Puzzle games represent one of the most diverse and interesting gaming genres today. Look at optical delights like Manifold Garden, ultra-minimalistic games like Two Dots, or elaborate, brain-breaking escape games like Samsara Room. Cast a stone in any direction in a room full of the best Android puzzle games, and you'll likely hit upon something great. But the arrival of the critically acclaimed Baba Is You on the Play Store is especially great news for Android gamers.
Baba Is You's premise, like most good puzzle games, is incredibly simple at first glance. In a pixelated 2D plane, you control a little creature (A rabbit? A cat? It could be anything if you squint hard enough) and must guide your little Baba to the goal. Now, what's the goal exactly? That's a great question, and it's harder to answer than you might think — since the goal changes from one level to the next.
Baba Is You establishes a simple set of rules that govern how you move around in and interact with each level:
- "Baba Is You." You are controlling the little white cat thing.
- "Flag Is Win." You must guide the cat creature to the flag to achieve success.
- "Wall Is Stop." You cannot move through walls.
The great twist, though? These rules are made to be broken, twisted, and bent to your will. The "rules" in question are actually physical blocks that you can interact with in each level. Push "Flag" out of the equation, and nothing "Is Win," so there is no longer a win condition in that level. You can quite literally break the game, which is something that Baba Is You encourages.
If you can't reach the Flag, break the logic and make "Wall Is Win" instead. Or if walls block your path, break "Wall Is Stop" so you can walk right through them. As levels get harder, certain rules are placed where Baba can't reach them, and more complicated rulesets are added. I must adapt to the new rules and available paths for each new level before I can figure out the solution.
How am I going to get to the goal? Answering that question again and again and again is extremely satisfying in this exceptionally clever game. I've already found myself stumped a few times; more often than not, once I finally solve a puzzle I've been stuck on, I feel incredibly silly for missing such an obvious solution. But that's the joy of the game: you have to think so far outside the box most of the time that changing your logic to think back inside the box becomes challenging all on its own.
I'll admit, Baba Is You can occasionally be infuriating. Thankfully, levels open up on the overworld in such a way that you can often skip a level you might be stuck on in favor of going and trying another one instead. This is a really nice touch to help keep you playing, even if you can't solve a particular puzzle at the time.
Control-wise, this game couldn't be simpler, and the mobile port runs beautifully. You just swipe your finger up, down, left, and right to move your little bunny-cat. If you find that you need to restart an entire level because you've dug yourself too deep, you can easily do so with a tap of the reset button on the left side. But if you only need to undo a couple of moves, you can flick two fingers down the screen in a quick swipe to backtrack just a little.
The only possible complaint that I can think of with Baba Is You is that the minimalist, 16-bit soundtrack isn't amazing. Don't get me wrong, some of those tunes are very nice, but they're mostly just fine. Then again, I don't think anyone is playing Baba Is You for a killer soundtrack.
At $6.99, this premium game is a steal compared to its pricier older brother, the $15 Nintendo Switch version. With hundreds of levels to work your way through, it's a fantastic value for a game that you can pick up, play for five minutes, and put back down or just as easily funnel hours into because you can't tear yourself away—just one more level!
Now I'm hungry for babaganoush
Bend your mind and bend the rules
Make the rules, break the rules, and shape Baba's world to your needs to get to the goal.
A lifelong gamer, Mogan has had a controller in hand since the PlayStation 1 ruled the world and Neopets seemed eternal. She loves to play new and old games alike, especially if it's something weird and charming. Puzzlers, JRPGs, adventure, and rhythm games are her favorites.