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Braid: Anniversary Edition Review (PS5)- Puzzling Like It’s 2008!

Braid Anniversary Edition PS5 Review. Created by Jonathan Blow over the course of four years, Braid is considered an indie classic, becoming one of of the first indie title to truly break the mold in an industry dominated by triple-A video games and their often laborious tropes.

Braid was thrown a bouquet of blushing roses from critics when it came out in 2008, showing the power of its legacy. Now returning in 2024 courtesy of Braid, Anniversary Edition, does the critically acclaimed puzzler still hold the same magic as it did 16 years ago, or is it time to let go?

Braid Anniversary Edition PS5 Review – Puzzling Like It’s 2008!


Puzzling Near-Perfection

Refreshing an indie classic over fifteen years after it changed the landscape of indie games forever, Braid: Anniversary Edition has the unenviable task of renewing one of gaming’s most groundbreaking titles while preserving its excellence for a newer audience. Sporting a refurbished art style and developer commentary from creator Jonathan Blow, Braid: Anniversary Edition is primed to remind the indie scene why it’s such a celebrated trailblazer.

Braid stars a besuited fellow named Tim and his desire to search and save a princess from a terrifying monstrosity. This story is scattered throughout the game’s levels through titbits of text and intrigue without overloading you with exposition, which is a refreshing way of delivering intrigue to the game world without dumping narrative loads onto your head in the hopes that you the player can internalize it all comfortably.

Like a Mario platformer, the story is light and an excuse to engage in puzzles and platforming, but it’s still respectable for telling the story it does in a way that’s pleasingly digestible.

A Blazing Beauty

You start out as a shadow that overlooks a city engulfed in flames and the name Braid written in bold scorching in the center of the screen. This is a clever introduction because it’s easy to mistaken the blazing imagery for a generic video game starting screen, but when you discover that you can move Tim, then the artistry moves along into the next frame.

Once you’ve scurried down a small staircase, you’ll be greeted by a constellation and next to it lies Tim’s house. Six worlds are contained within this abode, most of which are locked until you complete each world, where they will gradually unlock as you make progress through the game.

The levels being contained inside Tim’s house is a novel way to reinforce a story that’s personal to Tim, and that everything you see and everything you play in Braid is part of Tim, his psyche, as well as his feelings towards the princess he wants to save. Braid does an exemplary job of letting the player feel connected to its world, and it’s fascinating to uncover a game where the story is as much of the puzzle as the game itself.

Ingenious Ingenuity

The gameplay in Braid was celebrated back in the day for its puzzle platforming ingenuity and time-rewinding mechanics, which may not appear so special today, but all these years later it still plays remarkably well and encourages careful and cerebral thinking in a way few games in the genre truly nail.

There’s one mechanic that points towards Braid’s ingenuity is the rewind mechanic. Players can initially use the time rewind function liberally in an unlimited capacity to solve its bevvy of platforming challenges, enabling players to complete levels with minimal fuss or retrying sections after succumbing to menacing obstacles and falls.

As you make progress through Braid though, your time manipulation powers will be reduced as new objects are thrown into the fray that’ll force you to solve platforming conundrums in sophisticated and cerebral ways. Sometimes you’ll need to use time mechanics to navigate through an onslaught of projectiles, and you’ll often need to configure your timing in order to jump onto a moving platform that’s otherwise inaccessible.

Braid throws many scenarios at the player, and as a result it continuously feel fresh and uniquely challenging, allowing every inch of the two-hour experience to be filled with exquisitely paced brain-scratchers. For such a small indie curio, Braid certainly knows how to pack a mean puzzle-platforming punch.

Every level requires you to collect golden keys to open up areas to the next segment of the stage, meaning you’re not only trying to proceed from left-to-right and manoeuvring time to your advantage, but figuring out the ideal method to retrieve keys means you’ll be bopping monstars on the head and using them as jumping pads to ascend to higher platforms, and turn back the clock in an effort to bounce on them when the keys they’re holding are ripe for the picking.

Mimics are another type of enemy to be on the look out for. These deceptive rabbits with flowers implanted in their backs can be mistaken for simple and harmless flowers until they pop out of the ground to become obstacles, or more aptly-sly little pests. Yet much like the monstars, going back in time can help you either avoid them or get the drop on them so they don’t bother you, well at least until more of the blighters show up!

Another object you’ll be collecting along your journey are puzzle pieces. These pieces can often be found in tricky spots in the level that are challenging to access, but if you nab all of them you can fit an entire jigsaw puzzle together that’ll form a picture and act as decorative art work in Tim’s house. These pieces of decor are illustrations of the story told in the textbooks that introduce the game’s story chapters.

A Pixel-Perfect Puzzler

As true in 2008 as it is in 2024, Braid is an elegant and beautiful audio-visual treat. The sound is crisp and satisfying like when those green spiky claws attempt to chomp down on you like a ravenous pair of tweezers. The soundtrack brings a sense of modest wonderment to Braid as well, which is a pleasing touch.

The art style is inspired, crafted with a dazzling surrealness that brings every world to life. The revitalised polish of this Anniversary Edition props up an already tranquil and gorgeous artistic achievement. The backdrops are stunning and they tell their own stories, which is part of the majesty of Braid and all of its suffused elements.

No excuses can be made now, this is the best time to give Braid your attention and respect is right now, thanks to this commemorative upgrade known as Braid: Anniversary Edition. The cleverness and ingeniousness of Braid’s design, puzzles, and the way every interconnected element weaves a thought-provoking tapestry is irresistible and deserving of your admiration. There’s no better time to revisit this classic in its restored state, so go and pay respects to one of gaming’s most groundbreaking titles.

Braid: Anniversary Edition is out on May 14 for PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One.

Review code kindly provided by publisher.

Score

9.5

The Final Word

No excuses can be made now, this is the best time to give Braid your attention and respect is right now, thanks to this commemorative upgrade known as Braid: Anniversary Edition. The cleverness and ingeniousness of Braid's design, puzzles, and the way every interconnected element weaves a thought-provoking tapestry is irresistible and deserving of your admiration. There's no better time to revisit this classic in its restored state, so go and pay respects to one of gaming's most groundbreaking titles.