Baba is You is a deviously clever puzzle game that makes use of, and let's players manipulate, simple phrases that define the game's rules.
Baba is You. Flag is win.
On the weekend I was watching a mystery tournament where speedrunners battle to see who can beat an unknown game the fastest. It's a fun little way for people to explore weird and wonderful games in short bursts. Mostly weird games.
It's a fun thing to have on in the background.
Then they started playing Baba is You. They had my attention.
Baba is You is the creation of Arvi Teikari, who made it for the Nordic Game Jam back in April 2017. The theme was "not there" and Teikari's mind went to logic operators.
Baba is you. Flag is win. Wall is stop.
Each of these phrases are defined by simple blocks that you can push around to change the rules of the game and solve the puzzles. Replace 'Baba' in 'Baba is You' and you become whatever it is you put in its place.
Maybe flag is you. Maybe you don't put anything there and are now unable to move.
Wall is you. Flag is win.
As the game progresses, more puzzles unlock with more parameters to manipulate.
Lava is hot. Baba is melt.
Push 'hot' away from 'Lava is hot' and suddenly it's safe for Baba to traverse. Allowing you to find your way through to the goal.
Baba is You is not a game that forces players down certain pathways. There are only a handful of options but there's enough to do some silly things. The simplicity almost encourages more creative solutions, to see just how much you can get out of this premise.
For a game made in such a short time, Baba is You manages to be both cute and clever. The ideas are not fully realised but it's a good way to spend 20 to 30 minutes.
The game jam version of Baba is You is currently available on itch.io.
There are only a handful of levels. Enough to leave you wanting more. More is coming later this year with a Steam version of the game that promises over 100 puzzles.