After hearing about Braid on podcasts and websites I finally got around to purchasing a copy on Steam when it was offered in a crazy $30 package with 9 other various Indie games.
Braid instantly grabbed my attention by offering me a puzzle before I even started the game. As anyone who starts a new game of Braid will see instantly, you begin with Cloud World #2 and upon entering this second world you can stop to read a few books that tell you about Tim's (the main character) Princess and his quest to find her. The game sucked me in by offering me these 2 questions:
1. Why is Manhattan burning in the background of the starting screen?
2. Where is world #1?
3. Who is this Princess?
I was instantly amused by the tributes to Mario Bros. The common enemy is very similar to Mario's Goombas and every world has you trying to find the Princess. Only this time around you have only a very vague idea of who or what this Princess is and what she represents to Tim.
Braid is a very simple game mechanically. You are Tim traveling through these worlds collecting puzzle pieces to create pictures in order to unlock new worlds. To aid you and make puzzles more interesting you have the ability to rewind, freeze and fast forward time.
The "beginner" puzzles were clever and fun. They teach you how to play the game and then the game's creator ramps up the difficulty. I'm pleased to say I solved most of the game without aid from any walkthroughs, but I did need hints a few times when dealing with the new mechanics the game introduces. I definitely suggest taking your time to solve them on your own because hints made the puzzles feel less satisfying while the ones I solved on my own were a lot of fun.
Each new world offers some sort of new game mechanic that violently twists your perception of the game. For instance, there's an entire world where everything moves when you move flipping everything you've learned about controlling time and even simple movement through levels upside down. There are other more interesting worlds, but I wouldn't want to spoil them.
Incidentally my desire to not spoil the game makes it very difficult to discuss the story. The story is seems so straight forward until the later worlds. Each cloud world offers a few green books that tell little snippets of story. At first they're very simple but vague. Later they start to make you question what Tim is doing. Finally, the end really confuses your preconceptions.
This link below is a very interesting breakdown of the entire story. It is definitely a spoiler, but it's also a very fun read. I have read many ideas on what the story means and I've liked them all. This is one of my favorites.