Gamescom '13: Hands-on with Murasaki Baby on PS Vita

An emotion-driven puzzler

Gamescom '13: Hands-on with Murasaki Baby on PS Vita
| Murasaki Baby

I spent a serious amount of time at the PS Vita stands at Gamescom last week.

There's a huge number of exciting new titles heading to the handheld, you see. And as a self-professed Vita supporter, I wanted to make sure I played each and every one of them.

Some of the most exciting upcoming Vita games were only revealed days ago. Murasaki Baby, for example, is an innovative puzzler from Shadows of the Damned director Massimo Guarini and his team at Ovosonico.

Apart from having a very pretty face, this game boasts something compelling and unique on the Vita platform. Yep, emotion-driven gaming.

Take my hand

You play Murasaki Baby entirely using the touchscreen and the back touch panel. You're presented with a small child who is lost in a horrible world full of nasty dreams and fears.

After taking her by the hand, you have to lead the child through each level, ensuring she remains safe from harm. This involves your stopping to poke enemies and traps that are in the way, and solving puzzles to help her progress.

But there are some underlying design elements that separate this experience from others that have come before it.

Take the child, for example. Her emotions will change depending on the situation she's in. She might be so tense with fright, for instance, that she can't go on any longer.

This is where the back panel comes in. As you progress, you'll earn the ability to flick the back panel and completely change the backdrop of the current scene.

Using this technique, you can potentially make the surrounding area 'happier' for the girl, or even bring puzzle elements into view that can interact with the foreground.

On your own

The emotional journey extends to the girl's happiness, too. As you play and show her how to tackle specific traps, she'll learn how to do it herself.

You'll be able to watch her grow as a person as you play, although you'll still need to make sure that she doesn't come a cropper through overconfidence.

As long as she always has her pink heart balloon, her journey will continue. And even if said balloon begins to float away, you can grab it with your finger and drag it back into her hands.

Murasaki Baby has massive potential, and looks fantastic. I did, however, find plenty of moments where I didn't (ironically) feel like I was being led by the hand very well. I had to ask for help on multiple occaions to pass certain sections. And quite honestly, I'm the sort of person who rarely needs help with games.

Of course, this is a very early build (the game is due out in 2014), so Ovosonico will hopefully iron this issue out by launch. For now, though, Murasaki Baby is definitely one to watch.

Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.