It’s good to be back. It’s been a while (but not as long as my previous hiatus). I’m done with finals and I’m taking it easy for the next couple of weeks. In between the craziness, I’ve managed to play more than a couple of games. I’m working my way through my Steam catalog. If you listen to the show regularly, you know that I am backlogged on games that I bought as far back as the summer 2010 sale. I’m going to put together some articles doing short reviews of the games I’ve been playing over the last couple of months since The Binding of Isaac is no longer taking over my life. Some will be older games and some will be newer.

The first game up is a little title known as Braid. Actually, it isn’t a little title at all. Most people have probably heard of it by now, since it was initally released on XBox Live in 2008 and came to the PC a year later. Braid is an actiony, puzzly, platformery side scrolling game in which you play the role of Tim. The main plot involves Tim searching for a princess that has been abducted. While initially it’s not clear what the relationship between the two characters is, more is revealed along the way. Obviously I will not spoil things here for you, but there is a big twist if you are unable to unlock the game’s secret ending.

While Tim appears to be just an ordinary man, he has a rather extraordinary ability. He can control time. You can move backwards and forwards in time as you will. Death is no threat in Braid, since if you happen to get killed by an enemy you can merely rewind time and try again. This can have some unintended consequences, however. Once again, I don’t want to spoil things. You will just have to find out for yourself.

Graphically, the game has a very nice hand-painted art style. Even though it was released in 2008, it could easily compare to a lot of other indie titles released today. The time-altering mechanics of the game have some nice graphical effects too. Slowing things down causes a sort of shimmer in the world, while speeding things up causes the graphics to become overly-saturated. The faster you rewind and speed up, the greater the effect becomes. It isn’t a huge deal, but it is a nice little detail.

The sound effects and music are also done quite well. Braid’s soundtrack consists of some rather somber pieces of music that include keyboards and violins. The soundtrack really fits the game’s atmosphere and themes perfectly. The sound effects don’t quite make as much of an impression, but they suffice. I’d have to say that my favorite one is a nice “BOING” sound you get when you bounce off of an enemy’s head.

Braid was one of the earliest indie games that showed that smaller teams can make high-quality games with lasting appeal. If you haven’t played Braid, I strongly suggest picking it up. If there is one downside, I would say that Braid is not a very long game. You can get through it in just a matter of a few hours. However, you can get it on Steam for a mere $2.49 at the time of this writing. Even at the regular price of $9.99, it is worth getting. The puzzles get devilishly hard as the game progresses. Many of them will leave you scratching your head for quite some time. If you want a game to challenge your brain, you can’t go wrong here.

That will do it for this review. I’ll be back soon with some more on other games, including Deus Ex and Frozen Synapse.

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