Week 11: Braid

Throughout this game, I found it interesting that Tim is usually the person who instigates violence. Most of the time, the goomba-like creatures wander around on their own until you get in their way, and most of the bunnies don’t attack you until you walk across their fields. The first boss doesn’t do anything until you start throwing chandeliers at it. Even after that, it stops and waits in the corner where it cannot be hurt until you draw it out with more chandeliers. It also felt strange, after a while, to be continually protecting the goombas just so that you could kill them in order to reach a target.

I think this works really well with the ending. You know how this kind of game works (kill the monsters, get the keys), and you get so involved with winning it that you don’t pay attention to what you’re actually doing in order to win. Likewise, Tim knows what the archetypical romance story works (beat your rivals, get the girl), and so he doesn’t notice the damage he’s causing.

It’s also interesting to think about how the game hails you. You play as Tim, but he’s also a separate person from you. In this particular game, there’s no alternative way to play the game — you can’t progress without trying to ‘rescue’ the princess, or without killing a lot of possibly innocent monsters, so you don’t have to feel responsible for Tim’s choices.

Not to open up a whole can of worms in regards to video games and violence, but I do think that a narrative of violent conquest is really common in most media (video games maybe especially, but not by any means exclusively) and Braid does a great job of critiquing that situation.

I absolutely did not manage to get the extra-secret-second-ending — to get it, you need to complete a puzzle that involves waiting in place for two hours, and that is too much of a time investment for me. For anyone who doesn’t mind extra-secret spoilers, though, there are always walkthroughs:

According to those, the bonus ending shows that Tim is actually a nuclear scientist and the princess is a split atom. I’m honestly not sure that this is an improvement on the first ending! It’s very clever, but I don’t think it’s as surprising or well-integrated into the form of the game as the first one is. I haven’t personally played through to the second ending, though — maybe it would feel as natural as the first one did if you experienced the game in the ‘correct’ manner. Did anyone actually manage to get that ending? What do you think about the difference in the two endings?

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