Courtesy of the folks at Baobab Studios, I’ve been looking over Baba Yaga, a recently released VR immersive experience which I’ve been checking over on the standalone Oculus Quest 2. While we’re working hard to find an easy way to capture video from the VR platform, we’ve got a full written review just here, along with our usual common-sense parent’s guide and accessibility ratings.
Named after the many-faced being of Slavic legend, Baba Yaga follows the story of Magda and Sasha, who must travel into the foreboding forest to seek a cure for your mother, the village chief. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t approach Baba Yaga expecting an all singing and dancing video game, but rather an immersive VR experience,
As an interactive movie it does well, with a good mix of light and shade in the narrative. While it’s not the longest experience, at just shy of half an hour for a single playthrough, I’ve found myself caring for the characters and the story much more than I thought I would as I began. The mix of different endings depending on your choices in the title has been a nice touch.
Baba Yaga is rated by PEGI at 7 and above, and while we’ve not been able to find an ESRB rating that 7-plus seems to be pretty spot on. The title is mostly family friendly, though it’s important to note that it does have some elements of fear which may be exacerbated with the VR nature of the experience.
I’m happy to say that this is one which I will be letting the Micro-Bandits get involved with. While the PEGI warning lists mild violence there’s not a great deal which I’ve had a problem with, and no blood or gore.
In terms of accessibility, Baba Yaga is picking up our lowest rating of Casual. This is a nice experience which should be suitable for everybody, and with the narrative nature of the immersive experience it’s one which should be accessible for most. In terms of controls, the Quest’s Touch controllers do a great job, but the title also takes advantage of hand-tracking which is a nice touch.
In terms of VR accessibility specifically, this is one which I’ve had no problems with at all. On the Oculus Store the title officially supports standing and roomscale environments, but in honesty I’ve also enjoyed it sitting down. I’ve not had any motion sickness at all from this one, and it’s a great title to get involved with if you’re looking to get your VR legs before heading into less comfortable experiences.
Visuals – Good (4/5): I really love the art style used here, and for the most part it’s been a smooth ride throughout. If you do have a roomscale environment getting up close with scenery and characters isn’t a problem, and the only reason this has dropped to Good rather than Great is a small number of frame rate drops here and there.
Audio – Great (5/5): There’s a truly stunning voice cast here including Glen Close, Kate Winslet, Daisy Ridley and jennifer Hudson. The all-star female cast do a beautiful job, supported brilliantly by some great audio effects and music throughout.
Narrative – Good (4/5): I’ve really enjoyed the story here, and my only real complaint is that I would have liked to have seen more of it. At just under half an hour it’s not the longest experience, but it does present some great choices for you to make in game, which will lead you to a small number of different endings available.
Replay – Fair (3/5): There are a number of different endings available here, depending on the choices you make throughout your playthrough. This does give a good pull to run back through the story, and the title helps by pulling you back to the right points to make them should you choose to give it another go. This one has dropped down simply due to the fairly short nature of the title, as you’ll be able to experience all of the endings within a short number of hours.
Overall the Pixel Bandits Баба-Яга Level for Baba Yaga is Grab It!. It’s vital that you don’t come into this experience expecting an action packed video game. Instead Baobab Studios have delivered exactly what they are known for (and why they are 6-time Emmy award winners), with an immersive narrative experience.
This one is especially great for those who are looking for immersion without the motion sickness that can often come with VR. It’s a relatively short experience compared to some games which you can pick up, but it is one which I think is worth the money, if you’re looking for a family-friendly immersive experience.