Review – Baba is You

Puzzle games have always been one of my favorite genres, and I love exercising my mind by coming up with creative solutions to solve them. Although, I feel like many games rely on the same kinds of tricks and puzzle types as those that have been around for decades. Titles like The Talos Principle, The Spectrum Retreat, and Portal, have all found success by having a compelling narrative or dark humor to go alongside their puzzle focused gameplay. However, at the end of they day they still play very similarly; move this block over there, step on that pressure plate, or flip that switch. This is why I was so intrigued by Hempuli Oy’s Baba is You. It looked like no game I’ve ever seen before.

There is no story in Baba is You, just many levels of puzzles. Over two hundred levels in fact. The game is somewhat of a word puzzle game, although there’s much more to it than that. Baba, is a little white rabbit that you primarily control. You will use him to move around other objects and word blocks around the screen. Scattered throughout each level is a series of words grouped together in seemingly random ways. You’ll quickly learn however, that each set of word groupings affects that way Baba can interact with objects.

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Baba is thinking.

For example, if a cluster reads “ROCK IS PUSH”, then Baba will be able to push around any rock he encounters in that level. However, if there’s a body of water on screen, Baba will be unable to push the rock past the water. Instead, he can find a different verb block, like “FLOAT”, and move that to replace the “PUSH” block. Then the grouping will read “ROCK IS FLOAT” and it will be able to float over the water. This is one of the more simplistic solutions you’ll discover in Baba is You, but it’s probably one of the easiest examples to describe. This game really forces you to think outside the box, but that’s the main draw to the game. Often times the solutions are glaringly obvious only after you’ve been stuck on the same puzzle for way too long and come back to it after taking a break.

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This is the best valentine poem I’ve received this year.

The graphics are done in an 8-bit style and honestly, that’s all Baba is You needs to get its point across. Like I said, there’s no story or narrative, it is a straightforward puzzle game. The simplicity of the graphics ensure that nothing is taken away from the task at hand: solving the challenge.

There’s not much in the way of sound design either. The soundtrack is your standard electronic chip tune accompaniment to a classic 8-bit game. There’s no voice acting and the sound effects are very minimal. Pretty much what you’d expect to find in a game from the 80’s era. Once again though, it doesn’t need more than this since it is a game that is purely about pushing your mind to its limits.

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Figuring out how to manipulate the area around you is key.

Baba is You is a surprisingly fresh and unique entry into the puzzle genre. Its basic look is deceiving for how tough and clever most of the level designs are. I cannot express enough how highly addicting this game is. While I played it on my PC, it is also available for the Switch and honestly, I think that might be the better way to play if you have access to one. I’m not saying it doesn’t play well on a PC, I’m just saying that in addition to long play sessions, I would love to be able to play Baba is You on the go whenever I have a few spare minutes. It’s that fun. If you’re a fan of puzzle games that really force you to think unconventionally, then you absolutely need to play Baba is You.

 

Graphics: 7.0

The 8-bit art style is all that is needed for this type of game. Basic and cute.

Gameplay: 8.0

For the most part, you’ll control the rabbit, Baba, and use him to interact with the other objects and words onscreen. Changing the word strings affects the way the environment behaves.

Sound: 7.0

The simple chip tune soundtrack fits well with the older look and feel of the game.

Fun Factor: 10

I was shocked by how fun and strange this game is. It makes you think outside the box and gives you a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete a level. It’s insanely addicting.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Baba is You is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Baba is You was provided by the publisher.

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