Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Play Log 2014 - Murasaki Miniature

Murasaki Baby Image It's sort of strange to go from massive titles like Destiny and Dark Souls (I dipped my toes in for an hour), games I know because of their size and complexity I will never finish, to a game that I completed in about 3 hours. Murasaki Baby is a short game but one that touched my heart in a way that the full length ones never will.

When I heard the game mechanics described on one of the podcasts I listen to, I knew I had to get it immediately. It's a puzzle/platform style game, but instead of using standard thumbstick and button inputs, you lead this little child and her heart-shaped balloon around a demented world by holding her hand on the touchscreen of the Vita. But you have to be careful - pull a little and she walks slowly, pull a bit more and she speeds up, pull too hard and she either slips from your grasp or falls down. The connection I made with her was so strong, I felt I needed to apologize anytime that happened. In playing it, I was reminded of Limbo, but I never felt this kind of attachment to the character I was controlling there.

The worlds and creatures in it are bizarre - like what Peanuts would have looked like if drawn by Edward Gorey or Tim Burton. They are also disturbingly amazing! The amount of art in this little game makes it worth the asking price alone. The backgrounds, which affect things around your little charge, are an array of strangeness - electrical storms in a sea of batteries, a giant eye, a Godzilla-sized rabbit, and a dead-grey heart that turns the balloon to stone. Then there are flying safety pins, one-eyed spiders, and tooth throwing ghouls.

In addition to trying to find her mommy, you also help some of the other inhabitants of this world. There's just enough story telling through actions and pictures that you get what's happening. Everyone has mouths on the top of their heads, but I think it's more of a matter that everyone's head is on upside down - maybe to denote a different view of this odd life.

About half way through the game, the little sweetie is just so tired, she sits down and falls asleep. From the left comes a strange buggy device that gently picks her up and tucks her into a seat for a brief "mine cart" segment - the only time the thumbsticks are used. The tenderness of this tentacle trolley was just beautiful.

While not perfect (it crashed on me once, could have used a few more checkpoints, and my big, fat fingers were not the easiest to see around), but I'll happily support a title like this - one that tries something very different on an obscure platform. My time with Murasaki Baby may have been brief, but I'll remember that little girl and our adventure together for a very long time.

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