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Joystiq impressions: Braid

Kyle Orland

While E3's Kentia Hall may be long gone, the small Independent Game Summit area of the Barker Hangar made sure the little guy wasn't completely ignored. One of the most interesting games from the summit this year was an unassuming little 2D platform-puzzler featuring a guy in a business suit.

One of the core ideas behind Braid, according to creator Jonathan Blow, is that the players time is more precious than his life. Indeed, any time your portly, suit-clad avatar dies, you can simply rewind the action a la Prince of Persia to go back to a safer portion of the level. Unlike PoP, though, there's no limit to the length or availability of your rewinds in Braid, meaning the only thing you lose if you make a mistake is a little bit of time spent rewinding.

Gallery: Braid | 15 Photos

Since there's no real risk of death, the focus of Braid is on solving puzzles more than reflex-based action. Playing with time is the key to solving most of the brain benders, with each world putting its own unique spin on the flow of time and space. In one world, for instance, some enemies and items are immune to the time-shifting abilities, meaning you can pick up a key from the bottom of a pit and then carry it with you as you rewind back to the cliff above. Other worlds let you create clones that copy your last few moves; slow down time in a small bubble and even control time just by moving left and right.

While the gameplay is interesting, the beautiful 2D art direction really helps Braid stand out from other 2D platformers. The beautiful vistas by David Hellman give the whole game a dreamy, pastoral feeling that's wholly refreshing. The sight of a protagonist in a business suit in such an environment is particularly jarring.

While the nearly-complete demo being shown at E3 was being played with an Xbox 360 controller, Blow said the release platform for the game still wasn't clear. He has been in talks with Microsoft about making it an Xbox Live Arcade title, but without a signed contract, he's loathe to say anymore. Here's hoping the game sees as a wide a release as possible as soon as possible.

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