104 points, 4 votes
Mordy: The greatest love story (after Violet: A Distraction!) this year came by way of a platformer that played with time. Also, this might not be a love story between the protagonist and the princess, but between a scientist and an atomic weapon. Either way, the game’s final moments (as the explosion goes off and time runs backward one last time) are understated and beautiful.
Brilliam: In spite of there being a lot about this game I didn’t like, I still loved a lot about it. I hate laundry-listing games, but the mechanics and the pacing and the art are all utterly top-notch. I LOVE Hellman’s art style. What I didn’t like was everything else about the presentation; the story, the text dumps, and even the setting left me a little flat. Still, no platforming game has been this incredibly well put-together. Blow might be a bit of a dick, but he knows how to think up insane puzzles, and that’s awesome. I hope his next game doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth like this one did, because he’s clearly an incredibly talented director.
CraigG: Just a wonderfully mellow, yet often frustrating platformer. I play this to relax after getting worked up over Fallout.
Mitch Krpata: Twisted my brain like a pretzel. This is a game in which everything comes together in perfect harmony. Whether it’s the hand-painted visuals, the oblique textual narration, or the darkening storyline, Braid casts a spell. During development, it got its share of attention for the sometimes colorful personality of its creator and sole designer, Jonathan Blow. Since its release, debate has raged as to whether Braid is an artistic high-water mark or pretentious wankery. But there’s no need to decide at this moment whether Braid is an important game. That’s for history to decide. Enough for now to say that it’s a damn good one.
Polyphonic: This is probably the most innovative game of the year, and the short time I spent with it was among the best gaming experiences I can recall. I have shown this game to so many people, many of them gaming neophytes, and everyone has been blown away by this game, and usually a little overwhelmed by it. It’s a profoundly unusual experience to play this game, but to play it well is satisfying in a way that few games are. There are plenty of games that provide a test of your reflexes, but few that challenge your intellect as much as this game. One of the best puzzles of all time.
How do you go about reviewing a videogame in which the main character is named after yourself, a videogame made by someone you’ve met and had dinner with, someone you’ve watched drink Chartreuse and conversed long with about videogame design? It’s a difficult encounter. How do you go about reviewing a game designed by someone who is a confessed devoted fan of your writing?