"Braid: More Fun Than Calculus!"

Some of us here at Kotaku Tower are a little divided on Braid: I had a discussion with another editor who declared that the story ruined it for him, since it "reads like a prepubecent boy wrote it." Ouch! As I referenced in a recent essay, I enjoyed Braid a lot, though I felt the story was trying a little hard in spots (which I suspect is why the aforementioned critic wasn't a fan). But despite my sometimes strident opinions on Jonathan Blow, the game's creator, and my apparent propensity for managing to irk the man with practically every post I make about Braid, I liked the setup of the game and was always looking forward to discovering what new mechanics a level would bring.

Chris Dahlen has a different take on the Braid game mechanics: maybe they make you think too hard? Kinda like calculus:

I started fumbling my way through instead of actually understanding the exact solution and executing it flawlessly. I beat the boss at the end of the branching-paths level but I'm still not sure how I did it. This again reminds me of taking a maths exam and writing down some random number because I kind of figured that was the answer, but couldn't crisply explain it. There are plenty of games that you can win just by randomly mashing buttons - say, any number of fighting games - and everyone's played an adventure game where you combine the plunger with the rubber ducky and the shoelace and somehow manage to fish the key out of the grate, but the only reason you threw all that crap together is that it was the only stuff left in your inventory.

That said, Braid has little tolerance for half-assedry.

I personally didn't find it maddening, since there's no penalty for screwing up and it's pretty easy to hop back and forth between levels if you find yourself hideously stuck (sometimes it's better to just come back later). The experimentation was what made the game fun for me; if I couldn't 'crisply' explain how I did something, did it really matter? I've come through more than one boss battle or game level on little more than luck and just managing to survive; since Braid doesn't have a death penalty, 'managing to survive' isn't a concern, and that luck can lead to happy accidents that will allow you to understand exactly how to manipulate the controls.

Braid: More Fun Than Calculus! [Save the Robot]


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