Review: Murasaki Baby (PSV)

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Title: Murasaki Baby
Format: PlayStation Network Download (284 MB)
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Ovosonico
Original MSRP: $14.99 / $11.99 (PlayStation Plus first week only)
ESRB Rating: E
Murasaki Baby is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Gameplay:
In Murasaki Baby you control a little girl, Baby, who is trying to find her mommy. You use the Touchscreen and Rear Touch Pad to control not only Baby, but also the heart shaped balloon she is carrying as well as the background. You control Baby by holding her hand and leading her across the levels, just be careful not to go too fast or she will fall over. I hate to be so vague in my description not only here but also in the rest of the review, but the Murasaki Baby really needs to be experienced and not described too much.

As you play through the game you will be able to discover different backgrounds which allow you to interact with the foreground in different ways. While the game does a great job of showing you how to use the function of the backgrounds, there is a lot experimentation in how to solve any of the puzzles you face. I never really felt like I was punished for exploring the advantages of one background over the other.

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As you guide Baby along her journey you must not only protect her but also her balloon, which are both controlled by the Touchscreen. The Rear Touch Pad controls the backgrounds and their effects. The Vita can also be rotated to affect things. Outside of that none of the other buttons do anything, with the exception of one Level that uses the Thumb Sticks. The touch controls worked well and in fact made me feel more connected to the game.

Having said that I wish that it gave you the option to flip the controls as far as which screen controlled what. The precise level of control needed for Baby was a little hampered by my hand being in the way of the screen. Now I do have large hands so not everybody will run into this issue, but if I could control Baby with the rear touch pad and the backgrounds with the touchscreen it would have made the game perfect. Also, when the rotating of the Vita I would sometimes accidentally touch the back of the screen and either cause an effect I didn’t want or switch the background. Again I have large hands so you might not encounter this issue.

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Visuals:
I don’t even know how to fully explain the visuals of Murasaki Baby. It is like a cross between a Tim Burton movie, a van Gogh painting, Costume Quest, and a less scary Silent Hill game. Even that description doesn’t do justice to the game. It is almost like a photographic mosaic where you see this brilliant image of the game but the longer you stare at it the more individual images you see.

The dark blue background has so many levels of detail that you don’t notice until you really just stare at it. Again I got so drawn into this game that I did just stare at the backgrounds on levels just seeing what I could notice. This level of immersion is why I have played through it as many times as I have.

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Audio:
When I received the review code for the game one of the recommendations given by the developer was “to wear headphones while playing.” I am so glad that I caught this bit of info because it drastically affects the game. The conversations spoken between characters can easily be heard without the headphones but if you really want to get into this game and pick up all the nuances, I strongly recommend playing this game with headphones and in a quiet place. Normally I wouldn’t include something like this in a review but I think it has such a drastic impact on the game I didn’t want to leave it out.

The reason for this is there are so many little background sounds and noises going on that you don’t want to miss. Not only do they add a lot of atmosphere to the game, this background noise also contains a lot of hidden gems. Without giving away any spoilers, there was one level where I just sat and listened to the background noise for 30 minutes just making sure that I didn’t miss anything. It’s not that I thought there was a deeper meaning to it or that it would explain something in the game, rather it felt like I was listening to a Dr. Demento show or a 50’s movie.

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It was strange how something as minor as the background music could draw me into the world so much. The last time I remember something like this was when a friend of mine was playing Final Fantasy X and spent hours translating the language in the game. Not because he thought there was a hidden meaning, instead he just wanted to become even more part of the world. The funny thing is my listening to the music for 30 minutes happened on my third play through of the game.

The rest of the sound of the game is just as brilliant as the background music. From the sound effects of each background to the interactions between characters everything contributes to bringing you into this world.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
I am sorry for being so vague in my descriptions or my lack of detail about Murasaki Baby. I did this because like any true art form this game really needs to be experienced and then discussed and not just told about. My only real gripe is the controls and it is a very minor one.  Outside of that I have played this game three times since I got it and by the time this review goes live it will be four times. I didn’t play anything else this weekend except this game. I am truly thankful to Ovosonico for crafting this masterpiece for gamers to enjoy.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

Written by Damon Bullis

Damon Bullis

I’m a gamer from back in the days of Telstar Arcade, Atari 2600, and Intellivision. I currently have a PS4, PS3x2, Vita, PSP, Xbox One, 360, Wii U, Wii, and a N64.

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  • Keith Dunn

    Sweet!