Wonderful visuals, stunning audio design, and some clever mechanics make it a must-play.
Lovely. It's the word that probably best describes Braid, an arthouse platformer that depicts the tale of protagonist Tim's retrieval mission. At its surface, Braid is about love. As Tim haplessly seeks out the Princess he's destined to save from a dastardly nasty, the game hints at a deeper plot. That, of course, is up to player interpretation, but whether you wish to search deeper into the tale's context, or simply label it as an empty-nothing - Braid is profoundly moving.
Braid is the brain-child of indie game designer Jonathan Blow, who funded the game's development with his own money. It took Blow three years to build the game (ported to PS3 by HotHead Games), earning him the "Innovation In Game Design" award at the Independent Games Festival in 2006.
There are many nods to Super Mario in Braid. The game is a platformer on the surface, with several nods to classic Nintendo heritage. Go deeper though, and you'll find a rather complex puzzle title. The sub-priority in Braid is to use time manipulation in order to collect puzzle pieces (which can then be constructed). Many of these puzzle pieces can only be collected by clever uses of the world's mechanics. For example, one world sees Tim's forward steps moving time forward, and his backwards steps moving time backwards. With the ability to control time, Braid is rarely challenging from a precision stance - unlike Super Mario, if you fail you can just rewind time. Thus, much of the game's challenge comes from collecting the puzzle pieces.
The experience is never quite as free as alternative art-house projects like thatgamecompany's flower, but it's just as involving. Braid takes a familiar framework and innovates on it. Driven by an outstanding audio score, Braid is still able to empower the same raw feelings as something like flower, but it does so in a much more strict mechanical space.
That's not an argument against it though. In a way, it's kind of ironic. Braid is free to be interpreted as a game or a piece of art. Either way, it's just as delightful.