4.5 starsRatingsReviews

‘Braid, Anniversary Edition’ Review – Revisiting an Indie Game Classic on Netflix, Switch, and Steam Deck

TouchArcade Rating:

The term “remaster" started losing all meaning in the early PS4 and Xbox One generation when we saw a few games just see bare-bones ports while being called remasters. Since then, we’ve had remakes that are more re-imaginings like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Resident Evil 2, and also games officially called remasters that are more like remakes with Metroid Prime Remastered and Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition (this one is called a remaster on Nintendo’s website in Japan). So when Braid, Anniversary Edition (Free) from Thekla, Inc was announced as a remaster, I wasn’t even sure what to expect because the original game looks gorgeous and felt great to play when I tried it last year on Steam Deck as well.

Having now played Braid, Anniversary Edition on iPhone and iPad through Netflix, Nintendo Switch, and Steam Deck while trying the original game on my older Steam Deck, I see that a lot more has gone into this release than I expected, and I’m not even talking about the extras. In this Braid, Anniversary Edition review, I’m going to cover whether this is worth getting if you already played the original, and also why this is worth your time if you’re new to the game and comparing all versions as usual.

If you’ve not played Braid before, it is a puzzle-platformer with a gorgeous aesthetic, incredible music, and excellent mechanics intertwined into the various levels. These range from different ways of manipulating time that either directly let you control time, interact with the environment in interesting ways, or even have time controlled by your own movement. There’s a lot that changes across the levels, and even though I’ve played the game twice before, I enjoyed revisiting the old areas and seeing how well the extra content has been added into Braid, Anniversary Edition. In a lot of ways, Braid, Anniversary Edition feels like a deluxe 4K Blu-Ray remaster of an older movie you loved chock full of bonus content, interviews, and extras. I don’t think I’ve seen this much attention put into those areas of a re-issue of any game outside something from the masters of reissues at Digital Eclipse.

For newcomers to Braid, you can experience this without any of the extra content, and even toggle the older visuals if you’d like to play it like it was back in the day, but on modern platforms. If you already played it, you might first wonder what was “remastered" visually, but toggling the old and new graphics which you can do just about at any part of the game will show you how much attention has gone into translating the colorful painting aesthetic of Braid for modern platforms while making it feel just as you remembered the original in your head.

The comparison below shows the new graphics (left) with the old graphics (right) on my iPad Pro (2020):

For those who played Braid before, aside from the remastered visuals and improved soundtrack quality, the highlight is the commentary. I thought we might just get a commentary track playing while making our way through the game normally (which is included if you’d like), but I’m stunned at how much has been added on top of that for those who really want to go into the weeds of Braid. Not only do you get to check out different kinds of commentary with interview dialogue during parts of the game, but there’s a commentary world on its own that lets you experience design, programming, sound & music, and visuals as different categories of commentary. I’d say this commentary feature on its own is worth the asking price of Braid, Anniversary Edition for me, but there’s so much more than that in this release overall.

Before getting into the mobile port and platform-specific features and differences, if you’re wondering whether Braid, Anniversary Edition is worth buying or playing if you already have played it before, the answer is yes, if you care about the extra content or want to replay it. This is now the best version of Braid, and instead of just giving it a fresh coat of paint (I couldn’t resist) and porting it to more platforms, Thekla did so much more. My only real complaint with the release itself, is that there’s no physical version right now, and I will use this chance to grumble about no physical release of The Witness as well. If you already own Braid on Steam, Braid, Anniversary Edition is available at a 50% off discount for existing owners, and this is a no-brainer purchase if you like the game.

Braid, Anniversary Edition on mobile is available exclusively through Netflix. I tested it on my iPhone 15 Pro, iPad Pro (2020), and iPhone 14 Plus. On the iPhones, Braid, Anniversary Edition has fullscreen support which I didn’t expect. On iPad, there are black bars above and below the gameplay. Performance is solid across the board as well. The issues I ran into have to do with touch controls. If you play with a controller, which Braid, Anniversary Edition supports, these will not bother you, but I am disappointed to see no customization for the on-screen control button sizes. The touch targets for some controls are too small on the iPhone 15 Pro. I found them acceptable on iPhone 14 Plus though.

On Steam Deck, Braid, Anniversary Edition has black bars above and below the 16:9 aspect ratio gameplay. It targets your screen refresh rate (90fps on Steam Deck OLED, 60fps on Steam Deck LCD, and 144fps on my monitor) but seems to use v-sync (double buffered) where if the game cannot hit the target frame rate, it drops to half that for a few seconds. On the Steam Deck OLED, I noticed it sometimes went from 90fps to 45fps for a few seconds, but it always shot back up. There are no graphics or display options in Braid, Anniversary Edition on PC that I can see on Steam Deck.

On Nintendo Switch, Braid, Anniversary Edition looks gorgeous on the Switch’s OLED screen. I also tested it on my Switch Lite. The only difference here is load times are longer and the swapping between SD and HD graphics sometimes has a delay on Switch compared to mobile and Steam Deck. I have no qualms in recommending it on Switch if you’d prefer to get it there.

Being able to change from the older to newer graphics on the fly also highlighted how much better the soundtrack quality is in Braid, Anniversary Edition. Everything sounds clearer, and this perfectly complements the visual upgrade we see. Speaking of the visuals, not only is everything gorgeous on high resolution modern displays, but seeing assets redone and new animations hits home how much work went into this release.

As a value add to Netflix, Braid, Anniversary Edition is an amazing boost to its gaming catalog for newcomers to the puzzle-platformer, and another fantastic game on the service that likely wouldn’t have hit mobile alongside other platforms. Playing Braid, Anniversary Edition has been just as much fun as it was experiencing the Xbox 360 version years ago, and I hope it gets a physical release in the future. I also hope the mobile version sees some touch control improvements in potential patches though.

  • Braid, Anniversary Edition

    NETFLIX MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED. Bend time to solve subtle platform puzzles in this update of the indie classic "Braid," fe…
    TA Rating:
    Buy Now