As someone who rants often about the needs for community in MMORPGs and interdependence in their gameplay, playing video games with a partner is a nearly alien concept to me. Growing up, I mostly played video games by myself. In my older years, I played plenty of video games online with other people (many I consider close friends), but the cooperative, controller-pass, all-in-the-same room has largely eluded me.
That was the case until recently when I decided to get Diane to play through Braid.
When Braid originally came out, I bought it without much hesitation. It was at a time when indie games were fresh, and Braid was met only with praise amongst my peers and the media. I have had it for years since, but I never beat it. Frankly, Braid isn’t the kind of game for me: I hate puzzles.
Diane loves puzzles, but only dabbles in video games. Throughout her life, she has been more the watcher than the player, and she has no issues with that. When it comes to games she enjoys playing herself, it is mostly Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. I thought I would take a chance on suggesting Braid to her, and, after beating it together, I am so glad I did.
It’s an amazing feeling to play a videogame with a partner. I’ve played cooperatively with close friends over the years, but never a significant other and certainly not in pursuit of 100%-ing a video game. Diane did most of the work with Braid – she solved the puzzles and grabbed all of the game’s puzzle pieces – but I stayed on the sideline, ready to be tagged in at a moment’s notice. She’s not particularly good at platforming, so I was used for a few tricky puzzles that required precision/twitch skills. I was also there to cheer her on or help brainstorm solutions.
I loved every moment of it, to be perfectly honest. I was never going to beat Braid myself, but getting to step back and ride shotgun through a game was surprisingly fun. I enjoyed pooling our strengths to makeup for our weaknesses too. Most of all, I loved sharing the sheer joy of playing through a video game with someone I am very much in love with.
To review Braid in short, it was a fun game. Many of the puzzles are smart, and even if the game’s text and subtext fizzled toward the end, I loved the atmosphere. The music was also good, though a bit repetitive.
More importantly, Braid was a conduit for our partnership. It provided problems that needed to be solved and that could be solved. While entertaining us, it also gave us ample opportunity to practice our teamwork and grow closer as individuals.
What more can you ask for from a bit of frivolous entertainment?