I’m about to show you a trailer. 20 seconds into that trailer, I imagine you’ll have some kind of reaction. Maybe you’ll crack a grin. Maybe you’ll make a soft, cooing noise of appreciation. Maybe your mouth will drop open as you gasp, your mind reeling with all the possibilities that one simple game mechanic presents.
However you react, I bet you’ll decide that Baba Is You is a puzzler you want to play.
So, Baba Is You is a puzzle game where the rules for each level are written into the play space itself. Physically pushing those rules around changes them, allowing you to walk through walls, become a rock, or change what you need to reach in order to beat a level.
I was a gasper, myself. There’s something so alluring about the way you can mess with the game’s rules in such a simple, elegant way. I love the idea of trying to do increasingly complicated things with that setup, as with that pan out to the individual bits controlling that space invaders style arcade game. I was still recovering from having my mind blown back at the start of the trailer, so I went back and paused the video on that screen. “Love is Poof and Move”, it says, making this the first time I’ve seen a sentence written in a video game that’s both a reconfigurable game mechanic and a salient poetic statement.
Creator Hempuli Oy says the full version of Baba Is You will come out in summer 2018, but the original version was created for the 2017 Nordic Game Jam. Which it won, obviously. The original is pay what you want on Itch.io, with a $2.00 suggested donation. It’s got 13 levels, while the full release will contain over 100.
I’ve been alternating between writing this post and bashing my head against the fourth level, where the victory flag is behind some lava. I’ve tried turning my head into a rock, but ‘rock is you’ doesn’t invalidate the ‘lava is kill’ rule that I can’t mess with because it’s written against the bottom wall.
Aaaand I’ve just realised that was a misdirect. Oh, this is a clever little thing. Go play it.