Being a baby must be terrifying. Walking is difficult, everything is massive, and while you don’t know it yet – everything is dangerous. My daughter managed to bump her head recently after an altercation with – of all things – a cushion. At that moment all hell breaks loose, but turning to mummy will resolve all problems, guaranteed – or your money back.
Now imagine mummy is nowhere to be found, your head is on upside down, and you’ve awoken in a surrealist nightmare where everything has eyes, things that should have eyes have other things instead of eyes, there are mouths in the scenery and it is gloomily, impossibly dark. Welcome to Murasaki Baby!
Baby is adventurous and confident, but needs a little reassurance to start her search for mummy. Your duty as temporary guardian is to lead her around by the hand using the touchscreen, which is surprisingly similar to attempting to steer a real toddler in the right direction. Go too fast and she’ll stumble and fall; go somewhere she is afraid of and she’ll stop dead until you do something about it.
In her other hand is a purple, heart-shaped balloon. It’s Baby’s most prized possession, and as such, must be kept away from spiky things, pesky things, and spiky pesky things – else she will get more than a little upset with you.
On Baby’s journey, she’ll meet other characters, many of whom carry their own, differently-coloured balloons. Popping those balloons unlocks a new background panorama, and is where the meat of Murasaki Baby’s puzzling occurs. Swiping the rear touchscreen will switch between these panoramas, and tapping the rear touchscreen will trigger a unique effect.
What the balloons do and how to utilise them is rarely explained, so figuring this out is a journey of discovery where you both learn how to get by in this unfamiliar world. Puzzles usually involve traversing inhospitable terrain or avoiding spiky, balloon-popping hazards, as well as meeting strange characters with their own personal obstacles to overcome. You’ll screw it up at times, as even virtual parenting isn’t easy; the first time is a lesson learned, but subsequent failures made me feel awful. Nobody likes upsetting babies!
While sometimes your failure as a parent is to blame, at times keeping on top of things can sometimes involve superhuman feats of dexterity – managing Baby and her balloon on the front touchscreen, switching and activating panoramas on the back touchpad, changing the orientation of your PS Vita… the developers also recommend that you use earphones while playing Murasaki Baby, and not yanking those out becomes an accidental part of the puzzle too.
Clocking in at a couple of hours in total, Murasaki Baby doesn’t hang around. New ideas are introduced, expanded on, and then discarded without a second thought; navigating through the nightmare is a constant journey of experimentation and discovery, not to mention stressful and manic when something goes wrong.
None of the stress matters in the end, though. All that you care about is getting Baby back to mummy, and the excited grinning and hopping she does after you navigate a tricky segment together is worth every moment of frustration along the journey.