Murasaki Baby review: Wild world

Game Info
Platform PS Vita
Publisher Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer Ovosonico
Release Date

Muraski Baby is what I imagine parenthood to be: weird, uncomfortable and easier to do with both hands.

This strange little PlayStation Vita game is the debut of Ovosonico, a developer headed by Massimo Guarini of Killer7 and Shadows of the Damned fame. It’s a pedigree that practically demands oddity at every turn, and Murasaki Baby doesn’t disappoint. The game’s world thrives on the imagination and fears of the young, where the unusual becomes terrifying.

Muraski Baby is both a complicated escort mission and a visually appealing exploration of how the Vita’s touch capabilities can make for fun puzzles. But its intriguing concept is held back by its own childlike simplicity.

In Muraski Baby, my goal was to guide a frightened little girl with an upside-down face and wisps of curly hair through a world of bizarre obstacles. I did this by taking her hand and guiding her along, literally. I could only prod Baby to move with the Vita’s touch screen, tugging her hand and pulling with my finger or swiping to convince her to jump.

murasaki baby

Just like with a real child, I found myself grasping for her hand impatiently

Adapting to Murasaki Baby’s controls is made easy by its intuitive design. Yanking on Baby’s arm too fast will cause her to trip forward or tumble to the ground, but these moments were always matched by my own gut response — usually a moment of "whoops, I’ve pulled too hard." Moving in a hurry was more difficult for me, as Baby’s slim, black arm would sometimes seem to fade into the game’s darker backgrounds. Just like with a real child, I found myself grasping for her hand impatiently and with frustration as danger bore down on us.

murasaki baby

Baby herself cannot be harmed, but the purple, heart-shaped balloon she carries can be — if it pops, game over. Protecting that balloon felt like second nature in a short span of time, and it adds tension while keeping in tone with the game’s twisted fantasy. Killer safety pins are knocked out of the sky with a single tap, while sharp-footed enemies could be poked away or kept out of reach altogether. By holding the balloon with a finger and dragging it around the screen, I was able to efficiently maneuver it out of the way of branches, electricity and other dangers.

murasaki baby

However, a slip on my part was never a big deal. The game is quick to restart you close to, if not exactly where, your balloon popped. Every run in Murasaki Baby is a low-stakes mission where death can hardly even be called a nuisance — it’s a tiny misstep without any real consequence.

Puzzles, too, fell on the simple side. The trickiest instances involved me leading Baby while keeping her balloon protected, either by setting the Vita in my lap and using both hands or navigating with a thumb and forefinger. Occasionally Baby’s balloon will come into play in these puzzles, whether by acting as an anchor or a key, but it remained equally easy to manipulate; nothing is ever out of reach, whether in a mental or physical capacity.

The most taxing puzzles, and Murasaki Baby’s strongest offerings, involve swapping backgrounds. As I progressed through each level, I would find different colored balloons to burst. With each pop, I’d gain the power to use the Vita’s back touchscreen to pull the background away and replace it with one of a dominant color — orange, blue, green and so forth.

Every color heralded the arrival of some new, interesting ability. With the blue screen in play, I could tap the Vita’s back to make it rain and sail across a new area. The purple screen, a personal favorite, allowed me to cleverly redefine my gravity by flipping the Vita upside down and depositing Baby on the ceiling. Another smart twist arrived in the form of the green screen. After my balloon sprung a leak, I would tap to pump air back into the balloon and thereby keep myself alive.

In these moments of learning and playing with new abilities, I really enjoyed Murasaki Baby and its slightly unsettling world. Each bold new color didn’t just give me powers — it changed the very tone of my journey. A red screen made the grays and blacks of Baby’s world suddenly feel ominous, while reorienting my gravity to purple tones felt fun and adventurous. Physically guiding Baby kept me forcibly engaged throughout the entire game, but swiping at the Vita’s back screen provided the real excitement. It was a way for me to gain the upper hand over my environment with new power I could use to control the game’s world.

Each bold new color didn’t just give me powers — it changed the very tone of my journey
murasaki baby

But while these puzzles are satisfying when layered, they often fail to require any real thought. The way forward was usually easy enough to figure out with one screen, and guiding Baby calls for more patience than intelligence. Even in the game’s most difficult moments — for me, chasing down a balloon thief while attempting to keep the balloon safe from harm — I found that a single try or two was usually sufficient to move on.

Murasaki Baby gave me handfuls of interesting mechanics to play with, but it rarely put them to good use. It’s a short experience — only a few hours, feasibly completable in one sitting. That brief time in this world wasn't enough to properly utilize all of the powers I was given access to. Cool abilities were introduced and then used only a few times for specific scenarios. With each new world, I waited for the game to challenge me or force me to test my limits by using those skills creatively — and I found myself disappointed.

Wrap Up:

Murasaki Baby has more style than brains

For a game that puts you into the position of an adult, Murasaki Baby treated my intelligence like that of a child’s. It’s easy to love its bunny-shaped boogeymen and characters spouting gibberish on a surface level, but this stylistically stunning, inventive little game never quite grows up.

Murasaki Baby was reviewed using a PS Vita code of the game provided by Sony. You can find additional information on Polygon's ethics policy here.

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6.5 PS Vita