When I first discovered Baba Is You it was through someone else describing a quick summary of the gameplay and I was instantly intrigued and needed to seek more information. As a fan of puzzle games, I was fawning over the concept of Baba Is You-– a uniquely crafted puzzle game that pits the player up against their own logic to solve each room based on a series of conditions that are determined in each level.
Baba Is You opens up quite simply explaining the basic fundamentals of how the game’s puzzle mechanics work– moving word blocks to create functions for objects located in each level. You control Baba– in most scenarios– the little white sheep who has the ability to move along the grid of each level and interact with word blocks and other tangible items located in the level. The introductory levels are cleverly constructed to push you towards the solution and getting you to understand the language that the puzzle speaks. The puzzle dynamics gave me similar feelings that The Witness did when it is teaching you the language and introducing new concepts the further you progress. All of the additions continue to build off of each other to create some mind bending solutions and interesting interactions especially the later parts of the game.
There are definitely some puzzles that are tough to solve and I feel as though the game tries to ramp the difficulty up incrementally and not just drop you into the insanity, but there were some moments that I felt stuck. The game tries to subvert this from happening with the way level progression works in each world. In order to journey to new worlds, you do not need to complete every level. Instead there are a set amount of levels you need to complete out of that world’s set to unlock access forward. This flexibility works well to not alienate players from finishing the game or traveling to the next world when they hit a puzzle that they cannot solve.
This balance must’ve been carefully curated in order to keep progression feasible and not a barrier to players. In the moments that I felt stuck and unable to complete the stages I had available it made me wonder if this was a downside to the game. If I had to list something negative about Baba Is You it would probably be this balance and that it could be unfair to some players. Outside of that, I feel as though Baba Is You succeeds in it’s mission of creating a smart, logic based puzzle game that is distinctively different and stands out amongst others in the genre.
The hand drawn art style and relaxing music coupled with the zen-like elation of puzzle solving deliver a transient experience. On some of the more difficult stages I would find myself zoning out to the sounds while trying to maneuver the puzzle solution in my head. I find that some of my favorite puzzle centric games either have music that allows me to vibe out and concentrate or an atmosphere and aesthetic that makes it pleasurable to exist in– Baba has both.
Baba Is You excels with is it’s simplistic charm, chilled out soundtrack, and truly rewarding experience of completing some of the more difficult stages down the line. With over 200 puzzles to solve it’s the perfect game to pop in and out of for twenty minutes at a time, or sit down and crank out some solutions when you’re in the groove. I’m looking forward to trying to complete every puzzle in the game and to discover what Arvi “Hempuli” Teikari comes up with next.
Baba Is You releases on Nintendo Switch and Steam March 13, 2019. For all things Baba Is You and everything indie keep it locked to Pass The Controller– and for a deep dive on all things video game and nerd culture related be sure to join our Discord server and listen to the Pass The Controller Podcast on your favorite podcast platform.