Release: 2008 / 2009
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade / PC
Graphics: Breathtaking. Not because it is super-hyper-realistic, but because its very own art-style is implemented perfectly. The whole game looks like one big water color painting ("games are art" anyone?). It is just beautiful. It doesn't matter in which stage you are, they are all just that incredible.
Story: Story? In my 2D-Jump'n'Run? It's more likely than you think! Well okay, for real now: at first sight the story sounds bland. Well, there isn't even that much of a story. You are just a guy searching for his princess. Yes, it is exactly the Mario-story. The game features some more references to the Super Brother, quotes like "Your princess is in another castle!" and also little brown dudes which die if you jump on their heads. So one would suggest this is a direct clone. No big surprise: it is not.
If you look just a little bit deeper into the story itself you get to experience one of the most well-thought-out stories you are ever live to see in a game. It has so many layers and hints and indirectnesses in itself, there are so many forum-users out there discussing what it all was about, it isn't even funny anymore.
So for now we covered that the game is not a Luigi's Brothers copy, at least not storywise. Gameplaywise? HELL IT'S NOT!
The gameplay is more like the one from recent Prince of Persia games. The ones where you can turn back time. Difference: You can do it all the time in Braid. For how long you want.
And there, you have it.
Beautiful graphics + deep story + 2D + Jump'n'Run + Time-Puzzles = one of the best games ever made. Something I will make my children play before allowing them to even touch anything else :F
And my grandchildren.
Oh, and their children also.
One of the only downers of this game is the fact that it has not that much replay value. Once you figured all the puzzles out, you are not all like "Oh my god this was so good i gotta play it again". There is a challenge in this game for speedruns, which are not really appealing to everyone, but hey, it's something.
Awesome Fact: Okay, i lied about the replay-value. Here is why: You thought the goal of the game was to collect all jigsaw pieces? You fell for it! There are seven stars hidden somewhere in the game. Wait, you don't believe me? Why? Because you never ever saw something looking even remotely like a star? Guess what: you have to think harder. Most of the later puzzles in the game need all of your brain-activity to be not only solved by chance, but because you knew how to solve them. To find the stars, hell, even just to SEE them, but not yet reach em you have to think so hard out of the box your mind will need a break of working for the next few weeks. I shit you not, the riddles to find these darn 5pointed, glowing little dickheads are so unbelievable hard.
The worst (and by worst, i mean "AWESOMELY BEST") part about it: the puzzles are fair. No illogical bullshit like some Point&Click adventures force you to do, all you need to do is think. And think some more. And then think where you can trick the game and its mechanics. And then again think some more. And then you may get a clue where a star may be hidden. But you don't know. Because you didn't think enough.
Oh and guess what, the ending you saw the first time you played through the game?
Yeah, that was not the real ending.
You get the real ending after you collected all the 7 stars.
But the game won't tell you that.
Man I love this game for the time I spent in it.
And the times it just fucked my brain harder than anything else.