One Step Back

I don’t like to be too negative, but Braid pissed me off. It was a decent enough puzzle platformer, using some time-based mechanics which were new then, but in addition to that it was a media darling. Every gaming site was going on and on about this thing, and a lot of their attention was spent on the… “plot.” And there’s reason for that, the game really pushed it – hinting at something profound, keeping you going to the end with the expectation of some insightful revelation. And when you reached the end what you got was really just more hints. It never came together and actually said anything, it just made the suggestion over and over again that there was something meaningful there beneath the surface. After you finished the game you’d spend a little while thinking to yourself that you weren’t getting it, that you just need to to find that thread – the thing which brings together a bunch of jumbled ideas and phrases into something insightful or at least cohesive… There’s no thread. Fucking Braid.

There are plenty of bad games and there are plenty of pretentious games (which are bad), but they usually don’t get the kind of attention that Braid got. That was the big thing, it felt like betrayal in a way. The game made you feel dumb for not understanding an idea that wasn’t there, but you were sure there must have been something there… the critics wouldn’t be fawning all over this if it was just about dicking you around… right?

one step backWell they did and it made lots of money, so now that’s a thing: puzzle platformers with levels tied together by deep thoughts. Fortunately for us, most other developers haven’t latched on to the idea that deep thoughts become even deeper when they don’t make any sense. As a result, despite my snark, some of these are actually pretty decent. I don’t know if Braid was the direct inspiration for One Step Back, there are plenty of similar games, but I am confident that somewhere down the line Braid was influential.

All right, this is too much talking for such a short game. One Step Back is a decent little platformer that’s a little too moody for its own good, but the time-clone mechanic is fun and doesn’t overstay its welcome. The message isn’t a bad one, at least it makes sense, it’s just a little out of place.