Baba, a sheep-like creature and star of the 2019 indie darling Baba Is You, doesn’t know how to read or write. This is a problem because, as it turns out, Baba needs to do some important paperwork! In the joke-turned-game, Baba Files Taxes, you’re tasked with helping the armless critter file his taxes. The short game is an exercise in confusion, and really the best way to emotionally prepare for the absurdity of the upcoming 2023 tax season.
The game is available to play for free now on Windows PC. It’s created by Hempuli, the original developer behind the mind-bending push puzzle game Baba Is You. You don’t need anything special to play it other than a functional mouse, and it can be completed in around 10 minutes (if you take your time).
As it turns out, Baba is a bit of a procrastinator because Baba has waited to file until the deadline later that night. Before we begin, we have to make a “very important decision” for Baba: We must choose which color ink to use to fill out the forms. I went with the rainbow-color pen, which I’m sure some fictional government bureaucrat will love.
As you play, you take on the role of Baba’s legal “responder” and fill out a form that looks like it was created in MS Paint. The form is peppered with fancy and funny legalese like “herefrom,” and lists of useless definitions of words like “Thing” and “Stuff.” The stakes of the game are high because as we read, “Any inaccuracies present in a submitted B-48A form are grounds for legal being taken against Responder.” As you go through, you basically play the game by filling out the form, and signing Baba’s name for it several times.
I won’t betray the central conceit of the game — that’s something you’ll have to experience for yourself. But it’s a cute and quick play for those who want to laugh about the absurdity and nonsensical nature of modern bureaucracy.
The game reminds me of other beloved and indie goofs, like Frog Fractions. Which was a larger game hidden inside a seemingly innocuous math game directed at kids. Frog Fractions has an entire section where you literally help your frog navigate bug court and obtain a work visa by answering a set of extremely arbitrary questions. Baba Files Taxes similarly clowns on the absurdity of these systems with a humorous tone and gameplay.
Baba Files Taxes comments on a nearly universal struggle. Filing taxes is one of the most regular and unending puzzles of modern life. Every year, we collectively sit down to stare down a stack of papers and ask ourself the age old question: If the U.S. government knows how much we owe, why do we need to figure it out for ourselves? It’s all a game anyways, and now you can play it with Baba.