Nothing is more rewarding than being stuck on something that just doesn’t seem possible, only to brilliantly solve the unsolvable and Baba Is You is a new puzzle game that is chock full of that moment over and over again. I have played many games but it has been a long time since I have experienced something as unique as this one. You play as Baba, a sheep whose main objective is to, in most levels, get to a flag to win. Super simple, right? Progress a few more levels and you will see this is not quite as simple.
The unique twist to this game is that each level’s rules are text objects that appear within the level. Those objects can be moved to create new sentences and new rules. For example, if you see the words “Wall Is Stop” together, you will be either trapped in or outside any areas that have a wall. But if you move the word “Stop” away from the others then the wall will no longer be a limiting factor and you can walk through any wall in the level. This creates an almost “play the game how you want” style to it but proves to be an extremely challenging aspect when more moving parts are added. Teleporters, moving robots, sinking water and locked doors. Oh my! You can expect all of these obstacles and more, all while trying to deal with the text objects that go along with each and take up space on the map.
The design for each level has a lot of thought put into it. Each problem to solve in the later levels seems very precise and yet at the same time, the game has a way of making you feel like you are breaking it with the out-of-the-box ways you must think. So far, I think my favorite example of this is winning by changing the text “Flag is Win” to “Baba is Win” and winning by default. However, where it really shines is on those harder levels, where you might spend 20 minutes spinning your brain saying “there is just no way!” and in some levels, I’m still not convinced there is. The levels are structured in such a clever way that each world plays into a certain theme that will teach you new tricks to add to your arsenal but still never gives enough away to make it obvious. As much as I am praising the challenge, I do sometimes wish for these end levels to have more of a clue or hint to help those out who are just really stumped. I don’t want to look up how to complete the levels because that takes all the fun out but I also have spent what feels like forever on some levels that a small push in the right direction would be appreciated.
The game does give some leeway in regards to completion even if you really can’t figure out some of these puzzles. Each world you travel to has a certain number you must solve to get an area complete mark. So if there is that one level you just can’t deal with, you can skip it as long as you get through the others. The end level can even be accessed after only completing three random worlds, showing that there is some understanding that not every world will be immediately completed. That being said, even after rolling the credits I’m still pushing through those tougher levels and enjoying getting that “Aha!” moment when I can finally solve these complex puzzles.
Visually it is very cute and cartoony. It seems at first glance that this would be a children’s game but the difficulty quickly shows that looks can be deceiving. I think this choice is fitting because it almost seems as if this is the imagination of a child. The concept seems like something a kid would come up with, simplified language and all. But then the child who grows up, looks at this simple drawing and brings that world to life. Maybe I’m looking way too much into this but all in all, it blends appropriately
I give Baba an 8.5 out of 10 or in Baba’s world, a Game Is Win.