Murasaki Baby is a strange little beast, a puzzle-platformer developed by Italian studio Ovonsonico exclusively for Sony’s Vita platform. It’s a game that is as unique as you will find, with a tone that feels like the love child of Tim Burton & Lewis Carroll with the colour palette of an old sketched children’s book.
Our little protagonist ‘Baby’ as she is known is quite unlike anything else out out there. She is a seemingly malformed nightmare child that wouldn’t seem out of place in Alice in Wonderland or a Brothers Grimm tale. She also has a lot of personality for a character with no actual dialogue. I love how her expressions can be just as strong through the eyes and little gasps or garbled noises she makes.
The premise is simple, we must guide ‘Baby’ back home, aided only by our little love heart balloon and itchy trigger fingers on the Vita’s touchscreen. Murasaki Baby utilises the Vita’s touchpad in such a fantastic way, you won’t control anything in this game by the D-pad or right buttons, and it works flawlessly. You guide Baby literally by holding her hand with your index finger through each level. You help her jump over ledges, tap out enemies as well as flip between backgrounds that drastically change the game’s dynamic with the Vita’s rear touchpad . This is a puzzle platformer through and through with each background we flip causing different things to appear or creating new actions that can be performed. For instance, jumping between ledges may require quick flicks of the touchpad to create new ledges and a sharp memory to remember which background will create our next step. Everything from causing thunderstorms to controlling a huge beast to wreak havoc with mini earthquakes are present, and this creates a really cool dynamic in the game, especially when all these elements begin to intertwine later in the game.
Director Massimo Guarini (Shadows of The damned, Killer7) nails a truly unique setting and atmosphere. The theme of protector is strong, and as a player you genuinely feel compelled to help guide Baby back to safety through the dark surroundings and shadows that linger around her. It’s also a land of enemies and sights that remind me of what scared me as a child and I really love how the game struck a chord like that for me , even if it is a creepy one.
Another standout feature of the game is the unsettling, yet intricate score by Gianni Ricciardi and Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka. It is tense, dark and foreboding and superbly supports the tone and sense of immersion. Like a lot of cool indie games of late (Child of Light, Journey and Hohokum spring to mind) it is a better score than most AAA games on the market right now. Overall, Murasaki Baby is a little indie gem for Sony’s underrated handheld. It’s a game that feels like director Guarini has left it’s underlying themes of loss and despair up to individual interpretation. It certainly hit me in a personal way and I’m sure it will for you too.