It's been more than three years since the announcement of Braid: Anniversary Edition, a "hand-painted" remake of the famed indie hit. At the time, it was supposed to arrive in 2021, and that was a pretty big miss—but now, two years later, we've got a new release date of April 30, 2024.
Three years is a heck of a delay for a do-over of a relatively small 15-year-old puzzle-platformer, but—and I'm just speculating here, but—the extra wait may have something to do with the addition of more than 15 hours of commentary from Braid creator Jonathan Blow and other developers. That's right, 15 hours of talking about a 15-year-old game—to put that in perspective, that means it'll take about three times as long to listen to the full commentary track as it will to finish the game.
"The goal is to make it the craziest, most-in-depth commentary ever put in a videogame," Blow said. "You can follow particular threads of commentary spatially, through wormholes that go from level to level to see evolutions of particular concepts; the commentary has lots of markup so we can circle stuff on the screen, point arrows at whatever visual detail we are talking about, show diagrams, play back recordings of gameplay to show what happens if you try doing this or that in a particular level, and many other capabilities."
I liked Braid a lot when it first came out, although I wasn't especially good at figuring out the later-game puzzles. But even so, 15 hours (holy cow) of commentary seems to me less like a feature and more like a threat. I'd be happy to listen to some anecdotes or interesting insights for, say, 15 minutes, but 15 hours? Maybe there are some diehard Braid fans out there who can't wait to dive that deep, but is there really still 15 hours (I mean, seriously, wow) worth of things to say about Braid at this point? To be perfectly clear, I'm not saying there isn't, but I am definitely wondering about it.
Fortunately, the commentary track is not mandatory, so you can just jump in and play the game if you want. The Anniversary Edition promises a number of enhancements over the original, including:
- Improved sound and new mixes and variants of the soundtrack by Martin Stig Andersen (Control, Inside) and Hans Christian Kock
- Hand-repainted graphics by original artist David Hellman
- Animations with extra frames, for smoother in-game motion
- Ability to switch back and forth between the old and new Braid on the fly
- 15+ hours of commentary featuring Jonathan Blow, David Hellman, Marc ten Bosch (Miegakure), Brian Moriarty (Trinity, Loom, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel), Casey Muratori (1935; Handmade Hero; Computer, Enhance!), Cris Moore (gamer, resident faculty at the Santa Fe Institute), Frank Cifaldi (Video Game History Foundation), Martin Stig Andersen, Hans Christian Kock, and Jakob Schmid.
The side-by-side clips in the new trailer don't reveal a world of visual difference between the two games, although you can see that quite a lot has been done in the details. Still, I do have to wonder whether this is going to land as a particularly essential remake: I just fired up the original Braid on Steam and it's still a beautiful game (and supports 4K resolution, so there's no weird stretching or aspect ratio issues on modern displays) and plays perfectly well. Perhaps I'm setting my sights too high, or maybe the differences will be more pronounced when the game is actually out and playable, but going by first impressions I think I expected a little more from a remake, especially after this much time in development.
We'll see next year, and maybe I'll be surprised—and I hope so, because I really did enjoy the original. Storefronts haven't been announced yet but Braid: Anniversary Edition will be available on PC, console, and mobile devices via Netflix.