There aren't many video games that blew my mind, made me seriously think and made me feel like I have witnessed something beyond words, something magical. But Braid is one of those, it still hasn't lost it's grib, and I can still see it's geniously shocking ending right before my eyes. A lot of video game endings are pretty shit, they are either disappointing or just a cheap cliffhanger, that the writers pulled out of their hairy asses, so that another cash-in sequel can be made.
Braid's ending is a brilliant exception to this, of course you don't have to like it, but you have to admit that it is certainly something different. First for anyone who has forgotten what Braid is: Braid is a puzzle game in platformer shoes with time manipulation, fantastic music and a gorgeous art-style. Allow me to tell you know why I think the ending was so damm genious, fantastic, brilliant blablabla.
Well, one thing that made the ending so exciting was, that it wasn't easy to get there. Braid isn't a walk in the park, some of the puzzles are really tricky, but all of them are fantastic. I like the way Mr. Blow thinks about puzzles, he said that a puzzle should be something that you have to understand in order to solve, so you shouldn't be able to solve them on accident (but that can happen of course).
The other thing is, if you allow me to be a bit philosophical here, that you can look at Braid as a toy universe (you can look at every video game in that way), the puzzles in there illustrate logical consequences of the rules of the universe (What if certain objects are imune to rewined? What if time is mapped to your position on the X-Axis? et cetera), those are little nuggets of truth. In short: Because Braid is quite a challange, I wanted to see what the pay-off is, of course.
This guy knows how to pull of some crazy shit
So I fought or rather puzzled my way through the first 5 worlds and then I was finally there, the last world, I might get know what this is all about now, I was getting nervous and excited. The last three little puzzles before the ending (which are pretty easy, but that's a good thing, otherwise they would break the flow) take place in a world where everything is going backwards except for you. Two different directions of time clash here and it's quite mind blowing indeed. The music made me more and more excited aswell, also the fact that these levels don't have a name and that their icons show a flower decaying (or blossoming backwards) added to my excitement. I had the feeling that I was about to witness something big.
And so I did. Describing the ending in words won't do it justice, it's something you have to experience, it's something magical and might turn your view of the game on it's head. It fucks with your expectations, also you should note that the ending is actually the beginning, but backwards at first and the epilogue that followed just added to the mystery of it all aswell.
Oh look how pretty!
So what is it all about? I can't really put it into words and I believe I have to think about it more, but the game has affected me more than any other game I've ever played...
Now you could bitch about the vagueness of it all and call it pretentious shit and I won't blame you for that (everyone is entitled to their opinion bla bla), but you should take into account that Jonathan Blow made Braid about something that is impossible to verbalise, he wanted to point at something that he cares about, so being really direct about it is impossible then isn't it? It has something to do with time, quantum physics, mistakes, the nature of human relationships and a lot more. Whatever it is about, this is something that everybody should play and experience and if you are just a little open minded, then it even might change you.
It certainly changed me.