Then there was the phase of bafflement and anger.
Finally, I got to the phase of careful reflection.
I finally got around to playing Braid, a game that has been talked about a lot. Here is Jay is games:
one of the truly astonishing aspects of this game is the deeply involving story, which sweetly lures you in at the beginning, and blows your mind as you travel onward.Here is Emily Short:
It’s of course a masterpiece in the game-play area, and doesn’t need me to say so.
Here is Eurogamer:
Braid is beautiful, entertaining and inspiring. It stretches both intellect and emotion, and these elements dovetail beautifully rather than chaffing against each other. Still wondering if games can be art? Here's your answer.Well! That sounds great. But I have now played through World 2, World 3 and a couple of levels of World 4, and I have not enjoyed myself at all. I have not seen a deeply involving story. I have not encountered anything that could be called a "masterpiece in the game-play area". I have not seen beauty, have not been entertained, and have not been inspired. Is there something wrong with me, or should I just persevere and get to the parts where it all suddenly becomes good?
My gripes with the game are the following. First: it is a platform game. Oh, the reviewers claim it is a puzzle game, but you'll be spending 5% of your time solving the puzzles and formulating plans, and then 95% of the time trying to execute them. It's all about jumping at exactly the right moment, pressing the arrow for exactly long enough, and so on. This is not masterful game-play, this is boring game-play. It is very literally rewind-and-try-again-until-you-get-it-right gameplay. The puzzles are good, and I would love to enjoy them; but why on earth did they have to be embedded in Mario? It kills all the enthusiasm that the puzzles might give me.
(Everybody hates jumping challenges, right? I remember that when Half-life cam out, the reviews were unanimously positive -- except that everyone hated the jumping challenges at the end. Little skill, lots of repetition: whose idea of fun is this? And in Braid you don't even die, which means that there isn't even the feeling of tension that could perhaps give enjoyment.)
Second: there is supposed to be a "deeply involving story". But I have spent a couple of hours with Braid, and I have not seen any story except for the "stories" told in text at the beginning of each world. To say that these are poorly written is to be very merciful. This is the introduction for world 3:
"For a long time, he thought they had been cultivating the perfect relationship. He had been fiercely protective, reversing all his mistakes so they would not touch her. Likewise, keeping a tight rein on her own mistakes, she always pleased him."Just pick a random sentence from this piece of text and send it to Adam Cadre. You will have a fair chance of winning. What could it possible mean to be "fully couched", and that "within the comfort of a friend"? What prose could be more bloodless than one which contains phrases like "a mode of existence with severe implications"? And if these lines contain any insight into the human condition, I fail to see it.
"But to be fully couched within the comfort of a friend is a mode of existence with severe implications. To please you perfectly, she must understand you perfectly. Thus you cannot defy her expectations or escape her reach. Her benevolence has circumscribed you, and your life's achievements will not reach beyond the map she has drawn."
"Tim needed to be non-manipulable. He needed a hope of transcendence. He needed, sometimes, to be immune to the Princess's caring touch."
"Off in the distance, Tim saw a castle where the flags flutter even when the wind has expired, and the bread in the kitchen is always warm. A little bit of magic."
Avaunt, princess! For I am immune to your caring touch.
Later on, we get such jewels as: "Tim only felt relieved after the whole visit was over, sitting back home in the present, steeped in contrast he saw how he'd improved so much from those old days." Which is not only plainly ungrammatical, but also contains the phrase "steeped in contrast". Steeped in contrast.
Let's ignore the quality of the prose, and look only at the contents. These are slim, and what I've seen definitely doesn't add up to anything resembling a story, let alone a "deeply involving story" that "sweetly lures [me] in at the beginning". It's more like random quotes taken out of cheap self-help books.
So, uh... am I missing something here? Given the reviews, I feel it just cannot be the case that my treatment of the game is fair; and yet, it seems to be fair based on what I have seen. So I'm confused. Is the good stuff going to come later? Should I continue playing Braid? What on Earth is going on?
By the way, I did like the bunnies. So cute and evil.