Murasaki Baby

An affecting exploration of trust and responsibility where the puzzles frequently complement the twisted narrative.

Murasaki Baby review

RecommendedMurasaki Baby review

Sweet child of mine.

Early childhood is a daunting time, full of unfamiliar experiences, bewildering potential and the very real possibility that there are monsters living under the bed. Murasaki Baby neatly encapsulates all of these characteristics, along with the notion that childhood is when most parents stand as infallible bastions of safety and comfort. As such, your overarching goal is to reunite Baby with her mother, but that's a bit like saying that the point of Journey is to reach the top of a mountain.

Over the course of two and a half hours, this puzzle-platformer goes on to explore parenthood, trust, responsibility and the wrenching realisation that, try as you might, you cannot always keep a child safe from harm. It's affecting but it's also more than a little odd; screenshots will tell you that much but they can't fully convey just how effective Baby's journey is at simultaneously eliciting feelings of protectiveness and bemused unease.

While Murasaki Baby's thematic identity is constantly reaffirmed by these concepts, its mechanical nuts and bolts are inextricably tied to the Vita's unique features and so are occasionally liable to minor hiccups. Guiding Baby by the hand is simply a matter of reaching out via the touch-screen and leading her around as she takes her first tentative steps in a world that has been pulled from some half-remembered fever dream. She can be made to walk or run, but over-stretch her peculiarly elastic arm and she'll tumble to the ground. Then, as she picks herself up, dusts down her small dress and laughs nervously when you reach for her hand once more, you feel sufficiently guilty for making her fall and pledge to do better in future. It's here that the game feels most like an Edward Gorey illustrated guide to parenting.

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The smart clumsiness of Murasaki Baby

One of the Vita's genuinely unique offerings is also its most strange.

The Vita's not short of unique experiences you can still find elsewhere; the highlights of its back catalogue, games like Spelunky and OlliOlli, can be found on PC and console, even if they feel more at home on Sony's handheld. Games designed around the many quirks of the Vita, though, are in much shorter supply, and Massimo Guarini's forthcoming Murasaki Baby joins a very select group that have actually figured out a use for the handheld's rear touchpad.

The human touch: the brilliance of Murasaki Baby

The Vita's latest addition marks a change of direction for Shadow of the Damned's creator.

It is, many people will tell you, one of the finest pieces of design in videogames. Ico's power, its emotional impact, comes through a world of minimalist fantasy and a relationship delicately painted, but it all truly comes together in one feature: the gentle tug between Ico and Yorda, and the simple thud of the Dual Shock as you pull her along.