reviews\ Dec 8, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Braid - PS3 - Review

One of the biggest surprises of last year was a clever little Xbox LIVE Arcade title called Braid. The game took a compelling narrative, charming aesthetic, and great time-based puzzles to make for an experience that truly stood out against any other game, downloadable or otherwise. Since it has released, it has sparked countless debates on its meaning, with the storyline metaphorically eliciting everything from a failed relationship to the atomic bomb. While Xbox 360 owners have been eating this up for over a year now (and PC gamers for a little less than that), PS3 owners have been unfortunately left in the dust for the time being. That is, until now.

Courtesy of Hothead Games, Jonathan Blow's instant classic is now available for download on the PlayStation Network. The game has been left unchanged from the Xbox 360 version, meaning that if you played through that one then there isn't really much incentive to pick up this one. That being said, this is still a truly phenomenal gaming experience, and if this is your first time with Braid, be prepared for one of the most engaging and endearing stories you're likely to experience in a video game.

The game doesn't really provide you with much background or explanation, but that's a good thing and lends itself well to the narrative. You play as a young man named Tim as you work your way through various worlds collecting puzzle pieces. In order to collect each piece, you have to solve a different time manipulation-based puzzle. At the beginning of each world, there are books that will provide you with vague stories meant to provide you with another piece of the story, and the puzzle pieces that you collect in each world form a picture that also provides a clue to what is driving the plot.

Braid's gameplay blends time-shifting puzzles with platforming to a great effect. Each stage has a different time changing device, starting with you having the ability to simply rewind time, and getting gradually more complex as you play. Some challenges have you working in tandem with a ghost of your former actions, or using a small sphere that slows down a small area of the world and so on. Each puzzle element feels pretty different and requires you to use your brain in varied ways in order to solve them. After you've solved all of the puzzles in levels 2 through 6, you'll unlock the first level, which boasts an ending that will keep you thinking for weeks afterwards.

Writing about what makes Braid such a great game is a Herculean task to say the least, as you won't be able to really gauge the game through someone else's words; it's really something that you have to see in action for yourself. The game pays homage to the platforming genre while completely turning it on its head with challenging and unique puzzle mechanics. The experience stays fresh throughout and the narrative is one of the most well-written around.

Graphically, Braid is quite simple, offering up 2D sprites on static backgrounds, but the look is really quite impressive. The stages have a nice artistic look to them, and the characters are nicely animated and have a great sense of style.

The sound effects themselves are actually quite simple, but used to great effect. The game's score is superbly done, and rewinding time will result in the music and sound effects running backwards, which is a nice effect that helps keep the ambiance.

This PS3 port doesn't add in any new features and comes in well over a year after the game first debuted on the Xbox 360, but that doesn't make it any less of a recommendable experience. If this is your first chance to check out Braid, then give it a download; you won't be disappointed.

Gameplay: 9.0
One of the most original puzzle platformers in years, Braid is an engrossing experience from start to finish. While the game is pretty short, it's still not one to be missed.

Graphics: 8.5
The game's use of sprites is simple, but done to very good effect. The environments almost look like a painting, and do a great job of keeping with the game's overall themes.

Sound: 8.5
The game's score is very well done, adding to the game's atmosphere.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 9.0
An original and engaging storyline coupled with brilliant puzzle gameplay make this a great package.

Overall: 9.0
While it may be a year late to the party, the PS3 version of Braid is certainly worth a look from any Sony fan.


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