Baba Is You is a borderline genius new puzzle game

Posted on March 22, 2019

Baba Is You is an exciting and brilliant new addition to the puzzle game genre. It’s a newly released title for PC, Mac, Linux and Switch that provides hours of entertainment for puzzle game lovers. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good amount of time being perplexed by the game’s intriguing challenges and I can safely say that Baba Is You is a novel, refreshing, and borderline genius video game.

Within the first few puzzles you’ll understand how Baba Is You manages to differentiate itself from the games that came before it and present something unique and captivating. The game opens with what is often a simple set of rules, a simple goal, and no possible way to achieve victory. That is until you realise that the rules can be shifted and the properties through which the game operates can change altogether. If the game presents you with the phrase “wall is block”, then you won’t be able to move your character through the wall. If you push the word “block” away from the rest of the words, then the wall’s properties change and you can now pass through it. Once you realise how many different combinations can be made and how many different properties can impact different props, you begin to see how this game can manage to be so puzzling.

Baba Is You operates at its best when it is able to present players with a “wow” moment. A moment when all of the pieces slot perfectly into place and you change up the game in a way you weren’t previously capable of comprehending. Creating strings of rules can entirely change any one puzzle from where it begun to where it ends. Nothing is safe or constant, which means every new puzzle can perplex you in a new way. Even the name of the game isn’t safe, as you quickly realise that Baba isn’t always you, perhaps Baba needs to be “wall” or “lava”.

Taking a quick glimpse at the game may be misleading. I have to admit, Baba Is You has visuals that look like they were made in MS Paint by a child. Believe it or not, I say that in the nicest way possible. Baba┬áIs You is clearly designed to look rough yet readable. The game is hugely charming and the simplistic visual design not only adds to that charm but it also means nothing gets visually convoluted or confusing. It also means that things feel a bit less silly when you combine the words “Wall Is You” and an entire structure made of walls begins moving around the play area being controlled by the player.

Ultimately the game is just clever. It’s a novel idea that I’ve never seen implemented quite this way before. Many puzzles you come across can be solved in different ways which I realised after watching my partner replay the same puzzles I’ve already completed. Each person can think about any given puzzle differently and that’s a hugely impressive feat for a game that still manages to remain so tight and well paced.

Baba Is You is genuinely impressive. Changing the rule set of the game as you play is a powerful and compelling tool. Just don’t ever move the words “Baba Is You” away from each other without replacing them with something else, or you’ll run into an untimely and existential demise. The game is available now on PC, Mac, Linux and Switch.