I first played Braid many years ago; since then it’s had a noticeable influence on my life. (Perhaps ironically, it got me more interested in physics -- I’m now an aerospace engineer working on microsatellites.) I only started the mod in 2014, during a six-month trip to rajasthan in India, where I was struck by the sense that the seasons were running in reverse. Some parts of India are close to the equator, but rajasthan’s desert is firmly in the northern hemisphere, so it’s still hot in summer and cold in winter just like in the USA. But all the rain comes in early fall, with the monsoon. In September/October/November the trees are green, the grass is lush and the flowers are blooming, then in March and April everything’s dry and dying, with fallen leaves blowing in the wind. This got me thinking about Braid -- the art style of Worlds 2, 3, 4, and 5 are clearly linked to the seasons, with summer proceeding backwards through spring, winter, and fall. I thought it would be interesting to make a mod replacing the text in the game’s books. I didn’t want to tell a new story, but rather emphasize hidden details and minor themes, like the progression of seasons, in a way that would hopefully enrich people’s understanding of Braid’s original writing.
For instance, many Braid players interpreted the story to fit the order that they encountered the worlds -- Tim starts off straightforwardly questing after The Princess in World 2, then things slowly get more confusing and vague until at first glance World 6 barely makes any sense at all, and then the famous twist ending of World 1 comes as a bit of a non-sequitur. Others think that trying to fit the different worlds into a linear plot is missing the point -- since each world is a different reflection on the same core themes, the worlds are more simultaneous than sequential. That’s mostly true, but if you pay attention it’s pretty clear that there is also a preferred plot order beginning in World 6, where Tim starts out lost and intimidated in a wide world overflowing with mutually exclusive possibilities. Counting down the next chapters (5… 4… 3... 2… 1…), he discovers and becomes more focused in his obsession with the Princess, and her significance for him grows until she is a godlike (and, yes, atom-bomb-like) embodiment of the perhaps-impossible philosophical answers he is searching for. In “Braid: More Now Than Ever”, I don’t change any core aspects of this story, but I try to embellish it and make it more literal.
What I didn’t expect was that the gameplay, too, had so much more depth than what I knew. Braid is such a cohesive, thoughtfully constructed work that it seemed almost perfectly complete, each world an ideal showcase of the consequences of its own time mechanic. So, I was shocked when I played a few fan mods and discovered a variety of amazing, delightful puzzles that totally stumped me, when I thought I already knew everything Braid had to show me. There were so many brilliant puzzle ideas in these other mods that pretty soon I wanted More Now Than Ever to be more than just new writing. Here are a couple of gameplay highlights for the Braid connoisseurs out there:
-Three levels in Braid feature a special platform that grants the player the same immunity to rewind (and the same green sparkles) that many other objects and items in the world occasionally posses. This unique mechanic has an incredible amount of puzzle potential, but only appeared briefly in Braid, giving it a mysterious feeling. "Braid: More Now Than Ever" really digs into this mechanic, using it in 13 different puzzles mostly in World 3.
-World 4, where time and space are correlated so that left and right map onto past and future, is totally amazing to me and is probably most players' favorite world. In particular, the way that time-space correlation interacts with the treadmill-esque clouds is delightful and mind-boggling. More Now Than Ever takes plenty of time to explore all the details, pushing the game's physics simulation to the limits in the process.
-Starting in World 5, some levels feature the interaction of multiple time powers at once, and there are lots of interesting puzzles showcasing how the laws of time in one world collide with those of another. Maximum difficulty wasn't a goal, but since original Braid already contains many of the simplest, most elegant puzzles, some of the challenges in More Now Than Ever can get quite complex! If you love putting your logic and reasoning skills to the test, this is where things really start to get serious.
-In World 6 of Braid, Tim can place a gold ring that creates a bubble of slowed time where objects move at 1/5 of their normal speed. In More Now Than Ever, this slowdown value is changed in each world, so the ring alternately speeds up time, stops it entirely, or throws it completely into reverse!