Baba Is You
|Baba Is You|
|Engine||Multimedia Fusion 2|
|Release||13 March 2019|
Baba Is You is a puzzle video game created by Finnish indie developer Arvi Teikari (known professionally as Hempuli), released on 13 March 2019 for PC and Nintendo Switch. The game centers around the manipulation of "rules"—represented by tiles with words written on them—in order to allow the player character, usually the titular Baba, to reach a specified goal.
The player, usually, controls a character known as Baba, with exceptions in some levels. Each level contains various movable word tiles, corresponding to specific types of objects and obstacles on the field (such as Baba itself, the goal flag, walls and environmental hazards, and other creatures), linking operators such as "is" and "and", and verb tiles reflecting the properties of these objects (such as "you", which makes the object become controlled by the player, "push" to make them movable, "stop" to make them impassable, "win" to specify the goal, "sink" to make items drown in it, and so on). The objective of each level is for the player to reach the goal by manipulating these tiles to create or modify "rules" by which they behave. For example, the goal can be changed by moving "is" and "win" blocks to another object, and the player can travel through objects by removing the "stop" trait from them. Levels can force specific rules by placing their blocks in a corner, so they cannot be moved. The game contains over 200 levels.
Development and release
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." 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.
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 itch.io. 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.
The game, and a Nintendo Switch release, were focused upon in a Nintendo indie games showcase presentation on 31 August 2018. Baba Is You was released on 13 March 2019, via Steam for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS, and on Nintendo Switch.
A cross-platform level editor, with online level sharing, is currently in open beta on Steam, and is expected to be added to the game within 2020.
Baba Is You won first place at the 2017 Nordic Game Jam. 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. It was also nominated for "Best Indie Game" at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards, for "Indie Game of the Year" at the Titanium Awards, and for "Best Independent Game" at The Game Awards 2019, and won the award for "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design" for the 23rd Annual D.I.C.E. Awards; in addition, it was nominated for "Gameplay Design, New IP" at the NAVGTR Awards, for "Game Design" and "Original Property" at the 16th British Academy Games Awards, and for "Best Indie Game" at the Famitsu Dengeki Game Awards 2019, and won the award for "Best Design" and the "Innovation Award" at the 20th Game Developers Choice Awards. The PC version of the game was among the best-selling new releases of the month on Steam.[a]
Baba Is You received "generally favorable reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic. 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." 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."
- Based on total revenue for the first two weeks on sale.
- Teikari, Arvi (20 March 2020). Reading the Rules of 'Baba Is You'. Game Developers Conference 2020. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
- Lambie, Ryan (7 March 2019). "Pushing boundaries with Baba is You". Wireframe. 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.
- 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.
- Cowley, Ric. "Baba is You Switch review - "Puzzling perfection in every way"". Pocket Gamer. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
- Couture, Joel. "Road to the IGF: Hempuli Oy's Baba Is You". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 8 March 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
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- Bolding, Jonathan (17 November 2019). "Baba is You has a cross-platform level editor coming". PC Gamer. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- "'Hi, I'm Hempuli, the developer of Baba Is You. Ask me anything!' on Reddit".
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- MacLeod, Riley (13 March 2019). "A Puzzle Game Where You Rewrite The Rules Of Each Level". Kotaku. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
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- "2019 Nominees". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers. 13 January 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
- Stuart, Keith (3 March 2020). "Death Stranding and Control dominate Bafta games awards nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
- Sato (18 April 2020). "Here Are the Winners of the Famitsu Dengeki Game Awards 2019". Siliconera. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
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- "Best of 2019: New Releases". Steam. Valve. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
- "A Look Back - The Best of 2019". Steam. Valve. 26 December 2019. Archived from the original on 28 December 2019. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
- Gordon, Lewis (October 9, 2019). "Indie game makers open up about the money they actually make". The Verge. Retrieved October 12, 2019.