Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Available On: PlayStation Vita
Announced at Sony’s Gamescom press conference, Murasaki Baby stood out from the crowd thanks to its unique artstyle and strange gameplay. Yet aesthetics aren’t everything in video games, so does that gameplay help carry it or should this baby be given to someone else?
Murasaki Baby puts you in the role of Baby, who has just woken up from a nightmare and can’t find her mother. As Baby steps into her closet she enters a twisted world full of other people and dangers to her. While Baby spends the whole game looking for her mother, along the way she meets various people who need help. While they may appear to have strange and otherworldly problems, a lot of this is symbolic for real issues. Bunny Boy is trapped inside of a giant rabbit, but the real issue is that he’s addicted to a TV show and is letting it dominate his life. Perm Girl has insane hair that is controlling actions for her, but really she’s just a girl who’s way more concerned about her outward appearance than how she acts. The story is smart, focused on its message and provided a heartwarming little tale to get me through the game.
This is good, since the gameplay is hit or miss. Murasaki Baby is controlled using only the touchscreen, rear touchpad, and sometimes the built in gyroscope. To get Baby to move you have to actually hold her hand using the touchscreen and lead her forwards. It’s neat at first, but I realized later that this means that I was constantly blocking a good chunk of the screen with my hand. I also found this to be unwieldy: sometimes Baby wouldn’t take my hand, would let go randomly, or just never seemed to move as fast as I wanted her to.
A major part of the game involves helping Baby through dangerous environments. To do this I could change the background by swiping two fingers across the rear touchpad. Each level has four different backgrounds that has different effects when they’re up. One level I had a background that would freeze everything, while another saw the game, and characters, flip 180 degrees. I would have to utilize these backgrounds in creative ways to pass through puzzles. I will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of tying some of the backgrounds to the rather finicky rear touchpad, which I was really good at activating accidentally. Still, this wasn’t a problem I couldn’t deal with and I found solving Murasaki Baby’s various puzzles to be a lot of fun.
Yet Murasaki Baby begins to outstay its welcome. As the game proceeded the puzzles felt more like busywork to get to the next cutscene. I found myself to be getting more and more frustrated by the movement controls and starting to wish that the game just let me run and jump using the analogue sticks and face buttons. The puzzles never become so difficult that I couldn’t figure out a solution in a few minutes of serious thought, but they often seemed to require up to 10 minutes to actually enact said solution. Murasaki Baby’s charm continued to ooze out of its creepy artstyle, but the gameplay seemed to be doing everything within its power to get me to drop the game and never see it to its conclusion.
In the end that’s a bit of a shame. I loved Murasaki Baby’s art and story, but I found it difficult to actually play. If you can get it cheap then yeah, go for it. Murasaki Baby is at least unique enough that I doubt everyone will think the same thing of the game. Yet otherwise I’m not sure this puzzle game is really worth untangling.