair’, Dylan’s ‘Blood on the Tracks’ or Michel Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.’ All these works have moved me deeply at one point or another. As of yet, Braid hasn’t. Nor has it affected me as much as Ico did seven years ago or Bioshock did last year. And while I can appreciate how cleverly it plays with video game conventions not just to comment on video games but to comment on the human condition, I’m not sure I’ve found this as profound or earth-shattering as other critics seem to have done.
Still, the fact that we can even talk about such stuff in a video game review shows that Braid is on to something, and that all the hyperbole being spewed about isn’t entirely misplaced. Whether Braid has you crying or leaves you cold, it’s impossible to deny the satisfactions of its puzzles or the accomplishments of its design. You might love it or you might merely like it, but whatever your reaction it’s one of the must-play games of the year.
Whether or not it delivers on its considerable artistic ambitions, Braid is a fascinating and beautifully constructed platform/puzzle game. Don’t miss it.
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