Baba Is You
Reviewed by Nindie Josh
Developed By: Hempuli
Published By: Hempuli
Release Date: March 13, 2019
The puzzle genre features many different types of experiences and about every game has a style that is right for you. However, in order to make something truly special in this genre it needs to be able to test the mind and push it to its limits. One problem within the puzzle genre nowadays is that they’re all very similar with many falling back on the Tetris style of gameplay. Fortunately, we have developers like Hempuli who have crafted an amazing original puzzle experience in Baba Is You for the Nintendo Switch.
Baba Is You functions more like a trying to figure out a puzzle room, where you must figure out a solution to get to a specific goal item, usually a flag. The real puzzle though, is trying to form a certain combination of words in order to complete a certain goal. It is a really unique puzzle game where the entire objective centers around pushing words together to form sentences that affect the whole level itself.
One thing I commend Baba Is You for is making it feel like you are some sort of computer coder, only the experience of coding is fun to try and figure out. You’ll try to match statements like Baba is You or Wall is Stop and can mix and match any words you see available. These affect the world in exactly the way described, such as if the Wall is Stop nothing passes through it, but if you were to make Wall is Push instead then suddenly the wall can be pushed. You could also just remove the verb from the statement and make the Wall a non-interactive object that Baba can freely pass through.
I found that Baba Is You is extremely clever in how it uses these words and sentence structures to solve puzzles and produces some real “Aha!” moments when this is achieved. There is no story in Baba Is You; you are Baba, except when you are Rock or when you are a Key, Wall, etc. This bizarre premise is how you go to locations and solve the puzzles places before you.
With the presentation, Baba Is You has a somewhat somber feel, even with the lighthearted and calming soundtrack. The graphics wave back and forth and create this dreamlike atmosphere, although this can be turned off in the options. The few music tracks are also trance-inducing and weird in a satisfyingly peculiar fashion. They do a good job of pulling you into the game and helping you concentrate on the tasks at hand. It is certainly a unique and simple style, which works for the simple, yet complex puzzles you’ll try to solve in Baba Is You.
Baba Is You is simple and complex all at the same time with early puzzles being straightforward and teaching you the basic premise of matching words. The general concept is easy to grasp, however, later puzzles and requirements to solve them are much too difficult at time and ridiculous in execution. New words and criteria are introduced and expanded on constantly to keep players entertained and the mental gymnastics that are required for some of these puzzles are on a whole other level of though process.
While the difficulty of some puzzles left me scratching my head emphatically, the lack of any kind of explanation for what these words do was very confusing at times. Often the text is self-explanatory, if something is Win then that means it’s the goalpost and if something is defeat then touching it is death. However, later on some of the text doesn’t seem to have any kind of obvious use, even after it felt like I tried every possible option. That there is no hint system is a missed opportunity I feel that will lead to some unneeded frustration and looking online for solving certain puzzles.
You are expected to figure these solutions out yourself which is fine most of the time, but it left me feeling exhausted after taking upwards of 30 minutes in one level trying every possible combination and seemingly left me with no results. I came to the conclusion that Baba Is You is too hard for its own good, but despite this inconvenience I still thought the game was one of the best puzzle titles I’ve ever played.
Overall, Baba Is You will not dazzle you in the graphical or musical departments, but what you have here is a truly unique puzzle experience that can be immensely rewarding and deeply frustrating at the same time. It is genuinely challenging and I felt great satisfaction whenever I solved a puzzle. There is a brilliantly unique concept here that is expanded onto levels I wasn’t expecting and with hours of content to figure out you will certainly be rewarded.