Videogame Virgin: Braid and all the mush between my ears

braid

(Editor’s note: In this bi-weekly feature, Pixelitis staffer Matt Brown shares his “down the rabbit hole” look into gaming history. Having admittedly missed what many consider “classics,” join him as he dives in head first. We ask that you just be gentle with him.)

You ever feel like your brain has been through the blender and if you tilt your head too far to the side, the synapse slushy might leak out? After Bayonetta a couple weeks ago and now Braid, that is exactly how I feel.

If you poured tequila in my ear and rubbed salt on my face, you’d get Hannibal Lecter’s favorite margarita.

For those of you playing the home game, Braid is a puzzle platformer developed by independent game designer Jonathan Blow and released on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Now, I myself have a sort of short attention span, so I gravitate toward games that allow me to push a lot of buttons and stuff. Puzzle platformers aren’t really my style most of the time.

And…that may be the case this time.

Let me start with the positives. And just for the record, there are many. The game is really beautiful. The design of the sprites and stages is masterfully retro but the backgrounds look almost like vibrant watercolors, bright and gorgeous in their own right. Also the explanation of the premise is brief and to the point and creative and poignant. This is an incredibly intricate, detailed, well thought out title and I applaud Jonathan Blow on his achievements with this game.

All that being said, this game is objectively wonderful and subjectively so not my style. Even the most basic puzzles in the game can be mind numbingly complicated and frankly, a bit much for me.

This is hard to admit. But I’m going to try. I’m…too dumb for this game. I rage quit several times because in all honesty, this made me feel like a blind six year-old trying to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls by feel. I felt like Carrot Top trying to make people laugh. I felt like Rick Santorum trying to do just about anything.

Braid straight up humiliated me in the privacy of my own couch. I was blushing and everything. It was weird.

But again, I guess that’s just a testament to the game’s considerable merits. Merits that don’t necessarily sell it to me as a gamer but they do sell to me as a videogame writer type person. For a game to frustrate not because of its flaws or glitches, but because of expert execution, I think is all too rare these days. So again, I tip my hat to Jonathan Blow for Braid and for making me feel like an idiot. I very rarely thank someone for accomplishing that feat but I feel like I have to be fair in this case.

Here I find myself with little else to say on the matter. The game really isn’t my particular cup of tea and only my mild sado-masochist streak would inspire me to pick it up again. So this is where I’m trying to look forward to the next game on my list.

Braid, my old adversary, you’ve bested me. This time. Next time I will come prepared. With whiskey. Don’t underestimate me when I’ve had my whiskey. I’m not to be trifled with.

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Author: Matt Brown View all posts by