Review: Murasaki Baby

story
Murasaki Baby is every small child’s worst fear. A small girl is abruptly awoken from her sleep only to learn that her mother isn’t there to comfort her. As the small child ventures further to find her mother she soon realises that her mother is no where to be found. The child sets out to find her with her favourite balloon in hand for safety as she over comes terrifying obstacles that are sure to frighten any small child.

presentation
As soon as I booted this game up it was clear to me that a strong inspiration was drawn from director Tim Burton’s art style. In particular the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” with particular attention to the dark, grim and gothic persona it creates. There was also a hint of South Park involved with the characters, large round cartoonish heads for example.

There is no real voice acting or even an exceptionally strong soundtrack, but I found that Murasaki goes off the foundations that ‘A little goes a long way’. Small cries for Mummy from the small girl, shrieks of terror and even subtle accompanying melodies all set the grim tone perfectly.

Sitting perfectly in this game are some absolutely brilliantly utilised vibrant colours. Each theme as I mentioned above is solely one vibrant colour with black sketching of the gothic themed mentioned earlier and these moving art pieces are absolutely fantastic but are unjustly ruined by the excessive touchscreen interaction the game requires. It is a true shame really as there are some wonderful environments mixed with the wonderful colours to be taken in.

gameplay
Being solely developed for the Vita, Murasaki Baby takes full (or even too much) advantage of the Vita’s touch pad panels, front and back. You navigate this small child through the world by essentially holding her hand. Applying pressure to the front touch pad around the small child’s hand and dragging it in your desired direction, don’t drag it too aggressively however as it may cause the small child to trip (Yes, you feel like an absolute bully if you do make her trip and it feels horrible). The same concept applies for your balloon, acting essentially as your health you need to direct the balloon out of harms way. Sometimes it can pop instantly when colliding with obstacles or when something startles the child. I found the health system to be a fun and a unique exercise that fit the tone of the game perfectly.

As you navigate the short, roughly 4-5 hour experience you encounter differing circumstances that require your interaction to progress. One instance for example is when you need to extinguish a small fire so you can pass through so you swipe the rear touch pad of the Vita until you find the required background setting and touch tap to initiate the function. Similar situations occur when you need to distract a monster or even flood gullies to raft across. It is a good feature that generates some wonderful artwork but can become quickly confusing or even disorientating when you need to make quick and accurate decisions.

All in all, the touch screen mechanics worked quite well and there was enough variety to keep you invested. Unfortunately there were a few crucial times where I found the hand holding gestures be quite inaccurate which forced a few restarts. Thankfully this game is exceptionally generous in its checkpoints. There are a few obstacle manoeuvres or interactions that require the touchscreen to be used at all times which keeps you invested, but overall I felt that the game was too reliant on the excessive movements of the touchscreen which pulls you away from the wonderful aesthetics of the game as your hands flail about to progress the game.

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