Remembering 2008: The Biggest Games That Turn 10 This Year
Created by GameSpot Staff on
Braid (August 6, 2008)
Jonathan Blow busted onto the scene as a prominent independent game developer when Braid released in 2008, and for good reason. It was one of the early hits that thrusted indie games into the mainstream via Xbox Live Arcade, but Braid turned out to be much more than that for those who connected with the game's themes and gameplay. Braid plays like a 2D side-scrolling platformer but mixes in the ability to reverse time that affects objects and enemies in clever ways. In your effort to piece together protagonist Tim's past and search for a mysterious princess, you rack your brain to solve the numerous puzzles and execute perfectly timed jumps onto platforms and atop enemies. If you happen to fall to your death, just reverse time and try again in a matter of seconds.
As you progress through Braid, the layers of lessons learned along the way stack, and you're constantly challenged to use what you know in new ways. Keys tucked away in hard-to-reach ledges unlock doors to make it through levels, but the collectable puzzle pieces paint the picture of a man who lost control of his personal and professional life. The sparse, yet affecting story is arguably one of Braid's strongest aspects.
Storytelling in independent games was still in a sort of infancy in 2008, but Braid set an example for how smaller games can tell bigger stories. The overarching plot is open to interpretations, even with the extensive post-game texts, but in its final moments, Braid subverts expectations to leave a lasting impact. What starts out lighthearted becomes increasingly foreboding as to earn the final twist and completely flip your interpretation of who you thought Tim and the princess were. A beautiful soundtrack that borrows elements of traditional Celtic folk music to drive home the heartfelt journey further supports Braid's tale. -- Michael Higham