Murasaki Baby is a very strange game, and I say that having played The Path. Mechanically, it's just a collection of pokes, prods and swipes on the PlayStation Vita's touch screen and rear touch pad. But everything else, everything else is about as bizarre as could be.

The game stars a little girl (of sorts), whose only love in life seems to be a heart-shaped balloon she carries everywhere. Her affection is understandable, given that popping said balloon means her immediate death. You don't actually play as the little girl, though; instead you use your fingers to interact with the world, in some cases literally dragging the girl somewhere she doesn't want to be.

Oh, and have I mentioned the little girl's mouth is on top of her head, and that watching her laugh is a nightmare on stilts?
Gallery | 5 Photos

Murasaki Baby (Gamescom 2013)

Everything about Murasaki Baby is nightmarish, really, and much of it resembles the artwork of Tim Burton and Edward Gorey. The world is littered with tentacles, threatening gallows, freak storms. The characters are equally abnormal: a funny little man with a tentacle for a nose, flocks of malicious, winged safety pins.

It's your job to protect the girl from these things. Thankfully, you don't have to spend the entire game holding her hand. A quick swipe will prompt her to walk, and she'll automatically trudge forward and leap over small pits. Periodically, her path will be blocked by obstacles or enemies. If you encounter a darkened cavern, for example, you'll have to drag a lantern inside (scaring off a colony of one-eyed bats in the process) before she'll venture any further. When those flying safety pins show up, you'll have to poke them out of the sky before they pop her balloon. Sometimes you'll have to stop the girl yourself, lest she unwittingly walks into a tentacle's grasp.

Using your godly poking powers, you can also change the environment. With a swipe of the rear touch pad, you can start a thunderous downpour, or create a howling gale. This is primarily used to solve puzzles: At one point in my session, the girl came across a boat that had run aground, and before I could convince her to move on, I had to fill a dry river bed by summoning a storm. That done, I prodded her into the boat and summoned a giant windmill. Twirling my finger on the rear touch pad, I spun the blades of the windmill and blew the little boat to the opposite shore.

Murasaki Baby is the weirdest game
That was the most complex puzzle I encountered during my short demo. Most of the puzzles boiled down to either summoning the correct weather or sussing out which part of the screen to press. Others, like the swarm of evil safety pins, were more of a dexterity challenge, requiring me to poke multiple enemies in quick succession.

At the end of the day, though, you're just watching the girl move from left to right, occasionally stepping in to swipe away some crisis. The unorthodox gameplay is certainly interesting, but detaching the player from the protagonist hinges everything on the strength of Murasaki Baby's puzzles and quirky art style.

That's a valid design strategy – it certainly worked for Asura's Wrath – but there's always a danger that strangeness for the sake of strangeness will wear out its welcome. One of the driving factors of my short session, and what drew me in, was the desire to see what brain-bending oddity would pop up next. If Murasaki Baby can maintain its outlandish parade of curious creatures and balance that with a satisfying batch of puzzles along the way, it could really be something unique.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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