Baba Is You

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Baba Is You
The phrase "Baba Is You" written in all caps in a hand-written style, similar to penciled-in block letters. "Baba" and "You" is in pink, while the "Is" is white.
Designer(s)Arvi Teikari
Programmer(s)Arvi Teikari
Composer(s)Arvi Teikari
EngineMultimedia Fusion 2
ReleaseWindows, macOS, Linux, Switch
  • WW: 13 March, 2019
iOS, Android
  • WW: 22 June, 2021

Baba Is You is a puzzle video game created by Finnish independent developer Arvi Teikari (known professionally as Hempuli). The game centers around the manipulation of "rules"—represented in the play area by movable tiles with words written on them—in order to allow the player character, usually the titular Baba, to reach a specified goal. Originating as a short demo built for the 2017 Nordic Game Jam,[1] the game was expanded and released on 13 March 2019 for PC and Nintendo Switch. Mobile versions were released in June 2021. A free update titled "Baba Make Level" was released on November 17, 2021, featuring 250 new and previously unused levels and a level editor with online sharing. Baba Is You received generally favorable reviews from critics.


The player character, Baba, is enclosed in all directions by walls. Outside of this enclosure is the phrase "BABA IS YOU", and inside the enclosure is the phrase "WALL IS STOP". Baba moves around and attempts to walk past a wall but fails. Then, Baba breaks the "WALL IS STOP" phrase and is able to walk past it.
Baba (the white sheep-like creature)[2] is made the player character by the phrase BABA IS YOU. The three blocks reading WALL IS STOP create a rule that prevents Baba from crossing wall tiles. Once the rule blocks are separated, the rule is no longer enforced, and Baba can pass through walls.

In each level, the player is presented with a one-screen puzzle consisting of various objects, characters, and movable word tiles. The player is given control of one or more characters or objects on the screen (most often, the player controls a character named Baba, a white sheep-like creature). The word tiles consist of nouns corresponding to specific types of objects and obstacles on the field (such as Baba itself, the goal flag, walls and hazards, and other creatures), verbs such as IS and HAS, linking operators such as AND and NOT, and descriptive tiles determining the properties of these objects (such as YOU, which makes all instances of the object become controlled by the player; PUSH and PULL to make them movable; STOP to make them impassable; and WIN to specify the goal object).

When three or more word tiles (minimally consisting of one object, one verb, and one property or object) are aligned vertically or horizontally into a valid syntax, they create a rule that determines how the object behaves and that will be enforced until the string is broken up. For example, the goal can be changed by moving IS and WIN blocks to apply to another object, and the player can pass through objects by removing the STOP trait from them.[3] Specific rules for a level can be placed in a way that the tiles cannot be broken up (for instance, by having the rule placed in an inaccessible corner), committing that rule for the entire level.[4] The player completes a level when an object that is the subject of an IS YOU rule (i.e. an active player-character) occupies the same tile as an object that is the subject of an IS WIN rule (i.e. an active goal), or by itself IS WIN (i.e. the same object is the player and the goal); conversely, levels are never explicitly failed, but if there are no more IS YOU objects left (or there is no IS YOU rule) the player may be unable to proceed and have to undo or restart. It is, however, possible to use certain properties that function even without IS YOU objects (such as MOVE or SHIFT) to create a setup where an IS YOU rule is broken, then put back together later on or even at a separate location.

Objects can also be transformed into each other through the syntax <object 1> IS <object 2> (i.e. BABA IS FLAG would replace any babas on screen with flags.) This can be prevented through <object 1> IS <object 1> (i.e. BABA IS BABA overrides all BABA IS <object> commands and would prevent the aforementioned transformation from occurring.)

The game contains 481 levels,[3] spread across 3 level packs, with 231 in "Baba is you" (The base game before the "Baba make level" update), 88 in "Museum" (A collection of unused/scrap levels which were reworked and polished), and 162 in "New adventures" (Purely Original content added in the "Baba make level" update). At the late-game stages of both "Baba is you" and "Museum", the player gains access to the noun LEVEL, from which point map screens in which levels are selected become levels in and of themselves, with the player transforming levels into objects and manipulating rules around the map screen to progress.

Development and release[edit]

Arvi Teikari speaking behind a podium. He is wearing a black shirt with many icons from the game, including a flag, a mushroom, the "BABA", "IS", and "WIN" operators, and Baba itself.
Arvi Teikari accepting his Independent Games Festival Award in 2018

The theme of the 2017 Nordic Game Jam was "Not There", which prompted Teikari, a student at the University of Helsinki who had previously developed the Metroidvania-genre game Environmental Station Alpha, to envision a game concept based on manipulating logic operators. He explained that levels were often created by brainstorming a "cool" or "amusing" solution, and then coming up with how the player would accomplish it. Teikari noted that "the most satisfying moments in puzzle games are those which present the player with simple but hard-to-wrap-your-head-around situations, so that solving the puzzle is about figuring out that one neat trick/twist".[5] As with his previous projects, the game was developed using Multimedia Fusion 2, and a Lua scripting plugin; Teikari credited his friend Lukas Meller for help with the Lua implementations.[5] Teikari wrote on Reddit that the naming of the characters Baba and Keke was inspired by the bouba/kiki effect.[6]

Teikari stated in 2017 that he planned to release the full game in 2018, and placed a development version of the title for download at After Baba Is You won at the Independent Games Festival in March 2018, a clone of the game was released by a French publisher on the App Store, using nearly the same graphics and calling itself the same name. Teikari worked with the French division of Apple to remove the offending app.[7]

The game, and a Nintendo Switch release, were focused upon in a Nintendo indie games showcase presentation on 31 August 2018.[8] Baba Is You was released on 13 March 2019, via Steam for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS, and on Nintendo Switch.[3][4]

A cross-platform level editor, with online level sharing, was added to the game on November 17, 2021, as a free update for the personal computer and Switch versions. This update included 150 additional levels in two new level packs, and added various new rules, art, and soundtracks.[9][10]

Alongside programming the game, Teikari also composed the soundtrack using OpenMPT. Shortly before the release of the level editor update, he released the music project files via the official Baba Is You Twitter account.[11]

Mobile versions for iOS and Android devices were released on 22 June 2021.[12]


Baba Is You won first place at the 2017 Nordic Game Jam.[22] It was nominated for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and won awards for "Best Student Game" and "Excellence In Design" at the 2018 IGF Awards.[23] It was also nominated for "Best Indie Game" at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards,[24] for "Indie Game of the Year" at the Titanium Awards,[25] and for "Best Independent Game" at The Game Awards 2019.[26] In addition, it was nominated for "Gameplay Design, New IP" at the NAVGTR Awards,[27] for "Game Design" and "Original Property" at the 16th British Academy Games Awards,[28] and for "Best Indie Game" at the Famitsu Dengeki Game Awards 2019.[29] Baba Is You won the award for "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design" during the 23rd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards,[30] as well as for "Best Design" and the "Innovation Award" at the 20th Game Developers Choice Awards.[31] The PC version of the game was among the best-selling new releases of the month on Steam.[32][a]

Baba Is You received "generally favorable reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[13][14] Polygon considered it "one of the best puzzle video games in years", with the reviewer observing that it "asks me to toss my assumptions about how rules in video games work, to analyze how and why they exist in the first place. And that sort of reprogramming of my brain, oddly enough, happens best when the game is turned off".[3] Pocket Gamer was similarly positive, describing it as a "ridiculously complex puzzler that has you questioning not only every decision you make, but how anyone managed to think up something so bizarre", and concluding that it was one of the "most inventive, exciting puzzle games you will ever play. It's beautifully simple in its graphics and its core design, but it'll make your brain hurt with how nonsensical the solutions appear to be".[4]

A criticized aspect of the game is its level of difficulty. Game Informer expressed dissatisfaction with the overcomplication that arises from the compounding of variables in later stages of the game, which often resulted in "exhausting and unsatisfying" gameplay.[15] GameSpot also criticized the increasing difficulty of later puzzles caused by the language of the operating words, saying that "as the language involved gets more complex, words are ushered in whose meaning seems vague and whose purpose remains hazy, and that can make certain puzzles infuriatingly obscure".[16]


  1. ^ Based on total revenue for the first two weeks on sale[33]


  1. ^ "Baba is You | Entry 2018". Independent Games Festival. 12 October 2017.
  2. ^ Lambie, Ryan (7 March 2019). "Pushing boundaries with Baba is You". Wireframe. Archived from the original on 8 June 2020. Retrieved 7 June 2020. As far as the game's concerned, Baba is a cutesy sheep/cat/goat/dog who just happened to be settled with 'Youness' or a consciousness of sorts. In the jam version Baba was intended to be a robot with antennae, but a colleague, Jason Boyer, made some really sweet fanart of Baba, interpreting them as a humanoid goat creature (with the antennae becoming horns), and I decided to change Baba's looks more to that direction as I updated the sprites.
  3. ^ a b c d Plante, Chris (13 March 2019). "Baba Is You review: one of the best puzzle games in years". Polygon. Archived from the original on 13 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Cowley, Ric (13 March 2019). "Baba is You Switch review - 'Puzzling perfection in every way'". Pocket Gamer. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  5. ^ a b Couture, Joel (15 February 2018). "Road to the IGF: Hempuli Oy's Baba Is You". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  6. ^ Hempuli (18 April 2019). "Hi, I'm Hempuli, the developer of Baba Is You. Ask me anything!". r/NintendoSwitch. Reddit. Archived from the original on 22 December 2020. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  7. ^ Wawro, Alex (4 April 2018). "IGF Award-winning Baba Is You cloned before it was even released". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 21 April 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  8. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (28 August 2018). "Nintendo Holds Nindies Showcase Summer 2018". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  9. ^ Bolding, Jonathan (17 November 2019). "Baba is You has a cross-platform level editor coming". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 17 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  10. ^ Nightingale, Ed (12 November 2021). "Level editor coming to Baba Is You in free update". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  11. ^ @babaisyou_ (12 November 2021). "People have requested the project files for the Baba Is You music; well, here you go! Please give credit if you use them or make remixes!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 12 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ Madnani, Mikhail (22 June 2021). "The Brilliant Puzzler 'Baba Is You' from Hempuli Just Released on iOS and Android with over 200 Levels Included". Touch Arcade. Archived from the original on 22 June 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  13. ^ a b "Baba Is You for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 29 June 2020. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Baba Is You for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  15. ^ a b Hilliard, Kyle (25 March 2019). "Baba Is You Clever Puzzles With Too Many Variables". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  16. ^ a b Marsh, Calum. "Baba is You Review - Game-Changer". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 1 July 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  17. ^ Borvo974 (23 March 2019). "Test Baba is You: Un jeu simple mais pas simpliste". (in French). Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Grassl, Zion (24 May 2019). "Baba Is You Review (Switch eShop)". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  19. ^ Ronaghan, Neal (15 March 2019). "Baba Is You (Switch) Review". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  20. ^ Warr, Philippa (15 March 2019). "Baba is You review". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  21. ^ Madnani, Mikhail (7 July 2021). "'Baba Is You' Review – Easily One of the Best Puzzle Games of All Time". TouchArcade. Archived from the original on 17 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  22. ^ MacLeod, Riley (13 March 2019). "A Puzzle Game Where You Rewrite The Rules Of Each Level". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 5 August 2021. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  23. ^ Donnelly, Joe (22 March 2018). "Night in the Woods tops IGF Awards, student game Baba Is You wins big". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 3 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  24. ^ Tailby, Stephen (20 September 2019). "Days Gone Rides Off with Three Nominations in This Year's Golden Joystick Awards". Push Square. Archived from the original on 20 September 2019. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Titanium Awards 2019". Fun & Serious Game Festival. 9 March 2017. Archived from the original on 21 November 2019. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  26. ^ Winslow, Jeremy (19 November 2019). "The Game Awards 2019 Nominees Full List". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 23 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  27. ^ "2019 Nominees". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. 13 January 2020. Archived from the original on 21 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  28. ^ Stuart, Keith (3 March 2020). "Death Stranding and Control dominate Bafta games awards nominations". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 23 October 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  29. ^ Sato (18 April 2020). "Here Are the Winners of the Famitsu Dengeki Game Awards 2019". Siliconera. Archived from the original on 20 November 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  30. ^ Van Allen, Eric (14 February 2020). "Untitled Goose Game Wins Top Bill at the 2020 D.I.C.E. Awards". USgamer. Archived from the original on 14 February 2020. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  31. ^ Makuch, Eddie (18 March 2020). "Untitled Goose Game Wins Another Game Of The Year Award". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  32. ^ "Best of 2019: New Releases". Steam. Valve. 26 December 2019. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  33. ^ "A Look Back - The Best of 2019". Steam. Valve. 26 December 2019. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.

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