Baba Is You is a puzzle game by Arvi Teikari about making and breaking rules. Each stage of the game allows you to control and manipulate the rules of the puzzle, enabling you to rearrange them to achieve your goal. You can move walls, make water float, or turn yourself into a rock in this quirky puzzle game that tells us that every rule is flexible.
The concept of Baba Is You is simple and unique, but can be quite difficult to explain. Each puzzle provides you with the rules of the stage in a few short sentences, before allowing you to manipulate them. The vast majority of puzzles use the game's namesake rule, baba is you, to give you control of the bunny avatar. You can then use the bunny to move the text, changing the rules to allow you to win.
Some stages require you to get past an obstacle, while others need you to change the win conditions instead. Many puzzles also have more than one solution, allowing you to test the game's limits. The trailer below shows this process in action:
It’s important to remember that Baba Is You isn't aiming to win awards for its looks. If you want realistic graphics and an all-star voice cast, you won’t find it here. Instead, what you will find is a unique puzzle game with clean, hand-drawn-looking graphic design and a bucketful of charm. The 8-bit style may be simple, but it’s perfectly suited to this title, as it focuses purely on stretching your brain and challenging the way you think.
When you first open the game, you'll see a map that is reminiscent of many '80s platformers. The puzzles are grouped together in stages, with each one having a common theme relating to its place on the map. Themes include the lake, the deep forest, and the chasm. Completing the puzzles in each stage unlocks bonus stages, as well as new sections of the map.
The first few puzzles are, as you may expect, quite simple to complete. They offer a good stepping stone that allows you to get used to the game’s basic concept before it starts taxing your brain. While it doesn't take too long to get past the first stage, the game ramps up the difficulty quite quickly after that.
This is where it can get tricky, as puzzle games are notoriously difficult to get right.
If games are too easy then players will get bored, but if they're too complex then players might get frustrated. Baba Is You is rare in that it manages to successfully strike a balance. It is challenging, but not frustrating.
Though I definitely spent much longer on certain stages than I’m willing to admit, the map system gives you a workaround when the puzzles get really tough.
In each area, completing puzzles unlocks more of them. However, you don’t have to complete every one in order to progress. Take, for example, the forest area shown below.
You can see that I’ve completed the first three puzzles. This has now given me access to three brand new puzzles: 04, 05 and 07. Completing any of these will again open up more options.
The stage itself requires eight puzzles to be completed, as shown in the top right-hand corner. This means that once any eight are solved, then I can explore the next area. Some areas also open up simultaneously, like the Forest of Fall, which opened alongside the Temple Ruins.
Having the flexibility to unlock new stages without fully completing every puzzle in previous one really helps to avoid frustration. It allows you to move ahead and then go back to the more challenging stages later.
Sometimes, solving one puzzle helps you solve another that you'd previously struggled with.
As you progress, the rules become slightly more complex and occasionally require you to string several together in order to achieve your goal. Because of this, the game manages to remain interesting and avoid becoming too monotonous.
After a few solid hours of play, I had access to several different areas, but I was still far from completing the game. I really wanted to, though, and that’s what’s so great about this title.
Completing each stage is genuinely fun and offers a huge sense of achievement. I feel even more pleased if I am able to do something crazy, such as turn into a wall or run under floating lava.
In this age of complex, sometimes overwhelming graphics, there’s also something refreshing about playing a game with a simpler style. Baba Is You has a certain charm that’s often missing in modern games. By going back to basics when it comes to both the graphics and sound, it is obvious that the entire focus of the game is on its puzzles.
Though I played this on PC, the Switch version is likely to be even better, as Baba Is You is a perfect game to play on the go. It's just as much fun without sound, as the puzzles are engaging and entertaining on their own. You can also easily pick it up and put it back down without worrying about losing progress. The game simply picks back up from where you left off.
Overall, Baba Is You is a fun way to spend your time.
Baba Is You is quirky, interesting, and incredibly engaging. Though it isn’t the longest or most sophisticated game, it is extremely entertaining and is priced accordingly, so it still offers great value for your money. I can also see myself revisiting old puzzles later on and trying to find new ways to complete them.
5 out of 5 stars.
Baba Is You is now available for PC and Nintendo Switch. A copy of the game was purchased by The Gamer for this review.