I had heard great things about the independent video game Braid, so when it came out for OSX recently, I decided to give it a try. I haven't been diligent in keeping a Windows gaming rig up and running.
My impression? Wow. Absolutely amazing. The concept of the game is simple. Take a basic platform game (like Mario Brothers) and add a new gameplay twist - time manipulation. At any point you can stop and rewind through a level, and play with many time-alterting interactions affecting causality and generating wonderful paradoxes to solve basic puzzles. Mind twisting to say the least, it makes Portal look like a cheap toy. As a multimedia designer, this has truly inspired me.
Paired with this innovative play mechanism are the most artistic and unique graphics I have ever seen in a game. By avoiding the modern pitfall of 3D rendering, the developer has created an amazing sense of depth, and colors, the whole experience feels like being within an impressionist painting. The image above is an actual gameplay screenshot.
Not only are the graphics (and music) inspiring, fluid, and exceptionally executed, the game naarative is absolutely unique. Describing man's thirst for knowledge, individual love, personal growth, and the nature of memory, the non-linear story perfectly compliments the non-linear game play as both wrap around on themselves, intertwining like a braid. With struggles of love won and lost, this is truly an adult game, not because of any sort of improprieties, but because the story inherently draws on the player's own experiences and understandings.
I haven't thought this much about a game since Myst. Whereas Myst was an incredibly complex puzzle to tell a simple narrative, Braid is simple gameplay with deviously complex ramifications and story. This game truly is a piece of interactive art as every aspect of how it plays, how it looks, how it functions, the naarative, all twist upon themselves, never starting and never ending. Screenshots and videos don't do it justice as it can truly only be understood by experiencing it. The demo is free, and the game is only $15. I challenge you to play through the end and read the hidden books.