Murasaki Baby review: Take my hand
With each vocalization of how unsure she is, of how lost she feels in this unknown, creepy, Tim Burton-esque world, my heart breaks a little. I want to guide Baby along and keep her safe from the twisted things awaiting her on her journey to find her Mom. Every misstep of mine could lead to her demise, which makes every second more nerve-wracking. Run from something too quickly and she could stumble and fall, making me feel even worse.
This is what it’s like to be a parent. You can hold your child’s hand and guide them, but you’ll drive yourself nuts if you think you can protect them from everything.
In Murasaki Baby, that’s what you’ll try to do, though. It’s a game that’s like nothing I’ve ever played before. It’s an emotional experience that lasts four hours, but it’s one that, as a father of two boys, I can connect with.
There’s a few things that pull the game forward, the first being your fingers. Most of the game is controlled with the rear touchpad and the touchscreen. You’ll pull Baby along by holding her hand, pop flying needles, change backgrounds and manipulate them to traverse obstacles, and more. You’ll have to make sure nothing happens to the magenta balloon she holds in her hand -- which provides her comfort like a blankie would -- otherwise she, well, dies. All of the game’s puzzle-solving comes from changing background scenes and using their abilities. Whether it’s switching to an electric background to power something with lightning, or switching to a red one to scare away a monster when the background activates, Murasaki Baby has you apply what you’ve learned as you progress. Baby learns, as well. Though she’s trepidatious, she’ll learn and become a bit more brave over time, even doing actions like jumping over a hole by herself. My, how fast they grow up…
The next thing that drives the game is the art style. It’s a world made of childish nightmares and fantasies. I’ve heard the art style compared to Edward Gorey, and upon looking up his work, I can totally agree. There’s twisted designs with a hand-drawn quality to them, making the game appear as moving black and white sketches with deeply colored backdrops. The sounds of the game are also hauntingly beautiful. The the dramatic effect of thunderous guitar when called for, and sprinkles of piano to accompany the world. There’s no spoken dialogue, as all the emotion and story is delivered through cries, whimpers and whimsical expressions. Oddly enough, it works brilliantly. If there was real dialogue in this game, it would feel out of place.
The last thing that drives the game are the characters you’ll encounter and their stories. While you guide Baby from door to door, peeking her head in and calling out for her mom, you’ll go through lands that take on the theme of each child’s tragic situation they’re in. And there’s no greater feeling than solving their problems.
While playing Murasaki Baby in the office, I gasped every time something would happen to Baby. It’s a short game, which was noted by my co-workers, but that didn’t stop Journey from being a wonderful experience. It’s an incredibly difficult game to assign a score to, because it’s not typical. It’s not going to be for everyone. It has puzzles, but it’s not a strong, deep puzzle game. It’s atmospheric. It’s something you have to experience and see if it affects you in the end. It affected me. I was also asked if the reason I love the game so much is because I want a daughter. After I thought about it, that’s undoubtedly one of the reasons. Murasaki Baby brought forth those feelings and parental emotions, which only few games have done.
This was my experience. I’m not assuring you that it will be yours. But I loved every second of it.