Please don’t pop.
Indie games seem to have an uphill battle at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, but they naturally find their way into my heart. At Sony’s booth, a cadre of PlayStation 4 games seems to stand above numerous waist-level PlayStation Vita stations and impose its will on the portable platform. While Nintendo 3DS has certainly outpaced Vita in sales, more than a few unique experiences remain exclusive to Sony and the dual-touch-panel device that’s gotten portrayed more as a compliment to a home console as opposed to a standalone device.
That said, Murasaki Baby from developer Ovosonico couldn’t possibly be played as intended on anything other than PlayStation Vita. Game Director Massimo Guarini introduced me to the delicately drawn title earlier today with its emphasis on Edward Gorey-esque pen lines and morosely hopeful darkness. Murasaki Baby itself follows the story of a lost girl in a world of fear, though players will meet others as they journey forward holding their protagonist's hand and guiding them safely through a number of traps.
Players guide Baby through the game with their finger on the touchscreen, holding her diminutive hand and ensuring that she doesn’t lose her heart-shaped balloon on the way. Baby has teeth on her forehead as does a male character I encountered towards the end of the demo, but don’t worry, she doesn’t bite. Instead, you’ll have to worry about clothes pins and environmental hazards that could pop Baby’s balloon or worse, kill her outright. Players can touch multiple points to lead Baby and defend her at the same time, but you’ll need to swipe the back of the Vita to change the powers you can use by tapping the front of the screen.
The powers change with each level but one specific sequence featured a moat that needed to be filled with a rain power. Baby could then board a dark duck sailboat and wind power could push her across the water to the other side. Another ability scared enemies, but Baby dropped her balloon which meant I needed to recover it with the touchscreen. This isn’t the kind of game you’ll want to play for long stretches, but the shorter level design and intriguing art style will lend itself to short bursts of haunting puzzles and narrative exposition.
Murasaki Baby doesn’t really present the kind of experience PS4 owners might look for, especially with that platform's powerful graphics output. When you look at the title, you recognize that frames per second mean nothing, but I hope to find out more about the minimalist narrative. Even with over-the-ear headphones, I struggled to hear the game’s soundtrack all that well in the Sony booth at E3. Luckily, we won’t have to wait long as the game is due out this year exclusively on PlayStation Vita.
For more on Sony’s software at E3 2014, stick with GameRevolution.