Murasaki Baby Review

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Title: Murasaki Baby
Developer: Ovosonico
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 291 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: No

The PlayStation Vita’s library of exclusive games is grown and falling, depending on who you ask.  There’s a host of games available on the Vita, and only the Vita.  Some of these games have retail releases, like Demon Gaze, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Gravity Rush.  However, many other games are releasing only in digital form, like Run like Hell and Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment.  The digital age seems to be coming fast for Vita owners, and more titles are coming digital-only.

As far as digital-only titles, there are some very unique experiences on the PS Vita.  Not only games that are only available on the system, but experiences unlike anything you can find on any other system, at the moment.  Some developers are spawning and experimenting with new things, from Indies to others.  Just this past week, a unique experience did come to the Vita, published by Sony, themselves.

As we dive into the library of digital-only games, we take a look at that very game.  This was developed by a brand-new game studios known as Ovosonico.  Taking you into the world of hand-drawn visuals and an experience both horrific and cute, here is our official review of Murasaki Baby!

Story

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Murasaki Baby takes you to a world that looks like it was crafted by the likes of South Park and Tim Burton.  It is a very dark world, full of horrors.  Specifically, this world is made up of the fears and terrors of children.  From man-eating bunny monsters to giant tentacles that grow out of doors to flying paperclips flying to pop balloons, the various worlds of this game will show you a world very demented and dark.

The plot of this game revolves around the character known as “Baby”, adding a creepy yet cute factor to the rest of the game.  Baby is a young girl with an upside-down face and a heart-shaped balloon as her own personal companion.  One day, Baby wakes up and calls for her Mommy.  She receives no response, though.  Saddened and needing her mother, Baby ventures out into the world to find her, unknowingly walking into a world filled with terror and demented creatures.

The story of this game isn’t shown in scenes and dialogue, but more in actions and events.  Baby doesn’t make words other than “mommy” and violin-like sounds, and nor do the other characters she meets in her journey.

Gameplay

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As you play through the game, you will be guiding Baby throughout various 2D environments to get past enemies, traps, and solving puzzles to get her to her destination.  From the first level to the final level, you will be moving Baby across a side-scrolling environment whether you’re flying, fighting the wind, or jumping over gaps.

The game plays out in levels, though it is all shown through at the same time.  Like games like Metal Gear Solid, you don’t see anything to show that you’re in another level than the cleverly-designed loading screens that look like Baby is just walking through a hall into the next area.

The biggest factors of gameplay to watch out for are balloons.  Baby is carrying a purple, heart-shaped balloon with her.  This is her companion and is deeply connected to her.  This is heavily implemented into progression of the game, whether it be floating it into a wall to open doors to using it to move platforms.  The balloon also cannot be lost.  If the balloon floats away from her grasp or pops, there will be a large splatter of blood on the screen and you will get a Game Over.

Other balloons can also be found throughout the game that you can pop and use for yourself.  These are all in different colors, and can be used to completely morph the “mood” of the world around you.  Each of these also has effects that you will have to use to progress through the game.  This could be as simple as calling a snowstorm to freeze a stream to cross or as technical as manipulating gravity to move between platforms and turn the ceiling into a new floor.

All of these things use various parts and features of the PS Vita system, which is part of what makes this game so unique.  We will discuss it more in the controls section, but Murasaki Baby heavily uses the touch screen, rear touch pad, and the Six-Axis Motion features to do everything, from guiding Baby along to manipulating gravity and revealing new platforms to leap to and progress.

One last thing to note is that the game isn’t a terribly long experience.  While the game does add a mix of charm and creepy factors as you do play through each world and meet and help various characters, it won’t be for too long.  The game has 10 levels, and will likely only last you around 3-4 hours to complete.  The game also only has story-driven trophies, so beating the game once will net you every one of the game’s trophies.

Controls

The control functions of the game are both one of the unique parts of the game and one of the frustrating parts of the game.  As was told in the previous section, the game heavily uses the touch features of the PlayStation Vita.  The reality of the situation is, outside of one level when Baby is sleeping, you will not be using the buttons on the Vita to control this game at all.  It is almost exclusively touch and six-axis controls.

The touch screen is used to hold onto Baby’s hand as you guide her through the world.  It is also used to move the balloon, move and fight enemies and objects, among other things.  In many scenarios, more than one of these will have to be used at the same time, be it moving Baby and holding the balloon at a certain angle or moving her and fighting off enemies.  These situations can be adjusted to, but are very frustrating and can easily cause cramps as many require very fact reaction times, especially when using these and the rear touch panel.

The rear touch panel is also used a lot.  This will be used to swipe and cycle through the various moods that you can put the world into as well as using those effects, like snow, rain, or even making a Godzilla-sized monster move rocks from your path.  The last is the Six-Axis controls.  This will mostly be used to control gravity, turning the system upside down to shift gravity and use the ceiling as a floor and vice-versa.

All in all, the controls are incredibly difficult to remember.  However, they are very awkward and frustrating to try and get used to.  There are also some scenarios where you may need to press the rear touch panel several times before it will do what you want it to.  It’s doable, but is frustrating.

Presentation

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The visual presentation of Murasaki Baby is a very unique part of the game.  The world is crafted and drawn in a way that looks very nostalgic for animation.  The way everything looks is flowing and perfect, without any jagged edges to see anywhere.  It adds a lot to the horrific environment the developers are trying to portray, and it works well.  Every time something new and creepy pulls up, it causes a very freaky reaction.  It’s not enough to scare you, but enough to weird you out.

The audio presentation is also something worth noting.  The audio also adds to the environment and atmosphere, with tense, yet creepy noises and sounds from every turn.  More than that is that the ending theme song was composed by Akira Yamaoka, the composer famous for working on the music for the Silent Hill survival horror franchise.

How the game plays should also be addressed.  For the most part, the game plays well.  The Load Times are cleverly hidden as what looks like a scene of Baby moving to a new area.  They are also short and even reloading Auto-Saves are quick.  However, there are a few bugs in the game.  I found a few situations where the game was constantly giving “Could Not Save the File” error messages as well as the touch screen causing Baby to fall over instead of having her follow my finger.  These were fixed with a reboot, but still happened often.

 

Summary

Murasaki Baby is a very unique game that looks like it was taken straight out of Tim Burton and South Park, making a game that is both cute and creepy at the same time.  On the down side, the game is a short experience, the touch-only controls are very frustrating, and there are a few bugs to work out.  Apart from that, though, is a unique platforming experience that has a feel you will not find anywhere else.

7/10

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