A touch-based puzzle platformer(ish) that’s cute in a bizarre Nightmare Before Christmas kind of a way, which exclusively uses the touch screen and rear touch panel for control.
Long time readers will be aware that I came across Murasaki Baby for the first time at EGX Rezzed at the NEC in early 2014, and it caught my attention even back then with it’s, well, unsettling appearance, which most people seem to think is Japanese, only to find it’s from Italian minds led by the creator of Killer 7 among others. The premise of the game is quite simple – Baby has awoken in her works and her mother is nowhere to be seen, and it’s your job to guide her, in one piece, to be re-united with her mum through an unnerving childhood landscape of hopes and fears… and terrors of the psyche of small children.
Murusaki Baby is spread across four distinct areas, each with environmental “mood” changes that interact with the game play that are switched between by swiping the rear touch panel, and in most cases have a game changing interactive effect to the story telling with a tap in the right place. Basic control is literally by leading Baby by the hand… you touch the screen to take her hand and then lead her through the levels. The further you extend her arm the faster she tries to walk/run, but pull her too hard and she trips over her own feet and ends up standing back up as she dusts herself off, and starts all over again with a little giggle, prompting your own sense of parenting to vow not to pull her to the floor once more. The child holds onto her heart which is a balloon on an all-too-easy to let go tether, which you must protect as much as Baby herself as spikes and even safety pin flies, that are anything but safe, threaten the little girl’s life. Burst that heart balloon and she’s done for, even in her amazing upside-down faced glory.
Lateral jumps are executed by a touch screen swipe across the chasm (just hope there’s no tentacle in wait to grab Baby from view, leaving you utterly helpless to save her as you watch her balloon heart speed up and give out with a burst, painting the screen with a splatter of purple blood.) Baby herself tends to deal with moving up and down platforms generally with a helping tap occasionally moving things along (for instance to get her to hop on a log so you can summon forth the rain to raise Baby to an unassailable height.)
The puzzles are a mixture of logic and digit dexterity, to the point where manipulation of your fingertips in more than one location on the touch screen, or a combination of the screen and rear touch pad, is necessary to get past a particular point. An example of this is that to stop the balloon being popped by thorns as you guide baby below them you have to lead her and drag the balloon down at the same time.
You will on your journey meet characters, who are all tragic in their own way, be it down to enforced bunny symbiosis, or needing a huge amount of Loreal intervention to get their hair back under control rather than vice versa.
With completion of the game taking around two and a “bit” hours (if you get the hang of the way it works immediately, and maybe double that generally) it is disappointingly short for it’s launch price point of £8 as a digital only title when compared with the longevity of other Vita PSN titles, or even PS Mobile games.
The presentation is everything you could wish it to be, and what there is of the game is very worthwhile, but there just isn’t enough of it – to the point where it is almost all style and no substance… almost. The game demands to be longer and thus the player is let down by it’s brevity. In short it needs more, just needs to be more, to be a complete expierience. Doubling the game size, or halving the price and referring to it as “episode 1” would be a step in the right direction.
At A Glance
- Title: Murasaki Baby
- Publisher: Ovosonico/Sony Computer Entertainment
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Cross Save: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 446MB