Though lovers be lost love shall not.
- Dylan Thomas
Braid is a game I struggled to finish - Iím simply bad at puzzle games of any kind, but the aspect of the game that truly affected me was the story. Iím not going to rant on the ambiguous nature of the game, but more about the literal words used in the game.
Before you enter each world there are a number of books; these books contain a little paragraph that tells you the story. This little piece of writing is what affected me emotional, not the game itself, but the words in the game.
As you progress through each world. The paragraph in the books get longer and complicated, but starts to reveal your character. These paragraphs can almost be a short story into itself, and like Franz Kafkaís amazing short story ďTwelve SonsĒ Ė I can relate to it to on a grand scale. Our protagonist, Tim, is me.
Tim is off on a search to rescue the princess. She has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster. This happened because Tim made a mistake.
Not just one. He made many mistakes during the time they spend together, all those years ago. Memories of their relationship have become muddled, replace wholesale, but one remains clear: the princess turning sharply away, her braid lashing at him with contempt.
He knows she tried to be forgiving, but who can just shrug away a guilty lie, a stab in the back? Such a mistake will change a relationship irreversibly, even if we have learned from the mistake and would never repeat it. The princessís eyes grew narrower. She became more distant.
Our world, with its rule of causality, has trained us to be miserly with forgiveness. By forgiving too readily, we can be badly hurt. But if weíve learned from a mistake and become better for it, shouldnít we be rewarded for the learning, rather than punished for the mistake?
What if our world worked differently? Suppose we could tell her: ďI didnít mean what I just said,Ē and she would say: ďItís okay, I understand,Ē and she would not turn away, and life would really proceed as though we had never said that thing? We could remove the damage but still be wiser for the experience
That is taken from the first five books of world 2 (the first world in the game). Itís pretty easy to see the ambiguity in the writing. What did Tim do wrong? Why is he running away? These are questions that I ask myself everyday. When I first played Braid, I was down, bruised, and beaten up by my last relationship. This relationship went on for three years, the longest for me, and like Tim, I made mistakes, and like Tim, Iím not telling, but wish I can go back in time and keep my mouth shut, or word my sentence in a different way. I sometimes wonder if I explained to her my feelings would she understand, or would she would hiss? Braid is all about forgiveness and learning from your experiences. I can say that I am a better man because of my last relationship. I now know how to talk and treat women better, not that I was some kind of monster Ė I was a very shy guy before I met her, but I now posses the knowledge and confidence towards women that was once absent in my younger life.
Iím now a college student who has since moved on with my life, but I still think about her. When I go out on a date, sheís on my mind Ė this woman taught me everything about sex, love, and responsibility and I repaid her with ignorance. Itís easy to dismiss what I had. I was young and inexperienced. I can easily blame my youth for my actions, but that would be a lie. I had complete control of my actions and knew what I was doing, my aim and intent was clear.
A few tears would come rolling down my cheek at every sentence in this game. I would find it difficult to look away from the screen, or to continue on with the game. I would re-read each book again and again till I got tired.
The game itself turned out to be quite a challenging puzzle game, but without these pieces of writing in the game, I doubt I would have finished it.
The ending is when the game finally answered my question: does the princess truly hate him? Take a look at the answer below.
It seems like the princess had enough of Tim. The princess is not willing to forgive; because all she did in the relationship was forgive. My relationship ended by her taking me to a Starbucks and telling me itís over. After that, we fought, and my last words to her were ďgo fuck yourself.Ē I havenít talk to her in two years.
Since then, I wrote her a small e-mail. I will now share an excerpt from it.
Iím sorry. You're right about everything. There is nothing I can say. I was an asshole those last couple of months. I'm glad you're happy and much more confident now. I'm perfectly aware that I was the problem the last couple of months in the relationship. This will sound clichť, but I was young and didn't have any experience at all when we went out.
I noticed what I did was wrong and that's why I stopped calling and texting you the next day. I knew I was the problem, so I left you alone and never bothered you again. I just want to say I'm sorry. I don't want to see you or try to start a new friendship. I want you to know that I understand how you felt and there is nothing I can do or say to excuse any of my actions. You helped me so much in my life. You showed me so much, and I repaid you with ignorance. I apologize to you. I just wanted to get in contact with you to say that. Thank you for everything you have done. Till this day I have not met a girl so bright, beautiful and strong as you. I wish you nothing but happiness in the future, and I realize I let something special go.
... I didn't get any.
Braid is the only game to make me feel this emotion. Itís the only game that had me pause for a moment and think about my life. Itís the only piece of art that told me I wasnít alone - everything will work out... it's the only thing I can truly relate to.