Just seen Oppenheimer? Here's the one game you need to play next

Oppenheimer / Braid
(Image credit: Future)

We need to talk about Barbenheimer… no wait, Oppenheimer! What a movie. As much as I adore the peak era McConaissance Interstellar, I reckon it’s the best film Christopher Nolan has made since The Dark Knight.

And if you enjoyed the director’s take on American Prometheus half as much as I did, there’s one video game you absolutely need to play / re-experience. 

That game would be Braid. 

What We're Playing

Welcome! This column is part of a series in which members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're playing and enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talked about how F1 23 is a great gateway into the world of Formula One

Jonathan Blow’s indie masterpiece was one of the main titles that helped make Xbox Live Arcade a huge success. And the most interesting aspect of this sensational platformer hybrid? What initially appears to be an homage to the best Mario games includes a stealth plot that revolves around The Manhattan Project. 

The ending of Braid is absolute genius. For most of the game, protagonist Tim appears to be a pretty vanilla rip-off of Nintendo’s icon. He jumps on enemies’ heads and he tries to save a princess from a hulking brute on multiple occasions; take away the mustache and Tim is basically a time-travelling Mario. 

Tale as old as Tim

Braid video game

(Image credit: Number None / Jonathan Blow)

Accept he’s really not. Tim is actually the villain of the tale — a fact that’s only revealed during the game’s final scene when it becomes clear our hero’s love interest isn’t trying to be reunited with him, she’s desperately trying to escape his clutches.

The pivotal moment flips the game’s rewind feature ingeniously, instantly conveying to the player that you’ve been playing the bad guy all along. 

But how does this tie into Oppenheimer? While it’s subtle, there’s a clear nod to the creation of the atomic bomb. During the end credits, a quote from the Manhattan Project’s director, Kenneth Bainbriddge, flashes across the screen: “Now we are all sons of bitches." It’s a key moment that gives the game’s fairly abstract plot far greater layers. 

People who are far smarter than me interpret the use of this quote as suggesting the princess is the A-bomb and Tim is a scientist who was involved in the Trinity Test. This would be a seriously clever subtext for a game in 2023, let alone one that came out in 2009. 

Comparing a 2D platformer to a film that centers around Cillian Murphy’s immaculate cheekbones seems a little absurd, but Braid was how I initially learned about the creation of nuclear weapons. That speaks to both my ignorance and how effective games can be at directing their audiences to wider historical issues. 

If you missed it first time out, the good news is it’s still easy to play Braid on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S for £9.99 / £6.75. There’s also an upcoming anniversary edition headed to PC, PS5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles that I can’t wait to play. 

All these years after its initial release, I never thought I’d be comparing the latest Chris Nolan film to an Xbox 360 game. Jonathan Blow is a genius and the subversive style he uses to reflect on perhaps the most important moment in human history remains uniquely inspired. 

Now all we need is a game to deliver a stealth story on the origins of Barbie and the circle will truly be complete. 

More from Tom's Guide

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.