Baba Is You is a puzzle game that gives player the ability to manipulate the rules of the puzzle itself to solve the puzzle. Baba Is You also won the Excellence in Design and Best Student Game awards in the Independent Games Festival 2018, and was nominated a finalist in two other categories, including the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
Elemental Tetrad (Lens 9)
- Rules: puzzle games usually come with a set of rules to dictate what the players can do. In Baba Is You, rules of the level is presented as movable blocks, which the player can modify and manipulate to win the level. To explain the mechanics better, we have to look at one of the levels. In the first level, as seen in the photo above, you can see four distinct rules on the screen. By conventional puzzle game logic, you might be inclined to move right to push the rock to get to the flag. However, if you take a closer look at the borders of the level, you can see that there is actually more space for you to move about. The rules themselves are movable blocks which you can manipulate to form rules like ‘ROCK IS WIN’ or dismantle existing rules, thus changing the win condition itself.
- Controls: The game has a very simplified control scheme, with four buttons for movement, one for undo and another for wait. The wait button might seem to be quite useless but it acts as a mechanic to solve future levels. It is very satisfying to undo movements when the player almost got the solution but took a slightly wrong path.
- World design: The overworld is split up into different worlds, some of which are gated to ensure the player understands the more basic rules before trying levels with a higher difficulty. Each world has a theme and introduces new words like ‘NOT’ and ‘HAS’. Within each world, the first few levels act as a mini tutorial to help the player understand the new words.
- I like the simple and cartoony graphics of the game, but I dislike the ‘wobble’ effect. Fortunately, the options allow me to toggle the effect. The music is calm and subtle, which goes great with the puzzling gameplay.
- There is no story in this game, and that is fine because the unique selling point of the game is its mechanics.
- The game has simple controls and is not graphically intensive. Available on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Lens of Curiosity (Lens 6)
- When playing the game, I always ask myself if an action is possible or a rule make sense. The game makes it easy to try out the different possibilities due to the compact size of every level and the ease of undoing undesirable actions.
- The mixture of rules often lead to funny and unexpected outcomes. For example, if ‘KEKE HAS BABA’, ‘BABA HAS KEKE’ and ‘BABA AND KEKE IS YOU’, I become invincible because if Baba kills itself, Keke will appear as it ‘broke free’ from Baba and vice versa.
Lens of Problem Solving (Lens 8)
- Most levels contain fixed rules that cannot be changed, and they are strategically positioned at the corners of the level which the player cannot manipulate. This forces the player to work with a small set of rules sometimes to get the desired outcome.
- There are some unspoken rules to the game, like if ‘ROCK IS NOT MOVE’ is already present, forming the rule ‘ROCK IS MOVE’ does not negate the effect of the first rule. This is shown visually by the crossing out of the two rules and the prompt to undo the move.
- The game contains over 200 handcrafted levels, and the developer has stated on his blog that he is working on a future expansion for a level creator, which the players themselves can create new levels to challenge one another.
Lens of Challenge (Lens 38)
- Despite some mind-blowingly hard levels, the game is scaled well. The game always provide mini tutorials when it introduces new words to help the player understand the mechanics and slowly build up from there.
- It is easy for new players to play the game. I often ask my friends for help when I get stuck on levels. Even though they might not have heard of the game before, after explaining the core mechanics of the game, most of them understood and were able to help me.