Zestful Contemplations Best of 2008 Awards
Way the hell after 2008 is a thing of the past, it’s Zestful Contemplation’s Best of 2008 Awards. I’m not pretending to make my awards comprehensive or unbiased or any of that other pretentious crap. The fact that these awards reflect my own personal experiences, tastes, and dislikes is exactly the point. I haven’t played every game that came out this year and I’m not going to consider a boatload of titles I never played. But I did play a huge number of games this year, and these choices reflect my personal tastes and thoughts about the games I spent time with in 2008.
Few puzzle games have ever been able to grip me, for whatever reason, so in 2008 there was really only one puzzle game that mattered to me. That is to say, it is the only puzzle game I can remember playing. Luckily it was a really, really good one, so even if I am fairly ignorant of the genre, I can be halfway confident in stating that this would be a strong contender even on a list that came from slightly more experience than this one happens to.
Braid is a game that could almost be called pretentious, in a sense. I would argue this is not a bad thing. It is almost the very definition of the type of game the snooty games-as-art people bring up when they say that a game can be more than just mere entertainment; that a game can be considered, rightfully and truly, as something with a deeper meaning, purpose, and connection to the viewer.
For the record, I am one of these snooty games-as-art people and that is why I love Braid so much.
It demonstrates with wonderful enthusiasm that games can do so much more than just provide the next summer blockbuster where your fingers happen to be pressing buttons to make things happen every once in a while instead of munching on popcorn.
It has a gorgeous and totally unique art style fit for framing and hanging on the wall. Its story is brilliantly told in a minimalistic fashion that doesn’t get in the way, but is still emotionally meaningful and impactful when the big twist comes your way. It uses its level designs to enhance the story.
Perhaps best of all, it shows how a small development team can create an absolute masterpiece to rival some of the best productions of the big studios (in its own little way) and almost singlehandedly shoves downloadable games into the realm of relevance.
Oh, and it has some pretty good puzzle elements in there somewhere too, now that I think about it.