“The Princess is in another castle.” – Toad
Game Name – Braid
ESRB Rating – E10+
Suggested Age – 10 and up
Genre – Puzzle Platformer
Educational Values – Physics, Decision making, Visual Discrimination, Problem Solving
Applicable School Subjects:
Price – $10 USD
Platform – PC, Xbox, Mac, PS3
Where to buy – Steam, Xbox Live Market Place, Amazon
Would we buy it? – Braid is a fun, innovative game. And we played through it several times.
About the Genre
Just like last week’s selection Portal, Braid is a Puzzle game. And just as we said last week, Puzzle Games is a very broad category. There is a huge difference in game play between Portal and Braid. But, at their core, they are both about solving a logical puzzle. They both require critical thinking on a conceptual level. The Platform aspect means you will have to jump from platform to platform to overcome or circumvent obstacles.
About the Game
In the game, you play the protagonist, Tom, who is trying to find the Princess. You progress through six worlds, each made up of several levels and each exploring a different variation of the “Stop/Reverse” time mechanic. Each level has puzzle pieces hidden throughout. Putting the pieces together is its own mini-game that you can play in between worlds, and the goal is collect all of the pieces and complete the pictures to unlock the final level where you can finally rescue the princess.
Braid is a visually arresting game. The graphics are unlike the majority of games on the market and it is pretty enough to just watch the backgrounds while you back up time. While it has gorgeous painted graphics and a stellar sound track, Braid is very light on storyline. In fact, one can beat the whole game without reading the story at all and still enjoy every minute of it.
The game play mechanics are innovative, the graphics are beautiful, and the controls are tight and responsive. Braid is a wonderfully made game that brings back vivid memories of playing my Super Nintendo in the early 90s. It even has an homage to the old Mario games where you get to the end of a level and are told that “The Princess is in another castle.”
Braid is reminiscent of classic platform games like Super Mario Bros. You travel in the world from left to right jumping from platform to platform and climbing obstacles. There are even similar enemies that you kill by jumping on their head. What makes the game unique is the ability to stop time and back if up if you make a mistake. If you miss a jump you can just back up time and try it again. There are also additional mechanics, like rings that will slow down time, or some objects that are immune to your time bending, that make the game more interesting over time.
What the Game Teaches Us
Many of the solutions to the Braid puzzles require out-of-the-box thinking. Several times the solution is neither simple nor obvious. The user must manipulate the mechanics of the game to get a puzzle piece, but that might require a combination of rewinding time and planning the use of tools and keys on the level.
While not directly related to a school subject, Braid requires higher-order thinking in order to be successful. Many educational standards include Bloom’s Taxonomy. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a model, Braid requires analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The player must not only figure out what to do to acquire a puzzle piece but how to accomplish that plan. That is an important learning (and life) skill, as students need to develop strategies where they create and then actualize a plan. Often, these skills are taken for granted and not much practice is given to developing these skills. Developing the ability to plan, execute and finally, evaluate a plan is a learning lesson that all people, especially our students need.
General Feelings on the Game
Since it is similar to old school platforming games, most players have a basic understanding of the movement and controls. However, some of the more advanced mechanics of the game can be difficult to learn.
E10+ is a perfect age for this game. Younger players might find some of the comic-like violence a little much. And the game play would likely be a bit over their heads.
Braid is an engaging game, and has huge re-playability. The puzzles are so complex that starting a new game and playing it again a year later may make you re-solve them all over again..
If you are looking for a stunning game that teaches logic, reasoning, and critical thinking, you have found it. Braid is fun, interesting, complex, and well-designed. And for $10 it’s a steal.