Braid.

Due too lack of time and real life (no not the comic) commitments, this post will be a bit shorter and hopefully more concise than usual. Bear with me here.

Braid is the new hot ticket on XBLA. Developed by independent software developer Jonathan Blow and winner of the “Innovation in Game Design” award at the Independent Games Festival in 2006, Braid is somewhat of an oddity. It costs 400 Microsoft Point more than most XBLA games, its art-style and music is radically different than most arcade titles and yet it has an alluring appeal that will keep you coming back for more.

Braid clearly draws its inspiration from a number of classic games. It takes its platforming mechanics from Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros and its timeshifting mechanic from Prince of Persia and Blinx. Its story is classic videogame with the protagonist (simply named Tim) in search of a princess, which in true Mario style, is always “in a different castle”. Combine that with the aforementioned blending of diverse gameplay elements, the beautiful artstyle and the lovely soothing music and you get a game that is truly a wonderful experience.

It’s difficult to come up with any negative points. If I were to mention anything it would be that although the puzzle and timeshifting mechanic is cool, the levels (almost too) quickly become a lot more complex and consequently a lot more difficult. Make no mistake, you can traverse the entire gameworld in no time, but if you want to truly solve a level, you’ll have to invest some serious time and effort. This isn’t a pick up and play game. you have to use a combination of logic and puzzle-solving skill to succeed.

All in all I’d say every Xbox 360 owner should at least download and try the demo. I did, got instantly hooked and payed the 1200 points. If puzzles aren’t your thing, just be patient. Bionic Commando Rearmed is just around the corner.

Update: I thought I’d link to a couple of other reviews in case anyone wants more info.