Exclusive to PS Vita
It's been a while since the PS Vita had a brand new and exclusive title launch, but this month sees Murasaki Baby finally arrived for Sony's handheld. Originally announced at GamesCom a couple of years ago, Murasaki Baby has been incoming for a very long time. But it's definitely been worth the wait.
Murasaki Baby is a strange game that sees you guide a lost little girl and her vibrant purple heart balloon through a world make up of the stuff of nightmares. She's lost her mummy and it's down to you to help Baby find her.
We've been waiting for a great PS Vita exclusive since Tearaway and Murasaki Baby is certainly in the runnings for one of the best Vita games out there. Like Tearaway, it utilises the majority of the PS Vita's unique feature set, namely its touchscreen, rear touch panel and its in-built gyroscope/accelerometer combo.
The aim of the game is to take Baby by the hand and safely guide her through each level, giving the nod to influence Ico. You'll need to keep Baby and her balloon intact through all the various hazard presented by the nightmarish landscapes.
Murasaki Baby is split into chapters. Within each chapter that you need to guide Baby through you'll encounter a new character who needs your help with a specific problem. You'll need to utilise the available backgrounds and a bit of problem solving to aid them and get Baby to the next area.
We won't spoil the story for you, as this is one of the game's most compelling aspects.
The characters are fully fleshed, even though they barely speak, and part of Murasaki Baby's charm is trying to work out their ailments and predicaments. This especially applies to Baby herself. She's scared and alone, but weirdly curious about the slightly terrifying world around her.
As you hold her hand and meet these different characters, you'll be required to interact with the occupants and scenery in order to guide her to the next doorway. These doorways are the key to progressing in Murasaki Baby, as they unlock the next part of the chapter or the next one entirely as Baby rushes through them calling for her mother.
You hold Baby's hand literally by holding your finger down on the touchscreen. Pull her hand in the direction you want to take her and she will follow on behind. If you pull too hard, she'll trip and fall, so you need to have a little patience.
If she likes the location she's currently in, she'll walk quite willingly. But if she's scared, she'll walk much more reluctantly. This is all controlled by the background currently on display.
As you progress through the game, you'll be offered multiple background to switch to with a swipe of the rear touch pad. Each of these affect Baby differently and allow you to interact with the world in a different way. One of the first is a red background with boxes in it. If you tap the rear touch pad, Jack in the Boxes will spring out and scare Baby and the monsters trying to get at her. Later there's a blue background that gives you the power of electricity. By directing the current via the rear touch pad, you can charge up moving platforms to get Baby to the next area. There's even a special purple background that lets you flip the entire world upside down by literally flipping your PS Vita 180 degrees.
You'll need to work with these background to solve the puzzles presented to you in Murasaki Baby. Often, they require switching quickly from background to background, so you'll need to be quick in manoeuvring your fingers around the PS Vita.
At some points you'll even need to get multiple fingers in on the action on the touchscreen, keeping one firmly on Baby's hand and the other on the balloon as you divert it away from electric beams, thorns and flying safety pins.
In that way, Murasaki Baby utilises all aspects of the PS Vita’s features. You'll be scrolling through backgrounds with the rear touchpad and looking after Baby with the touchscreen. You won't be touching the buttons or analogue sticks for the majority of the game, highlighting the flexibility of the PS Vita's hardware.
Murasaki Baby excels with it's strong storyline and innovative gameplay, both of which make it a stand-out title for the PS Vita. There's even a great, eerie soundtrack with unique sound effects to take you deep into the Murasaki world. Developer Ovosonico might not have the developer credentials of Media Molecule, but the studio is proving that there can be unique and compelling titles for the PS Vita.
There's a catch though. Murasaki Baby is a fairly reasonable £7.99 purchase, but for that price you're only getting around two hours of play time. The storyline and gameplay are well worth the investment, but we felt a like it ended far too quickly when the credits started rolling. It's a great game, but we want more of it.
There's no incentive to go back to your favourite bits either. Once you've sat through the (lengthy) credits sequence, there's no option to revisit specific chapters. Instead you are only given the option to play through the whole game again, losing your original save entirely.
Murasaki Baby is a fantastic game that really demonstrates the PS Vita's features, nearly as well as Tearaway does. There's a rich storyline, clever gameplay features and the artwork is quirky and appealing. However, it's sub 2 hour length does Murasaki Baby a disservice. By the time you reach the end, you're just getting into how the world can be manipulated.
Murasaki is worth the experience if you're willing to fork out £8 for a couple of hours gameplay.
Read more: Best PS Vita games