Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Braid Review

My review of Braid is up. Yay for fantastic games!

A few items of note about the review. First, is that I gave the game an A+, but the final grade ended up being an A. Honestly, I don't know what qualifies a game as an A+ game over an A game, obviously, given my flagrant mis-grading. Is Braid perfect? No, but no game is perfect. Any way, don't let that lack of a "+" discourage you from playing the game because it is fantastic. EDIT: Apparently we don't grade higher than an A. Yes, I am an idiot.

Second, eagle eyed readers may notice that I dropped the nickname from my name in the review. I started doing that on a lark and it has become my thing, as I appear to be the only person who does it. Usually I use it as a means to pile on additional scorn, or just generally be snarky which befits my acerbic nature. That and I hate everything. For this review I couldn't come up with a nickname that didn't sound like I was making fun of the game, and I didn't want to make fun of this game. So, I dropped the name. Don't worry, when the great review engine cranks up again, I'll be sure to put the name back.

Finally, I wasn't kidding when I said that this review was hard to write. It's probably just my lack of skills as a writer, but I had a hell of a time explaining why this game was so good, and I think that it's because the game struck such an emotional note with me. That's a much harder thing to quantify. Now, even if there were no emotional beats in the story and Tim was just some wacky dude in a suit, the game mechanics and visuals would be enough to make the game a strong recommendation, but the story, particularly the ending, is where it all comes together. Obviously, your reaction to the story will be different, and I realize that my desire for a strong story causes me to rate games with great stories higher than their more technically impressive counterparts (witness my review for The Darkness), but I play games for the story, so if there's a game that absolutely nails a narrative, I'm going to rate it higher. Personally, I don't have a problem with people saying "oh, he only gave it a high rating because it tells a really good story", as if any one discusses my scores in the first place. We all play games for different reasons, and I play for the stories. Well, achievements and then the stories. The ability to ignore my children is up there too.

Now I'm just waiting for Too Human to arrive. I'm excited to see how the final version came out, what with all of the mixed reviews. I wasn't thrilled with the demo, but I'm not a big fan of unskippable cut scenes in any game, much less in a demo. If, five minutes into your demo, you're making me just sit there, I shut your demo off. I'm more than happy to give your game's story time to breathe in the full game experience, but in the demo, I ain't got the time for your jibber jabber. Besides, everyone in the cut scenes had dead eyes and it was kind of freaking me out. I don't see that changing in the retail release, but maybe it just won't bother me that much. I doubt it, but I'm trying to be impartial going in to this whole mess. Using the word "mess" certainly doesn't help. Whoopsie.

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