Murasaki Baby Review

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Murasaki Baby is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer released for the PS Vita on September 16, 2014. It was developed by Italian studio @ovosonico and published by SCE. For more info check out Muraskai Baby’s site. Screenshots taken by myself.

Murasaki Baby is a really, really weird game. I’ve played a lot of video games and I’ve never quite experienced anything like this one. It’s a couple years old but I recently played it and was struck by my experience so I thought it’d be a good one to share. Done in the style of Edward Gorey’s darkest paintings, it’s best described as gothic dark fantasy. While the touch controls can get in the way, Murasaki Baby delivers some challenging puzzles that sometimes smartly use the Vita’s two touch pads. It’s a short but memorable experience, in part due to its style rarely seen in video games and in part to its clever puzzles.

The first thing that grabbed me about Murasaki Baby was it’s very distinct world and style. There’s an element of mystery to the very simple 2D environments through which the player travels that begs attention to detail. The basic premise of Murasaki Baby is that there’s a little girl who’s looking for her mother in a nightmarish monster world and the player must guide her by holding her hand (touching the front touch screen). It’s a mechanic that can become tedious, constantly holding my finger on the screen for the whole experience might have actually irritated me had the game been any longer than it was.

The rest of the game controls brilliantly. Using the rear touch pad to cycle through backgrounds the player collects through their travels to help solve different puzzles started out a little gimmicky but by the end of the game, I was chaining together two or three different backgrounds to solve increasingly complex and rewarding puzzles. While the early levels don’t offer much in the way of a challenge the late game is definitely worth wading through the beginning. At some points, I had my fingers on three or four different touch points helping this little girl through increasingly dangerous circumstances. It was these puzzles that once solved made me feel like a goddamn genius. The actual physical act of holding my fingers in around my Vita like a bad game of Twister made it feel more like an accomplishment when I solved it, rather than if I was just using joysticks and buttons.

I especially loved the characters of Murasaki Baby. The little girl you guide encounters many other children throughout her adventure. Each child has a predicament that the little girl has to help them through in order to proceed. From two characters stuck together in the head to a little boy trapped in a monster rabbit, each character was unique and interesting in their own dark, twisted way. While this might put some people off who aren’t particularly fond of the weird and zany, I found it delightful and especially liked this guy:

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The score of Murasaki Baby also shines in its own dark, freaky way. Songs were tied to the background that was active at the moment, you could tell what you had active based on these sounds in case your hand was covering too much of the screen which really helped when some of the puzzles got a little crazy.

I developed an emotional connection with the little girl, and after guiding her through the messed up world she’s in I really felt attached to her character. The act of physically guiding her by holding her hand really made it feel like I was a part of her story, that I was one of the characters. She calls me her mommy, and after everything I did for her I really felt that need to protect her.

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While it’s short it’s also very sweet and definitely worth your time. There’s a lot of heart in this little adventure and some satisfying puzzles to go along. From the moment you set off and hold her hand at the start to the moment you let go, Murasaki Baby is a really weird but also very memorable experience. The characters, levels and music all come together to form this little gem of a Vita game.

 

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