uality makes Braid a welcome addition to the small assortment of puzzle games available on Xbox Live Arcade. The basic premise behind Braid is simple: you solve various puzzles to earn puzzle pieces, then assemble a puzzle. Add some time-manipulation tricks to aid in solving the puzzles and you have one interesting game.
The sheer difficulty of solving some of the puzzles that you encounter makes Braid very rewarding. Puzzles are the core of this game; it is possible to fly through the game, but that can only be done if you ignore all of the puzzles. The biggest joy in this game is finding the various solutions for how to get each puzzle piece, whether it's manipulating the environment or thinking ahead to what your time manipulations will do. There is always an immense sense of satisfaction when you find a solution.
The game's story primarily focuses on rescuing a princess. Given some of the things that you find in game — Goomba-like enemies and a character who tells you that the princess is in another castle — the entire experience does feel somewhat similar to the early Super Mario Bros. games. Such comparisions are rather crude, and quickly overturned by clever and challenging puzzles.
Graphically the game is absolutely stunning. Many of the backgrounds have a style similar to a Van Gogh painting. Everything flows together beautifully and really is a sight to behold. The only issue that can be found with the graphics is that the player character and enemies are small compared to everything else, likely a problem for people who have a large TV screen. The music for this game is also a wonder. Many of the stages have a light, classical sound to them, violins playing — some themes come across as mournful, others more engaging. In all, the music in the game is perfectly suited and perhaps the best type of music for this genre of game.
The game's difficult. Some solutions are rather obscure, which is going to be frustrating for anyone. Also, there is not enough variety in the obstacles you encounter. Still, in spite of repetitive obstructions and enemies, each puzzle is done so masterfully that Braid doesn't feel very repetitive. The last issue is that once you're done there isn't much replay to be had. All that you have access to are the insanely difficult speed trials. Otherwise there's not much point in going back through the game.
In spite of the lack of replay value, Braid is an extremely rewarding game experience that only comes around every few years. It's well worth checking out.