Geek Culture’s App Of The Month #1 (March 2022): Baba Is You

Wordle, the daily word-guessing game that has gone viral, speaks to the problem-solving instinct that seems innate to many. It is so popular that the New York Times bought it from its original creator for an undisclosed sum in the low seven figures. The simple word puzzle can be an appetiser building up to meatier puzzle games for the connoisseur. It’s undeniable that puzzles have a certain appeal, and even those who are not puzzle fans find themselves making at least half-hearted attempts at tinkering with a Rubik’s Cube. For this week’s Geek Culture’s App Of The Month, we bring your attention to arguably the best puzzle game of all time, Baba Is You

While most puzzle games have players play within the rules, trying to find the solutions that conform to a given ruleset, Baba Is You sets itself apart by having the play be about changing the rules. The rules of any given level are presented in movable blocks of text, which can be pushed and changed around so the player can achieve specific goals. For example, if a rock needs to be moved, the sentence “ROCK IS PUSH” has to be formed. However, if the sentence isn’t formed, then the rock cannot be moved. 

Baba is you

By having the core rules depend on language, the game sidesteps the mindless trial-and-error approach that some puzzles lend themselves to way too easily, like the Rubik’s Cube for example. Those types of puzzles are not friendly to the average solver, as it can be tough to know how to make progress when one is stuck. However, since language is something that we learn and use since birth, Baba Is You steers players towards a thought process that involves thinking about the rules that need to be in place for a level to be solved. This, then, leads to players assessing the level itself, and figuring out how to push the blocks of text around to achieve those favourable rules. It removes a layer of abstraction, making use of the familiarity players have with words to its advantage.

Being a puzzle game that focuses on manipulating with the rules, many levels do have multiple solutions, which is also part of the charm. This is a game that doesn’t lead to banging one’s head against the wall repeatedly, stuck in a loop of trying the same thing over and over again. Also, the game maintains a smooth difficulty curve while giving players multiple levels to choose from without being overwhelming. The later levels do get crazy complicated and mind-blowing, and the way the Baba Is You builds up the player’s ability to solve those puzzles is impressive. 

For puzzle connoisseurs, this is a no-brainer (pun intended). It’s inventive, unique, fair, and full of surprises. For the more casual puzzler, Baba Is You’s accessibility means that it’s a great option for those who want a game with a lot of content while being neither impossible to play after just a few levels nor too much of a walk in the park. With a mobile version available, it’s easy to play a level or two while commuting, or during short breaks.

If Wordle leaves you wanting more puzzle goodness, Baba Is You is the cure. The game is available on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

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