Review: Braid

Prior to its release on Xbox Live Arcade, Braid garnered significant attention for its distinctive gameplay mechanics, stunning watercolor visuals, and contentious pricing.
Jonathan Blow, an independent game developer, is the mastermind behind Braid. The game won the prestigious “Innovation in Game Design” award at the 2006 Independent Games Festival. Since its release, Braid has received widespread acclaim from players who have experienced the challenging platforming puzzles.
The review team at Destructoid has thoroughly tested Braid, and we, Reverend Anthony and Chad Concelmo, are ready to share our official assessment. Does Braid deserve endless adoration and admiration, or is there a sinister undertone beneath its beautiful visuals? Keep reading to discover our verdict.

Braid (Xbox Live Arcade)

Developed by Number None, Inc.

Published by XBLA
Released on August 6, 2008


Jim Sterling:

The game Braid follows the journey of a well-dressed protagonist named Tim as he travels through various worlds that are impacted by time in peculiar and distinct ways. His ultimate goal is to rescue his Princess from a monstrous captor. While the premise may seem basic and familiar, the game’s focus is not on the story but rather on the gameplay itself.
Playing Braid solely for the purpose of finishing it is not the intended approach, as it will result in an overly simplistic experience. The ultimate objective of Braid is to gather a diverse collection of jigsaw puzzle pieces that are dispersed throughout the game’s six worlds, in order to “solve” each world. Once all nine pieces in a world have been acquired, assembling them will result in the world being solved, and you will be rewarded with an Achievement for your accomplishment.

Acquiring all the puzzle pieces in Braid is a formidable feat, as the game’s intricate puzzles pose a significant challenge. The game revolves around manipulating time, which behaves differently in each world. The ability to reverse time is the key mechanic, allowing players to retry jumps or evade enemies. However, as the puzzles become more complex, relying on this mechanic to solve them proves to be far from easy. Braid’s devilish puzzles truly test players’ problem-solving skills.
As you progress through the game, you will come across peculiar environments and objects that behave in unusual ways in response to your actions. For instance, objects that are green and sparkling cannot be affected by time reversal. In one of the early puzzles, you will encounter a sparkling key that is being held by an enemy at the bottom of a deep pit. To retrieve the key, you will need to jump into the pit, defeat the enemy, and take hold of the key. However, since the pit is too deep to jump back out of, you can simply reverse time to undo all your actions and return to the top of the screen. Fortunately, the key is immune to time reversal and will remain with you instead of returning to the enemy. With the key in your possession, you can easily exit the pit.

As you delve deeper into the game, you’ll discover that things aren’t as straightforward as they initially seem. You’ll come across worlds that operate on a time-based system, where time only progresses when you move forward. If you turn around and head in the opposite direction, time will rewind. Additionally, you’ll encounter worlds where you can create a duplicate of yourself from the past who will repeat all the actions you took before you reversed time.
The puzzles showcased in Braid are not only imaginative and innovative, but also possess a rationality that ensures they can all be solved with dedication and clear thinking. At times, the logic may be so understated that it appears non-existent, and you may need to take a break from the game to avoid becoming frustrated. However, upon returning to Braid’s world with a refreshed perspective, you will likely discover solutions that were previously elusive, leading to a sense of accomplishment with each puzzle conquered. Braid frequently employs this approach, leaving players feeling victorious with every challenge overcome.

Braid’s aesthetic elements are truly unique and set it apart from other console games. The characters, including Tim and his enemies, possess a distinct style and charm that is not commonly seen in other games. The artistic quality of the game is evident in the simplistic yet effective character animation, which is complemented by the subtle animation of the world itself. The shifting colors give the impression of a living painting. While the sound effects are minimalistic, the music is a delight to listen to. The soundtrack is understated but features charming tunes that add to the overall experience of the game.
It’s challenging to find faults in Braid since any frustration experienced while playing is due to personal limitations in solving the puzzles presented by Blow. However, the game’s price of 1200 MS points may not be justifiable for a short game with limited replay value. Additionally, the jumping mechanics can be difficult to control, leading to misjudgments in safe landings on enemy heads. Despite these minor criticisms, Braid remains an exceptional game.
Braid is a unique game on Xbox Live Arcade, with no other title coming close to its level of excellence. Jonathan Blow has created a stunning and intelligent experience that puts other XBLA games to shame. Its unparalleled visuals and gameplay make it stand out from the rest. If you appreciate puzzles or believe that video games can be considered art, then Braid is a must-have for your Xbox 360. There is no doubt about it.

Score: 9.0 (Fantastic. Negligible flaws. Otherwise very, very good; a fine example of excellence in the genre.)

Chad Concelmo:


To be frank, I can only express my sentiment with one word – “Wow” – after experiencing Braid. I am apprehensive about elaborating further as it may spoil the game’s essence, which heavily relies on the element of surprise.
In an effort to provide a more comprehensive review, I will do my utmost to articulate the elements that make Braid an awe-inspiring game. However, I sincerely hope that my words do not reveal any spoilers. If they do, I am willing to accept any physical retribution.
To begin with, Braid is a game that fulfills all my visual expectations. As a huge fan of retro games, I was thrilled when I first saw the stunning visuals of this 2D puzzle platformer. The animation is impressive, and the hand-painted, high-definition graphics are simply gorgeous. It’s the perfect combination of old-school charm and modern technology, and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

The game’s stunning visuals are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to its beauty. What truly amazed me about Braid was its ability to gradually unveil a world filled with emotional depth, all while leaving the player to decipher the meaning behind it all. It may sound perplexing, but it’s an experience that must be lived to be fully comprehended. Allow me to elaborate.
Braid begins without any introductory cutscene or exposition. Players are immediately immersed in the game’s world with a basic understanding of the situation. The game’s exceptional time manipulation mechanics are introduced seamlessly within the gameplay, rather than through a separate tutorial.
The design of the levels in Braid is exceptional. Initially, each level presents a daunting challenge that appears almost insurmountable. However, as you progress through the levels, the solutions to the challenges become apparent to you naturally. By adhering to the rules of the game’s world, everything falls into place in your mind. Overcoming a complex challenge in Braid can be astonishing, but it is undoubtedly one of the most gratifying experiences you can have in a video game.

The game’s level design allows for flexibility in the order in which they can be completed. While it is possible to bypass the puzzles and simply run through each level, this approach will not grant access to the game’s final and most impressive section. More details on this section will be provided shortly.
Braid’s dream-like atmosphere is enhanced by its non-linear 2D gameplay, which offers a refreshing experience. As you progress through the levels, solving puzzles and exploring the world, its many ethereal mysteries begin to unravel. Each creature, item, and detail in the background feels like a piece of a larger puzzle, contributing to the game’s overall coherence. Everything in Braid’s world serves a purpose, making it a truly immersive experience.
The culmination of all these factors ultimately results in what could be considered one of the most exceptional endings in video game history. I would never dream of ruining the expertly crafted conclusion for you, but it would be remiss to discuss Braid without acknowledging its significance.

To be honest, the first time I completed Braid, I was left feeling a bit bewildered. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but I mention this so you’re prepared for the potential confusion you may experience. However, this feeling doesn’t last long. In fact, “confusion” may not be the right word to describe it. After finishing the game, my mind entered a peculiar state. I’ve been moved by video games before (many times, actually), but never like this. Braid left me with a mix of emotions – sadness, confusion, satisfaction, joy, and fear all at once. Interestingly, everyone I’ve spoken to who has also completed the game had similar reactions.
I find it difficult to comprehend the numerous individuals who are criticizing the game for lacking replay value. Personally, upon completing Braid and allowing its impactful conclusion to fully resonate with me, I immediately embarked on another playthrough. And then another. Although I was already familiar with the majority of the puzzles, the essence of playing Braid is not solely focused on reaching a specific destination. Rather, it is the journey itself that holds significance, and one that becomes increasingly enriching and significant with each subsequent experience.

I highly endorse Braid and urge everyone to play it. Personally, I am eager for more people to experience it so that I can engage in meaningful conversations about its impact. The game is so profound that it will leave a lasting impression on you, and you will find yourself wanting to delve into its significance for hours on end.
As I prepared to write this review, I anticipated it would be the most challenging one yet. The game’s events had elicited such a strong emotional response from me that I feared my feelings would cloud my judgment. However, upon reflection, I came to the realization that this review would actually be quite straightforward.

Braid is a masterpiece — a true work of art. Simple as that.

I guess “wow” is the best way to describe it.

Score: 10 (Incredible. As close to perfection as we’ve yet seen in in the genre or gaming on the whole. A polished, unparalleled experience.)

Reverend Anthony:

All possible statements have already been made by Jim, Chad, my previous review, or the eight compelling reasons to make a purchase.
I strongly recommend that everyone give Braid a try, regardless of who you are. However, it’s important to have the right expectations for the game. It’s a platformer with time-manipulation puzzles, not the other way around. Think of it like how Portal was a physics puzzler disguised as an FPS. Despite this, Braid has something for everyone. The game features a deep and metaphorical story that you can choose to pay attention to or not. Additionally, the puzzles are some of the most clever and mind-bending ever designed. I found myself shouting “that’s brilliant!” at the screen during my first playthrough due to the game’s ability to introduce new and unique aspects of time manipulation with each puzzle.
Don’t fret about the game’s length, as it is devoid of any unnecessary content and offers a minimum of four hours of uninterrupted, consistently impressive gameplay. Additionally, if you’re concerned about its replayability, take into account the nonlinear and profound nature of the storyline. Upon completing your initial playthrough, you may feel compelled to embark on another journey to uncover additional narrative hints and construct your own understanding of the themes and plot.

Braid, the pioneering art game and one of the most innovative puzzle games ever created, is a must-have for any gamer. Its value far exceeds its price of fifteen dollars, or even fifty dollars. With its abundance of fresh, intelligent, and contemplative content, it would be a mistake to overlook it for the sake of a few extra MS Points.

Score: 10 (Incredible. As close to perfection as we’ve yet seen in in the genre or gaming on the whole. A polished, unparalleled experience.)

Overall Score: 9.7