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Murasaki Baby Review


The world of a youngster can be a frightful place, with new sights and sounds constantly barraging their keen senses, parents keeping them close whenever they can to protect them; but at night it is a time when kids are truly alone, and that is when the monsters know when to come out.

Murasaki Baby starts off with a young girl asleep in bed, awakened by a strange noise from her cupboard she investigates, only to be transported to a weird and surreal dreamlike world. She is not alone here, otherworldly characters follow her, chasing and scaring her even more. Very early on the game plays interesting tricks on the player, as even though Baby is freakish (her mouth is on her forehead), just like Tim Burton’s animations, there is a hint of cuteness and innocence that charms you. This means that very early into the game you'll be wishing to care for her rather than beat her with a stick. The player’s role in the game is that of a guardian, guiding Baby across the many worlds and hopefully to safety, with Baby all the while looking lost, scared and occasionally shouting for her mommy. Rather than having direct control over the balloon wielding youngster who will just stand on the spot if left alone, you interact directly with her, requiring you to use the touchscreen to hold her hand and lead her to safety, with gentle pulls trying to move her across the platforms, though don’t pull too hard as this little lass will trip over. 



As you lead her through the beautifully drawn but maddening nightmare-like levels there will be many obstacles to overcome. Early on you have caves full of sets of eyes peering out that she will refuse to walk through; although simply swiping the nearby light source to illuminate the waygets you past them. You'll also use a similar technic for fending off flying nappy pins by tapping the screen to stop them bursting her heart balloon, which if burst will result in a trip back to the last waypoint. The interactivity with the world also goes a little deeper with the player able to change the environment. When Baby comes across one of the inhabitants, be it a half-eaten child whose head is still poking out of the monster that ate him or the young girl with possessed hair, each also hold a heart balloon similar to Baby and by popping them they grant new powers, triggered by swiping the rear touchpad. Depending on your location, each swipe will change the environment, adding a little colour to the creepy monochrome world and making them even more sinister, but no matter how scary they are they all have a purpose to progress through the levels from creating a storm by tapping the rear touchpad, switching to a dark world with a giant heart that when tapped causes your balloon to turn to stone, using a blue world that can freeze water to the even more surreal like a huge green eyeball that causes baby to shrink or the TV shows that keep a certain beast entertained as you sneak past them. 



Each world is very simple in its presentation with classic platforms to negotiate, Baby doing all of the jumping without command and then patiently waiting for you to work out the many puzzles, with solutions in the latter levels requiring quick timed shifts between environments and finger knotting multi-touch points on the Vita's touch pads.

Murasaki Baby has been made with the Vita in mind and it really shows, with the visuals looking fantastic on the screen and incorporating many of the consoles unique interactive controls like the touch pads and gyros, however the game also comes across some of the consoles shortcomings, mainly in the touch screen department as at times it can become a serious hindrance, becoming fiddly, especially when using two fingers at once with your hands obscuring the screen and making it hard to navigate and on occasion, fall foul to the many environmental hazards. The touch screen can also be at times a little unresponsive, Baby often refuses to move or offer her hand and this is were serious frustration ensues. The version we tested however is a review code, so some of these issues may be fixed and if not, you soon learn tricks to be solve these issues and thankfully the restart point is not too punishing.

Murasaki Baby is one of those games that is more of a visual and audio treat rather than an overall gaming experience, with wonderfully drawn worlds and characters and a soundtrack that adds even more tension and surrealism to the world in front of you. Murasaki Baby turns out to be quite short, but even once you have reached the end, for the majority of time it would have been an enjoyable and original experience.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS Vita)

Pros

+ Original gameplay elements.
+ An eerie soundtrack that perfectly complements the game.

Cons

- Touch screen controls do not always work.
- Quite short.

Edited On 16 Sep, 2014

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