If you took the Tim Burton we all knew and loved from twenty years ago, gave him a PlayStation Vita and told him to design a game for it, then he’d probably have no idea what you were talking about and would be much more interested in the time vortex you’d emerged from. However, staying within the narrative of the scenario, he might come up with something like Murasaki Baby.
Murasaki Baby is a very odd, very unique looking game. It’s 3D, but the character models and environments are presented in a sketch-like fashion, almost like Freak Out back on the PS2. The game is tailor-made for the Vita, completely using the touch controls on the screen and the rear touch pad. Even with the simple controls, upon starting the game it’s not immediately obvious what you have to do. The Murusaki Baby appears, with her weird upside-down face and that crooked smile, and you’re left wondering how to start the game. After swiping every which way and feeling very dumb, the game’s composer, on-hand at E3, pointed out that I should just try holding her hand. So, I started to drag the Murasaki Baby’s hand away, only to have it snap back into place after dragging it too far – to progress in the game, you have to treat the Baby like an actual baby, and be gentle. Slowly and carefully, you have to guide her along the path ahead, taking baby steps and being careful not to stretch her arm too far.
As you move from left to right, you encounter various obstacles and characters. One is a small boy with an even weirder face, who the Baby occasionally comes across and seems to be pursuing. You’ll also come across holes in the ground which the Baby will have to jump across, this time by swiping the screen a little more confidently than before. The Murasaki Baby also has a balloon with her, which is another item you have to manage as separating her from her balloon, or having it burst results in a crying fit and a restart from the last checkpoint.
Power-ups you find along the way allow you to change the background of the game, from green to orange to red and so-on. Each colour has its own theme, so for instance one colour is filled with horrific tentacles, while another has a graveyard in the background. Changing these by flicking the rear touch-pad allow you to affect the events in the foreground, such as using the graveyard to startle or scare the Baby and everything else on-screen, to overcome certain obstacles.
I wish I’d had more time to check out Murasaki Baby, but from what I played it’s definitely an indie title to look out for with its cool sound design, strange visuals and unique way of interacting with the protagonist. Look out for it on the PlayStation Store in September this year.