While Zach may have reviewed the original Xbox Live Arcade version of Braid way back when VFH Classic was still used, it's taken over a year for the title to finally reach the PlayStation Network (thanks to a port job from Hothead Games),so it's time for a fresh take on this well-received downloadable game.
The story of Braid is peculiar; there's an overbearing idea that there is a missing "Princess" who has been kidnapped by a "Monster," and you, Tim, must rescue her, but nothing concrete is ever really revealed. Instead what you're left with are allusions via books that precede each World's levels, which change in tone from a tale of lost love, to a story of a broken home... it's strange, unexpected, but it may make you think a bit if you choose to look into it. Otherwise you could easily play this without ever paying attention to the story.
At heart, Braid is a standard run-of-the-mill platformer; you have Worlds with sub-levels, enemies to stop on, and goals to reach. But what sets the game apart from anything else I've ever played is the ability to manipulate time. The game really only has 4 button commands, there's the d-pad or left analog stick to move, X to jump, Circle to activate doors and switches, and Square to manipulate time; eventually Triangle is used for another command, but... spoilers? Maybe?
The game is divided into five Worlds, 2-6; why start at 2? I assume it's because the overworld is 1, but I could be wrong. Each World has a series of doors, each it's own level, but the levels are all connected so that if you enter through the third door you can play back to 1, or go all the way to 6. The main goal of each level is to find puzzle pieces, which can then be arranged into a painting (you'll earn a bronze Trophy for just going through each World, and silver for completing each of the paintings). What gives the game some variety, other than changing architecture and design of each World is a new gameplay addition. While the first World may be standard platforming with some time-manipulation, the fourth will introduce harder puzzles that involve reversing time and interacting with a ghost version of yourself. It's a nice change of pace, and makes the game more fresh and especially more challenging as you progress along.
If graphics were designed by classic artists, then Braid would have been Vincent Van Gogh's creation. The artwork of the game has the look of classic impressionistic paintings, and while flat, still looks quite gorgeous in motion, especially when you're running it in HD. Everything from the start screen (which is actually part of the gameplay) to the actual levels and characters ooze of this classic style, and it's really something to behold. By far one of the most unique graphical choices I've seen in gaming.
But, all is not over, accompanying the peculiar gameplay and brilliantly rustic graphical style, is the haunting, moody, and oh so fitting orchestrated (I believe, it sounds like it for the most part) soundtrack to the game. It's not the upbeat chiptunes you expect to hear from a platformer, but the tone of the game set by the artwork and story isn't exactly your average platformer either, and I feel the music does a great job of keeping that all together.
Braid is a great game, and if you haven't already purchased this game for Xbox 360, PC, or Mac, and you have an internet connected PlayStation 3, then you should probably do yourself a favor and download this game. If there's any gripe I have about this game, it's the price. For a downloadable title that launched for 1200 Microsoft points (roughly $15) back in August of last year, there's kind of no reason for it to launch for the same price one year later on the PlayStation Store, especially when you consider that there's no added features and the game is somewhat short. But pricing aside, Braid is certainly something to experience if you haven't already.
Overall Score: 9/10