Braid as a whole is incredibly self-indulgent.

User Rating: 3 | Braid PC
Braid is a 2D puzzle / platformer that revolves around solving puzzles by using a rather clever implementation of time control. Each of the six worlds has its own set of unique rules that the player has to follow and use in order to solve the puzzles. Let's get the good things out of the way so we can get to the juicy part. Braid looks wonderful, sounds wonderful and some of the design is truly inspired.

Alright, that's enough about that.

Early on I noticed that I can ignore most of the puzzles if I chose to do so. I found that rather convenient because not being able to solve the puzzle didn't stand in my way to progress through the game. And I could always return and try to solve the puzzle again. This holds true for the most part, but near the end I found out that I can't finish the game unless I solve ALL the puzzles. I didn't appreciate the surprise. So I went back to try to solve the ones I couldn't figure out the first time around. This is where everything fell apart. The game is wildly inconsistent and often crosses the line between engaging and frustrating. The puzzles are mostly abstract due to the rules of the world, but sometimes they are illogical even within the confines of the world. Basically the entirety of World 4 relies on nothing but a seemingly never ending string of frustrating--and worst of all, boring--trial and error. It simply doesn't grasp the fact that it's too clever for its own good.

The story starts off as intriguing, but this changes once you realize the enormous disconnect between gameplay and storytelling. On a more personal note, Braid handles storytelling in a completely opposite way from what I would like to see in games. There is absolutely no context behind anything the player does in the game - apart from the very end, I suppose. The gameplay and storytelling are two entirely disparate parts of the game brought together almost by force. Even ignoring this, the story is deliberately vague and obscure. To call it pretentious would be a compliment.

Braid as a whole is incredibly self-indulgent. While authors of creative works are certainly entitled to that, they also have a certain responsibility towards the audience if the work is designed as a commercial product. Being self-indulgent and pretentious can sometimes actually enrich the experience, but that ability is reserved only for the best creative minds. Jonathan Blow is not one of them.