After playing braid a few times, I can see a clear narrative at the same time that immerses me into interacting with the quest of the main character. Because this is one my first experiences with video games, I know I was slower to figure out what kind of things I should try in order to move forward with the game. I am sure more experienced players can instinctively see clues that I missed over and over, e.g. if I press shift longer I can make things go back in time. For a while I only pressed shift to bring Tim back from the hole.
The game is designed to involve the players in several goals at once. On the one hand we want to help Tim get to the Princess, we want to reach to the next level, and we want to collect the pieces of the paintings and put them together. On the other hand, we have to pay attention to how the story evolves and what we are contributing to.
I also noticed that while the game goes around a story that seems simple, the characters are complex. From the first moment we become acquainted with Tim’s dilemma, we can see he is not simply a good guy, a perfect hero that will always be right. I was skeptical from the beginning of his motivations and the real appreciation he had for the princess and their relationship. I, however, could not say why I was being skeptical and that duality carried through my involvement in his quest.
One characteristic of the game is that has several layers and therefore more than one issue to solve but not all of them necessarily have to be finished in order to move to another world. For example, I found that even if I didn’t collect the piece of painting, or got the key and opened the locked box, I still could pass to the next level or world. This reminded me the database versus narrative discourse where the story is not told in a sequence, but the player can take some now and then come back to it later, and kind of create a different experience each time. However my brain is too well programed to do things in sequences so even when I could jump to another world I felt that I had to go back and finish before moving on or else I would be cheating.
Speaking of cheating, I looked for clues online about how to get out of the pit in world 3 because I still had not discovered how to move back on time. After this first clue I felt more confident to experiment possibilities on my own and wished I was more experience player to beat this thing. Whenever I was able to figure out something on my own I felt like a winner and inventive. My biggest frustration with it was my inability to think and move quickly to not get killed. While I can’t compare this game to another because I never played before, I understand now what is that engage people to stay playing for hours.
I agree with my classmates about certain themes throughout the game such as manipulation, returning back in time, redoing things so that they work better for you, correcting mistakes. I think these are engaging elements because they deal with creating a new reality. In this game we are capable of overcoming things that are irremediable in the real world. In other games I understand that when you get killed you must start over again, but here you just hit a button and you can go back to the moment when you failed. In the real world we find ourselves saying many times: “if only I knew then what I know now,” well here once you learn what you were supposed to learn from your failure you can go back and do it again. If only were like that in real life.
I have not finished the game. I am still fighting the pink bunnies and the shooting cannons, but what I still can’t figure out is the issue of collecting pieces. For once, at some point I could get the key to open the box and got to the box alive but then still couldn’t open the box to get the piece of painting. In some occasions, I moved to the next level without collecting the pieces because they seem to be related to different obstacles, or they were placed in areas that Tim had not access to. This is an example of the game evolving in different layers at once. Even when I got the pieces to collect I wasn’t sure if I was putting them in the right way inside the canvas.
I associate the collectible pieces with the idea of a prize that surrounds the relationship between Tim and the Princess. I don’t know for sure how much really Tim has learned from his mistakes despite that the game is basically all about second chances and correcting mistakes. It appears that his quest is very much about earning and collecting prizes and getting things to work his way. But whether this idea is correct or not I will only know when I finish figuring out the entire game which I must say I am looking forward to it.