Braid is a lush, memorable title that will easily be remembered.
If you've ever played Super Mario World, you'll probably notice that the game looks a little similar because of the platforming and character. However, Braid is no title to be compared to Super Mario World or any other platforming title, for that matter because it does good for being this unique experience that will surely be remembered. Super Mario World is a great title and Braid is a great title - both are something you'll want to pick up and play again at some point. They may look a bit similar upon looking at some screenshots but when you get down and start playing Braid, you realise what an achievement it really is and how it stands out from the rest of the platforming titles out there.
Braid is no title to be rushed through. Take your time - it's worth it. The level designs are beautiful, lively and look great on a high-definition display. When you've finished gazing at the lush visuals, you'll need to make sure your ears are fully awake. That's because Braid has a somewhat independent, Celtic-inspired soundtrack from a small minority of composers (Jami Sieber, Shira Kammen). The tracks are minimalistic but build up in pace depending on what part of the level you are on. For example, a place which seems empty will keep the track at its normal pace but when you advance through, you may notice it changes to a more powerful track.
Also, the tempo of the music (and sound effects) changes when you rewind the gameplay. Yes, this is a feature that I really felt was needed in Braid. It's useful for a few reasons. The first is that if you collide with an enemy, obstacle, then you'll just drop off at an angle slightly. Your only option is to rewind to a safe point (you can rewind at different speeds). So, there's no need to restart the whole level again. Now, you may be thinking that this is taking away the challenge but it isn't. The challenge isn't necessarily getting past enemies - it's about getting through the level and collecting the puzzle pieces. In order to get all the puzzle pieces, you'll need to work out a way to get them. Building the puzzle will indeed be a puzzle!
Some puzzle pieces are simply to get and some you'll often see but cannot reach. So, you may find jumping on an enemy will get you to the puzzle piece (jumping on an enemy gets you a boost into the air) or you may find a key somewhere to unlock the door blocking the piece. However, just because you have the key doesn't make it that simple in getting it. You'll have to work with the rewind feature and use the new abilities you'll get later on to solve puzzles. There's also some 'green glow' that basically doesn't make you move back in time - this is something that will need to be worked with later on to solve the puzzles.
Now, what is Braid? Is it a platforming title? Yes. Is it a puzzle title? Certainly. So, combine these two elements and you have Braid. You can get to the end of the level without collecting the puzzle pieces, which should be fun for the more younger players but if you're like me and want to get a lot done, then you will want to collect all the puzzle pieces, which build a puzzle for the world you are in. At some point in the level, you can build the jigsaw puzzle. Solving it will get you an achievement. You can also build the puzzle outside of the level, in the lobby area - a castle.
The castle probably takes ideas from that Nintendo title - the one with a certain plump character and a princess. Along the way through Braid, you will notice a few references to other titles, which is always fun to put into a video game. The most obvious is probably Tim, the main character and the certain message you get after completing the world. If they can do it in motion pictures, they can do it in video games. Upon completing each world, you'll eventually be allowed to the very top of the castle. Here you'll be able to finally see what will happen with the princess.
I won't spoil the storyline but I do advise following through the text books after entering the world's doors. The story feels special and matches well with the themes of Braid. Once you finish Braid, be sure to try out the speed runs, if you're up to it. I can't really tell you how long Braid will take to complete, since it's a puzzle title. Some puzzles I got through like a piece of cake and some had me scratching my head for quite a while. If you just take your time (unless you're on a speed run) and just use some logic, you'll be sure to eventually work it out.
The achievements are fair too, which is always something good to have on your profile. There are leaderboards, although the main one pretty much becomes useless once you've collected all the puzzle pieces. However, it's useful to see how your friends are doing and maybe to see if anyone has beaten the speed run times. It currently costs more than you average Xbox LIVE Arcade title but you should not let this impact your decision to purchase it. It's still relatively cheap when you think about it. As I have said earlier in this review - this is no cheap port or game that feels like some quickly mashed up Flash title.
Braid achieves well in so many ways - the gameplay, the soundtrack, the story. There's a few parts that feel intermittent - such as getting the timing done right for jumping on a string of enemies and rewinding to the right place can be a bit tricky. It's enjoyable, it's challenging and once you've gone through it, you may want to play again but I felt like I was wanting more. It would have been great to maybe have had a few more levels placed in. I would like to see the possibility of new content for it but this could be unlikely, as the creator has mentioned, even at its more than usual price point, he'll be lucky to break-even on it.
So, that's it. Braid is a title that I would highly recommend. The trial game offers a good amount of gameplay and so I hope that will further aid you in purchasing the full version, if you haven't already. Now, I wonder how this game will do on other platforms, if it gets released. There's a PC game planned but Braid could do great on platforms such as the Nintendo DS and PSP for the on-the-go gaming experience.