Review: Murasaki Baby (PlayStation Vita)
Murasaki Baby: Official GBAtemp ReviewPlayStation Vita 1,447 view 1 like 1 comment
- Release Date (NA): September 16, 2014
- Release Date (EU): September 17, 2014
- Release Date (JP): September 25, 2014
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
- Developer: Ovosonico
- Genres: Side scroller, puzzle platformer
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Indie surprise of the year?
Gamescom 2013 brought forth information on a new game published exclusively on the PlayStation Vita by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The Italian developer Ovosonico made their debut with the very different, but interesting game called Murasaki Baby. The game originally won quite a few awards at Gamescom and interested the press with its different gameplay and dark atmosphere. Indie games have been known to surprise gamers from time to time with something unique and unexpected and Murasaki Baby is not an exception.
Forget the conventional
You control a young little girl called Baby, who is trying to find her mother in a world of a child's fears and fantasies. In one hand you have a purple balloon while in the other the assuring finger of the player. While the PSVita has multiple options for controlling characters forget about them. The dpad, dual analogs, four buttons and two shoulder buttons are pushed to the side and the touchscreen, rear touchpad and gyroscope take the light. Forget about traditional platformer gameplay and enter touch and movement.
The game revolves completely around swipes, touches and flicks. At first it feels very awkward to use the controls. One index finger guiding Baby through the world of fear, while the other trying to solve the puzzles and protect the girl's only clear ray of hope, a purple balloon. The rear touchpad is used to change the background mood/atmosphere and affect the gameplay in multiple ways with unique abilities. As you proceed further in the game, you gain more abilities ranging from freezing the world, powering appliances with lightning strikes as well as the option to turn the world upside down. The last one meant literally turning the PSVita upside down.
As you proceed playing the game, you're easily hooked. I've rarely felt as much annoyance in a side scrolling puzzle/platformer game, when I failed to complete a section with the correct inputs. Still, the game made me try again and again, since the mechanics were surprisingly good after a while. During the middle of the game, there is a small section, where the developers clearly want you to try the game with the analogs and show how the traditional input method worked with a game such as this (hint: it felt very out of place).
The story is quite simple as your main goal is to guide Baby around the world and get to the end. As such, I'd preferrably compare the game to something along the lines of a piece of art in both gameplay, visuals and music. Imagine a Tim Burton movie such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride and you'll easily get close to the feel of Murasaki Baby. Headphones will enhance the experience nicely, since the immersion will be a step closer to excluding the outside world around you.
The game is relatively short, meaning it can be played in a few hours in one go without much issue. This is both a good and bad thing. As the gameplay is very different, it will take you a while to get used to it. At the same time, I felt that at the latter side of the game, I had had enough of the swishing, flicking and touching of the game. Another negative side of the game was the instability of the final build. Around half way in the story I began receiving error messages for failed saving, which resulted into a crash of the game just before the end of the game. The game had saved before crashing regardless of the errors, but this did affect the gameplay quite a bit as a major annoyance.
Should you buy it?
Murasaki Baby is different. There is no other way to describe the game. At the moment it seems apparent that anyone can make a game or two with a simple idea. Making something unique can be a bit more challenging, but in my opinion Ovosonico has succeeded quite nicely. The game is a breath of fresh air into the PSVita game catalogue and the portable gaming options in general. Its dark art style is something not seen quite often with such immersion in games. A completely touch based control system with a pinch of gyro here and there was brilliant and made me not want to play the game with an alternative control style. As with many puzzle oriented games, the replay value of the game is small after you have completed the game.
TL;DR: It's easily worth a playthrough or two thanks to the fantastic art and innovative gameplay, but the short length and small replay value make it a hard sell in a tight situation. One of my favorite indie games of the year so far.
+ Unique atmosphere and art style
+ Innovative gameplay
- Control scheme blocks a lot of the screen at times
- Crashed a few times during gameplay
Fantastic combination of the art style, music and atmosphere make the game worth trying out.
Rarely do games succeed in making use of new control schemes without feeling forced. New ways of playing are added as you proceed in the game, which keeps the game interesting without making it too complex.
The game has little replay value in terms of additional unlocked content or new levels. Still, I could see myself picking the game up again at some point in the future and playing the game from start to finish
out of 10
(not an average)
A breath of fresh air to the gaming market. Easy to pick up, new game mechanics and a stunning piece of art will keep you occupied while playing. The short total play time and big hands blocking part of the screen take a few points out of the total score. Easily one of my favorite indie games of the year, but could use some polish