One of the best Xbox indie games just got a must-play remake and I can't put it down

Mutliple enemies on platforms in Braid Anniversary Edition.
(Image credit: Thekla, Inc.)
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Part of the gig when it comes to being a gamer is your fingers aren’t always going to withstand the ravages of time as the years creep up. Back in 2009 when a surprise hit puzzle-platformer arrived on Xbox 360’s Xbox Live Arcade Service, I could breeze past Braid and its time-bending conundrums with relative ease. Fast forward 15 years, and its recently released (impeccably directed), remake is flummoxing me at every opportunity.

Clearly, I’m just way worse at playing games than that whippersnapper from back in 2009, because Braid: Anniversary Edition has put me through the ringer. And that’s not a slight on the game or its main developer Jonathan Blow — who also made the equally odd yet compelling The Witness on PS4. Braid Anniversary doesn’t change any meaningful mechanics compared to the original, it just seems like I’ve become a lot more dense when trying to Sherlock the solution to in-game puzzles.

Braid: Annversary Edition on PS5:Please note: Braid Anniversary is also available on Steam, Nintendo Switch Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, iOS and Android. 

Braid: Annversary Edition on PS5: now $19 @ PlayStation Store
The classic puzzle/platformer hybrid returnes with completed reworked art, the ability to jump back to the old visual style with a single button press, a tweaked soundtrack and in-game audio commentaries from developer Jonathan Blow. The PS5 edition also gets you the PS4 free version for free.
Please note: Braid Anniversary is also available on Steam, Nintendo Switch Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, iOS and Android. 

Circling back so I can heap some love on Braid Anniversary, it really is the dictionary definition of a “remake done right”. With new commentary tracks that can be accessed by interacting with certain symbols in the world, Blow talks you through the creative process of developing the game, then the challenges that resurfaced when it came time to remake Briad. These audio blurbs are fascinating to listen to for long-time fans, yet that’s not Anniversary’s main selling point. 

That would be the completely reworked visuals. Braid’s new backgrounds instantly pop like never before thanks to more vibrant colors and new high resolution texture work. Playing on my Steam Deck OLED, it looks astoundingly crisp. 

And if somehow you're not a fan of the rejigged art style, then good news! Say you’re the type of gamer who always prefers the OG source material, regardless of graphics, frame rates or visual design decisions, well Braid Anniversary has you covered. With a simple click of the right stick on your gamepad of choice, Braid automatically switches to its 2009 graphics. It’s a seriously cool trick we’ve seen in the recent Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Trilogy, or going back further, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.

Princess diaries 

Tim speaking to a small dinsosaur in front of a castle in Braid Anniversary Edition.

(Image credit: Thekla, Inc.)

Focusing back on Braid, you play as a cute, suited and booted lad named Tim who merrily hops around increasingly cranium-scratching worlds in the search of a mysterious princess who’s never quite there when you reach each level’s castle (a cute nod to the 1983’s iconic Super Mario Bros).

Not that Tim can get too distracted by chasing his royal crush. After all, this little gentleman has to constantly master evolving powers that allow him to rewind time, create shadow copies of himself and change the flow of time. Basically he does his level best to try to break the space-time continuum at every opportunity.

As this short adventure begins the game's platform-focused puzzles don’t initially prove to be overly taxing. The opening “Time and Forgiveness” stage easily lets you DeLorean Tim back in time with a quick button press. A feature that proves handy when you need to choose just the right moment to spring from the head of Goomba-style critter to reach a jigsaw piece Tim’s stubby legs couldn’t get to on their own.

The opening “Time and Forgiveness” stage easily lets you DeLorean Tim back in time with a quick button press"

Of course these gentle early head-scratchers only grow in complexity. And by the time you reach “Time and Mystery” — Braid’s levels unravel in the style of a book — Tim soon has to contend with a shadow version of himself that requires keen use of the time mechanic with two Tims on-screen.

It’s taxing stuff, but when those “Eureka!” moments finally kick in, they prove incredibly satisfying. In many ways, Limbo’s fiendishly addictive puzzles remind me of Braid’s conundrums. Though at least poor Tim doesn’t have to fend off a giraffe-sized spider every 15 minutes.

An image indicating spoilers are ahead.

If you’re sensitive to spoilers, it’s probably best you skip the next couple of paragraphs. Still here? Well then, I’m assuming you’re onboard with the idea of Tim getting gobbled up by a giant arachnid. I’ve written about this previously, but there’s a running subtext throughout Braid that suggests he isn’t the nice, cherub-faced dude in a lovely tweed jacket you first meet. In fact, a closing chase sequence that ingeniously plays in reverse, followed by a key quote concerning the Manhattan Project, heavily suggests Tim is actually one of the scientists who helped build the A-bomb.

Pretty heavy stuff for a cartoon puzzle game that lets you jump on the heads of feral pink bunnies, no?

The actual quote that plays across the screen is “Now we are all sons of bitches.” Words attributed to the Manhattan Project’s Kenneth Bainbriddge, who was the director of the infamous Trinity Test. Over the years, fans of Braid have suggested that the princess is actually the A-Bomb and that’s why Tim is so obsessed with “rescuing” her. These notions fascinated me for years after finishing the original, and it’s probably the main reason this all-timer of an indie game has stayed with me for so long.

Braid's fascinating subtext is the main reason this all-timer of an indie game has stayed with me for so long"

Whether Braid is indie Oppenheimer in disguise or not, though, this anniversary edition has been handled terrifically well. It honours the legacy of what’s arguably the best game to come out of Xbox Live Arcade, it slaps on a gorgeous coat of new paint and it even lets you get into the minds behind this ingenious puzzler, to make an already intriguing game that much more fascinating.

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Dave Meikleham
UK Computing Editor

Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.