[Image courtesy of Linux Game Consortium.]
Solving puzzles through different mediums can lead to unexpected and challenging solving experiences.
One advantage that video game puzzles have over their pencil-and-paper counterparts is that, while the paper puzzles are a one-stop shop for a puzzle experience, there’s no adaptation, no evolution, no development for the solver or chance to build upon what they’ve learned through multiple solves or repetition.
In video game puzzles, on the other hand, repetition is the name of the game. New skills and techniques are immediately tested by clever twists on established puzzles, so you’re never resting on your puzzly laurels.
For example, while discussing the classic puzzle platforming game Portal, my friend once described it as a game that reprograms your brain with each puzzle you solve, transforming alongside the player. (This is also a hallmark of many of the puzzle games offered by our friends at ThinkFun.)
[Image courtesy of Game Informer.]
That sort of reprogramming is at the heart of the puzzle experience in a new game called Baba Is You.
In Baba Is You, the gameplay consists of objects to move and manipulate, as well as word blocks that form rules for the game itself. You start off by being able to move Baba, a small rabbit-like creature, around obstacles, with the goal of reaching a golden flag. So, the word blocks read “Baba is you” and “flag is win,” which both tell you the starting rules and the goal.
[Image courtesy of Kotaku.]
By changing these word blocks, you change the rules, effectively reprogramming what you can do in each level.
Kotaku explains this concept well:
One clump might say “Baba is you,” which means Baba is the character you control. Another might say “Rock is push,” which means you can push rocks, or “Wall is stop,” which means you can’t walk through walls…
You rearrange individual words to solve the puzzles. There are usually multiple options, depending on where the words are placed. In the above example, you could remove “stop” from “wall” and pass through the barrier. You could attach “wall” to “is push” instead of “is stop” and push it out of the way. You could make yourself the wall by pushing the word “wall” before “is you.” Or you could make the wall the win condition and touch that instead of the flag.
[Image courtesy of Kotaku.]
So, essentially, you solve each puzzle by obeying the rules, changing the rules, and then obeying the new rules. And since puzzles are all about figuring out how to accomplish tasks by adhering to certain rules, this creates a fascinating new style of puzzle. It’s almost like improvisational comedy or Calvinball, except it’s not played for humor.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a puzzle game that lets you alter HOW you play as drastically and as simply as this. You literally make and break the rules here, depending on how clever you are.
Baba Is You is available for PC and Switch, and I look forward to seeing more diabolical puzzling like this in the future.
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