A Braid Without Split Ends

Just as the name suggests, Braid is a labyrinth of twists and turns that are held together by the protagonist, Tim. Similar to Laura and Laurens’ experiences, I was also reminded of other role-playing games. Specifically in accordance with Zelda, the player has to explore a landscape dotted with puzzles, questing, and of course, a monster. I would definitely argue that Braid is a reflection of a Green World, as the game centers on Tim’s quest to save the princess. The interruptions caused by these obstacles become a theme in video games as they increase a propensity for vigilance and further, invoke new perspectives. I do not want to upset Sam’s earlier blogged distaste for these, but I do believe that Braid is another example of love story. The relationship between Tim and the princess is the motivation and, thus, the point of Tim’s quest. This similarity between Braid and other games made me see the popularity in these role-playing tropes. They provide an escape from a reality, a utopia that has continuity over the time and space of moral dimensions. I equated this game a lot with the interactive/electronic fiction we have read/played in class, as Braid’s premise reflects a readerly idealism. While Tim has a sense of agency, the meaning of his actions are manufactured by the game’s designer. I would agree with Lauren’s point that Braid is trying to tell a story. Like an ergodic text, Tim is a character in search of an author. Yes, the game designers created this “world,” however, the player is in charge of how it is executed. The player is allowed to discover and explore the game’s boundaries through the chaos of puzzles, colors, shadows, etc. The designer cannot select the moral decisions for us, as it would only presume a familiarity. The game’s authorship becomes a product of the player’s decisions.

Prior to playing the game, I read Braid’s Wikipedia article to find that Jonathan Blow was criticized for his minimal text in the game. I found that interesting as it reminded me of our class discussion on story vs. plot. Braid is not a novel. Braid is game. It is a database, not a narrative. Therefore, the minimal text seems accurate as it reinforces that a game is a story and does not have a lined sequence of events. I think Blow did a phenomenal job at conflating text with action.

I have to also applaud Blow’s conceptualizing of the six different worlds and his ability to link the fragmentation of the worlds into the unity of the game’s story. This dedication to the preserving or surpassing of time was an evocative foundation. At times, I was reminded of Dante’s Inferno with the various rings and rounds that Tim had to associate with (as well as the heavy themes of hesitance, mystery, decision, etc.). I’m sure this is a leap, but isn’t it ironic that the protagonist’s name is one letter away from spelling out time? Just as we discussed earlier in the semester also, a name is truly a living host of its own.