Braid will forever be a timeless classic
Strangely enough, there are no menus in Braid and no cut scenes. As soon as you boot the game up, you start in an old city with the title up above and you are immediately playing the game. No menus, no loading, no "press start", just run to the level select room and let your journey begin.
But don't think that Braid has a story to tell. Oh does it ever. A princess that Tim, the protagonist, is in love with gets captured by a monster because he "made a mistake".....what? You've heard that story a million times before? Well, not quite. This is what I was talking about earlier; the story is only one of the old platforming cliches that Braid manages to recreate and put its own creative spin on a cliche video game tale. So much that I would feel guilty spoiling any more of the story for you, like the true identity of the princess, for example. There are no cut scenes and hardly any dialogue spoken to tell this marvelous tale but each level gives you a few books to read through in order to progress.
The game plays like a classic sidescrolling platformer, complete with jumping on enemies and navigating through platforms to reach the goal on the other side of the level. Make no mistake though, Tim is no Mario or Sonic. He can't run that fast and his jump is kind of weak compared to many platforming stars before him. This forces Tim to be aware of his surroundings and improvise to get to the goal.
Not only that, but he must use the one major feature of the whole game; time. Any time in the game, even when you die, you can control the flow of time and rewind. This is useful for when you make a mistake and is needed for various puzzles. That's right, there are plenty of challenging puzzles for you to accomplish if you really want to beat a level (by collecting all the puzzle pieces scattered throughout the stage). While some of these puzzles can be simple, others are mind numbingly difficult, making it frustrating for some. Yeah, it's a thinking game so be prepared.
In spite of this, the game does a great job of mixing puzzles up in each stage, especially since each level has its own "gimmick" having to do with time (i.e., there's one stage where everything moves only when Tim moves and another stage where certain enemies or projectiles aren't affected by time at all) keeping the experience fresh with each new world. The platforming and puzzle part of the game plays well enough and gives you plenty of nostalgia on how old games used to play but the time gimmick gives the old formula a breath of fresh air, and its fun to mess with.
The solid gameplay is complimented by its gorgeous visuals and score. Thanks to the watercolor backgrounds, smooth animations and character designs, the visuals are a work of art and it looks fantastic. Accompanying the stunning backgrounds, we have one of the most soothing soundtracks you'll ever hear in a game. Violins, harps, a piano, and everything in between will play in the background emotionally provoking you to keep on going. It's soothing and it compliments the game's style well.
So the game has a wonderful thought-provoking story, solid gameplay, gorgeous visuals and a soothing soundtrack. It all meshes together very well.....while it lasts. The biggest problem is Braid has 6 worlds to play through, but it is over much too quick. It's hard to believe this game was $15 at one point (luckily its $10 now) because that would have seemed a little pricy for a game that is over within 3-4 hours and little replay value.
Braid is a game that manages to take all the classic cliches of a genre and successfully put its own spin on them, making them new again and creating a wonderful experience. While it is lacking in replay value, it is an adventure worth taking at least once as the game manages to stay fresh from the moment you start to the second you finish. Very few games these days can add such a unique twist on a beloved formula, making Braid a fresh new gem that should be experienced.