Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Choice Stopgame

Relevant for platform: NSW

Last year at the IGF 2018 Independent Games Festival, Baba Is You not only won the awards for best student project and best design, but could have won the main prize if Night in the Woods hadn’t beaten it. Fans of indie creations immediately became interested in this strange puzzle, and the subsequent announcement of the Switch version attracted even more attention to it. And for good reason – if when watching the trailer it seems to you that this is something special, then when you pass, you will admire even more often.

New word

Baba Is You is a bit like The Witness, where the same mechanics are used for several dozen hours. But the conditions are always different, as well as the ways to solve the riddles. In The Witness, it seems that all you do is draw stripes on the plates, trying to connect one circle to another. At the same time, a large open world is divided into regions with unique scenery, somewhere you need to look at puzzles from a different angle, somewhere you need to move them in different directions, secrets are hidden everywhere that you can’t see at close range at first.

Baba Is You is arranged in much the same way, although the idea in it is completely different. Here you are not drawing labyrinths, but moving objects and words around the screen. A solution that helped you pass one level may not be suitable for the next due to some new condition. New opportunities and limitations are constantly emerging, time after time you want to give up, because it is not clear what they want from you and how it can be solved at all. And then, when you take a break and return in the morning, you solve the riddle the first time and wonder how you didn’t guess such an elementary solution before.

The game is completely built on the compilation of phrases from several words scattered around the screen. Usually they are connected by the verb is, without which the object does not have a characteristic. For example, water is sink means that a character who steps on a cell with water will sink, as well as objects that fall there. Baba is you indicates that in this level you are in control of a sheep-like creature, here referred to as a baba. At some levels, there may be a robot is you condition – then you become a robot.

Sometimes you have to change the main character to solve the puzzle. Instead of the word baba, put cog or key – and voila, now you can control the gear or key. Later, the union and appears, thanks to which it is possible to build phrases in the spirit of wall and door is stop – this means that you cannot pass through walls and doors, they serve as an obstacle and do not allow you to leave the room. To cancel this rule, it is enough to shift the word is or stop, depriving the phrase of its meaning. Ultimately, it is necessary to fulfill the condition ending with the words is win. If it is flag is win, you need to touch the flag, if skull is win – to the skull.

Baba Is You game review

The conditions in the upper left corner cannot be changed.

Word and deed

Of course, no one gives unlimited freedom here, otherwise the riddles would have dozens of solutions and there would be no question of any complexity. Very often, some conditions are placed in the far corner, so it is simply impossible to move them and remove some words. Often they are hidden behind walls or pipes, but sometimes they are not surrounded by anything – it is possible to bring an interjection and a characteristic to a noun in order to achieve some new effect. After all, sentences work both vertically and horizontally – using one word baba, you can construct the phrases baba is you and baba is float, and then the lamb you control will fly above the ground and be able to move freely over dangerous objects.

Each level impresses with the original use of mechanics. It seems that you have already figured out everything, you know what phrases do what, but suddenly you are thrown a new interjection or noun, and you have to play by completely different rules. It will no longer be possible to turn a woman into a key, make a wall automatically move, or destroy a crab with a couple of movements, which is defeat. Therefore, the game does not get bored – you never know what got into the head of its creator. Perhaps there will be a small level where there is really nothing to move. Perhaps it will be a large area with ten words, a key, a door, an additional character and dangers.

Difficulties will start to arise pretty quickly. Everything, of course, depends on your intelligence and luck, but after about the 15th riddle, you will no longer finish the levels on the third or fifth attempt. You will have to carefully look at the screen, think over a plan of action, study what and where you can move, whether the walls will interfere, whether the logic will be violated. A decision that seems stupid can lead to success, and sometimes the player starts to get smart when everything is actually much simpler and requires much less action. Every time you see the inscription “Congratulations”, you are glad that you did not give up.

The cleverest

It’s probably not worth saying that going through this kind of game with hints is a bad idea. Baba Is You encourages experimenters for their attempts to combine words in different ways in order to achieve victory on their own and be pleased with themselves. The level is restarted with a couple of clicks, and actions can be canceled with one button, rewinding time back. You will certainly encounter problems and seemingly unsolvable puzzles, but the developer foresaw this and thought out a user-friendly structure.Baba Is You game review

Eyes run wide, but you need to focus.

Two hundred puzzles are scattered here over several worlds. To gain access to a new world, it is enough to solve only a part of the riddles, and when you complete a level, not one neighboring one is usually unlocked, but two or even three. So, if you get stuck somewhere, there is no need to suffer – you can do another episode and return to the previous one later. Although it is also impossible to abandon everything halfway, new locations on the map simply will not open. In addition, some episodes have complicated versions – they look identical, but one condition has been changed there or a word has been removed, which makes it impossible to go through them using exactly the same methods.

First of all, Baba Is You impresses with how much it differs from all other games, how original it is. It is simply impossible to find its analogue, especially among the novelties of recent years. Moving puzzles have been around since the days of Sokoban on the Commodore 64, but it’s not just about pushing boxes around trying to get out of a maze. In this game, all objects have a purpose, which can often be completely changed. This is not just an innovative idea that gets boring after an hour – this is an impressive set of 200 dissimilar levels, the features of which you learn by experience, and not by reading tips and going through training.

The game is available only in English, because when translated, the phrases would lose their logic, and even without cases (if we talk about a potential Russian version), everything would become even worse. However, you should not bypass it if you know English at a very basic level – the words here are very simple, and you just need to look into the translator a few times to immediately understand what each word is responsible for and what should be expected from it.

We turn water into skulls with a couple of movements.

***

Despite the originality and quirkiness, Baba Is You is not destined to win a large audience – it will not be nominated for the game of the year, and the foreign press was not at all interested in it before the release, despite the very prestigious awards. Although in terms of gameplay, we probably won’t see anything more innovative and unusual before the onset of January, Baba Is You will remain for many “a cool indie that someone somewhere heard about”. However, just hearing about it is not enough – it is advisable to try it yourself and advise your friends to solve puzzles together, share experiences and be surprised at the possibilities.

Pros: innovative idea; riddles always require a different approach; a huge number of possibilities; a convenient structure that allows you not to stay too long on one difficult level; about two hundred unique puzzles.

Cons: constantly hints that the player is not as smart as he thinks he is.

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