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Baba is You is a 2019 Block Puzzle game by Arvi Teikari (of Hempuli Oy, the maker of Environmental Station Alpha), based on a prototype originally made for Nordic Game Jam 2017. However, this game is not an ordinary block puzzler; the twist is that the rules are physically present in the game as blocks that can be pushed around to form new rules. Hence, you can (among other things) transform water into lava, walk over walls that were previously impassable, and even change the player character and goal of the level!

The game was released on March 13, 2019, for Steam and Nintendo Switch. You can find the former version here. Additionally, the Nordic Game Jam prototype of the game is available on Hempuli's itch.io page.

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  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The Chasm world, as well as ABC and the endgame worlds ???, Depths, and Meta don't stick to one solitary level theme.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Every creature in the game, excluding Anni and possibly Me.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The game's official Twitter page parodied this trope by giving Baba Angry Eyebrows.
  • Antepiece: The first set of levels in an area usually introduces a new word to play with, like "AND" or "OPEN", or a new concept like a set of rules that make a given object unchangeable. The first ever level alone gives you a set of rules to play around with. "Center" requires you to assemble a rule that something is "Done" (it floats off into oblivion) to gain access to an "All" noun. Assembling "All is Done" gives you one of the game's endings — guess what happens in it.
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  • Anthropomorphic Shift: Inverted. In the prototype of the game, Baba was clearly a bipedal creature that looked akin to the titular Hollow Knight. In the final game, Baba is a quadripedal Cartoon Creature.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The endgame worlds Depths, Meta, and Center are made available from the overworld map once they are accessed for the first time, and within those worlds, shortcuts are made as levels are completed; this helps reduce the amount of times one has to recomplete map puzzles whenever access to these levels is needed.
  • Armless Biped: Keke and Me; the former is orange and has no mouth, while the latter is purple and has a mouth.
  • Artifact of Doom: The "Done" keyword found in The End, the major level of the Center overworld. If anything is "Done", it is irrevocably erased from the game world. And the goal of the level is to make "All is Done"...
  • Automatic New Game: Besides the quick awards/charity/porting credits screen before every boot, starting up the game for the first time immediately presents you with a unique cutscene of the tutorial level coming into being by lotus flowers before dropping you directly into it. After beating it, the game begins proper and every subsequent booting of the game will then show the title screen.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: This trope features as one of the many objects in the game.
  • Block Puzzle: The main theme of the game, but with the twist that the rules can be changed as necessary to solve the puzzle. However, in some levels certain rules are inaccessible and thus absolute. Though not as many rules as you'd expect once you really start thinking outside the box.
  • Cartoon Creature: Baba is a white quadruped critter that doesn't have much to define their general species. Due to their name and appearance, a lot of fans assume they're a sheep (specifically, a ewe).
  • Combinatorial Explosion: Zigzagged. Many levels ensure you only solve it in a specific way with its text but the game will occasionally throw a curveball and demand alternate, unorthodox solutions.
  • Concept Art Gallery: There is one available in the very last world, accessible by collecting at least three bonus orbs. Being a proper level, you'll have to move letters around to form number words and push them into "Image is..." to view the art.
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: Several puzzles give you multiple "Not" keywords. Exaggerated by Meta-10, "Just No", which gives you nine "Not"s for the sole purpose of building a rule across an uncrossable line of deadly skulls. Make sure the "Not"-bridge has the right parity!
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Text, which defines what everything else does. Text is the only object in the entire game that can have properties not defined by Text — under normal circumstances, Text is Push.
  • Credits Gag: In a darkly humorous way, the credits obtained through the secret ending. They start out not-quite-normal before devolving into a messy jumble of random letters. Understandable, given that the player has just deleted the game's rules.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Invoked; certain puzzles will require you to fully grasp the rules of a level instead of thinking in terms of conventional block puzzle games. One early level gets this point across by only being possible to solve when you realize there is no actual rule stating "Wall is Stop", only "Grass is Stop".
  • Developers' Foresight: Practically a selling point. Some of the more obscure cases include:
    • Text is pushable by default. This can be circumvented by constructing the rule "Text is NOT Push".
    • The rule "[Object] is Text" specifically converts the mentioned object into the word corresponding with itself.
    • Declaring the rule "[Object X] is NOT [Object Y]" prevents X being changed to Y through other rules. Declaring that an object is not itself causes it to disappear in a Puff of Logic.
    • In the image gallery 'level' near the end, viewing an image requires you to spell numbers out. There are indeed images for "Fourteen", "Sixteen", and "Minus One/Two/Three/Ten" in addition to the expected "One" through "Ten".
  • Drone of Dread: Altering the "[X] Is You" in any level such that you can no longer control any object in a level stops the music and plays this instead. The secret ending also replaces the title screen music with this, and the only way to return the normal music is to quit the game.
  • Dug Too Deep: When you get past the Depths and the Meta overworlds, there's one last area, the Center. There, you can find the level titled The End, surrounded by flower petals like the similar function "End" in Level Finale, which has one last keyword to play with, "Done". However, that keyword turns out to be incredibly powerful, capable of erasing objects outright (more so than making "X is Empty"), and to get the secret ending you'll need to use the keyword in relation to "All".
  • Dummied Out: The Level Editor was left inaccessible on initial release due to being only partly finished, but a little hacking could bring it back.
  • Eternal Engine: Solitary Island has some elements of this, with cogs and robots and pipes.
  • Fill It with Flowers: Completing areas in the game results in flowers appearing, and the standard ending has flowers bloom all over the island.
  • Forced Tutorial: A more mild example; the tutorial level is unskippable, but players who don't feel like sticking around for long can just hold right to finish the level fairly quickly. The level itself presents the four most common "X is Y" combinations — Baba is You, Wall is Stop, Rock is Push, and Flag is Win — and allows for some free experimentation on pushing text around and changing what is what.
  • Foreshadowing: The overworld map shows a couple of rules at the bottom-right corner as an example of what kind of rules to expect in the levels proper. At least, that's what it seems. Later it turns out those rules directly apply to the overworld.
  • Gimmick Level: The last "normal" world, ABC, uses large individual letters to spell out phrases instead of tiles containing words. It's also notably shorter than the other endgame worlds, though some of its concepts return in Meta.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: Your introduction to the "Shift" property is the conveyor belt. Several puzzles will involve manipulating the belts or the "Shift" property so they're not inconveniently placed.
  • Instant KO: Anything that is either "Defeat" or "Sink" will adhere to this trope in different ways. "Defeat" objects only affect things that are "You" (i.e. player-controlled objects), while "Sink" objects can destroy anything that isn't "Float" but at their own expense. Objects that are "Melt" are also destroyed by anything that is "Hot".
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Anything that is "Stop", even things you wouldn't normally expect like "Grass" or "Empty". "Stop" even stops objects with the "Float" property.
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Things that are "Open" don't have to be keys, and things that are "Shut" don't have to be doors, but if one of each touch each other they're both destroyed.
  • Interface Screw:
    • Level Overworld-8, thanks to the rule "Level is Move".
    • Depths-5, Living Lands instead uses "Level is You" to move the level outside the screen.
    • Depths-2, Exercise Hall is even worse because the level will rotate whenever the statement "Level is..." is completed by a directional keyword.
  • I Was Told There Would Be Cake: The object "Cake" appears in the final secret level and absolutely nowhere else. Unfortunately, Baba can't eat it.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: The overworld has ten worlds and ten large flowers to obtain. However, there are actually twelve flowers total. Where are the last flowers? One is in the ABC world, accessed from the ??? world as opposed to the main overworld. The other is in the Center world, accessed by beating Meta-15, The Box.
  • Lethal Lava Land: The Volcanic Cavern, which introduces lava, bats and fire. Immediate incineration not included.
  • Level Editor: There is one currently in development for the full game. The prototype also has one, accessible by hitting either the '~' or '\' key.
  • Level Goal: Anything that is "Win" will serve as this. Some puzzles revolve around assembling a rule using that keyword in order to beat the level.
  • Line Boil: The game's art style incorporates this. Interestingly, there's an option to turn it off.
  • MacGuffin: Upon entering the final worlds of the game, the player can locate and obtain three "orbs" from three different secret levels.
  • Mind Screw: Changing levels into Baba and Flags to "win" the Overworld map is already one; once you're "brought back to the map screen" from the Overworld, it only gets deeper from there, with level select screens that are levels in of themselves.
  • Multiple Endings: The "final level" is either the one that appears directly on the island after beating enough levels, or one that appears deep into a series of levels and interconnected worlds accessible by "winning" the map screen.
  • My Name Is ???: There is an entire world called "???", as well as a single level named "?" which contains one of the three bonus orbs.
  • Never Say "Die": In the prototype there was a keyword, "Kill", that destroyed player objects. In the full game, that got changed to "Defeat". In the endgame, there is also "Done".
  • Ninja Prop: There are many instances where the text not only helps generate rules that serve to solve a puzzle, but also as physical objects themselves to block or push other elements.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: The only plot is largely implied, stemming from the two endings: causing the island to bloom with flowers or destroying it entirely.
  • Obvious Rule Patch:
    • All rules are derived from Text, with three exceptions; Text Is Push, which is only disabled if "Text is not Push" is assembled within the level, Cursor Is Select that allows the player to move the overworld map selector cursor, but only on the designated pathways and the levels and Level Is Stop which means only the Cursor object, or anything else explicitly defined to be Select, may move onto a Level object. Level Is Stop also defines the edges of a level as impassable — once you gain access to Level keywords, you'll find that they do a lot of work.
    • Later levels start putting down seemingly irrelevant rules that don't come into play until players start running into unintended solutions. The game tends to be pretty good about making sure you need to solve levels in a specific way, but some alternate solutions still manage to squeak by.
  • Off the Rails: Taken to a ludicrous degree with the "Level" object, which lets you alter an entire level. This lets you change a level to any object, and that level will show up on the overworld as that object, meaning you can change a level in to "Baba" and another into "Flag", meaning you can win the overworld and be taken to the overworld above the overworld. And this is only the tutorial for the "Level" object. You can go above and beyond, positioning the level selector over a controlled object that used to be a level, allowing you to ride that level anywhere. Entire lategame areas have their map essentially become levels themselves, and you have to play the levels inside levels to turn levels into ridable objects to turn more levels into objects for the level. You can even turn objects on a map into even more levels. Yep.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Anything that is "Weak" will be destroyed by anything it touches, even non-Instant KO objects.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Encouraged, especially for later levels. For example, the usual inaccessible rules that make up the general laws of a level may not be as inaccessible as you think.
    • One of the levels from the endgame world Meta, suitably named "The Box". The level is unsolvable in of itself, but the real solution is to change the adjacent level into a flag, before returning to The Box and constructing "Level Near Flag Is Win" to win; thus, the player is literally thinking outside The Box.
  • Playable Menu: The world maps are set up similarly to the game levels. Some of them even have rules that are summarized on the pause menu just like the ones in the levels. However, they don't enter into gameplay until you turn some of the levels into objects...
  • Player Character: Anything that is "You" can be controlled by the player. This makes that keyword the most vital one in the game—if nothing is defined as "You" at any point, the level becomes unplayable unless you set it up so that a moving object (such as one that is "Move" or on another object that is "Shift") returns control to you by restoring an "X is You" rule. Some levels outright require that level of forethought.
  • Player Nudge: If you push text around such that nothing is You, the music cuts out, leaving only a Drone of Dread. If you wait a few moments in this state, the game will remind you of the Undo and Restart commands.
  • Power of the Void: The "Empty" noun, which manipulates every empty tile on the level. "Empty is [Noun]" will continuously fill all blank spaces with that noun, "Empty is You" lets you control all empty space in the level (which naturally gets destroyed if it occupies a space that an object is already in), and "[Noun] is Empty" makes all of that object spontaneously disappear.
  • Puff of Logic: Naturally, when assembling "X is Y" combinations, the effect of those phrases take effect immediately. For example, if "Lava is Hot" is already in the level, making "Lava is Melt" causes the lava to promptly melt itself and dissipate into vapors.
  • Press X to Die: Assembling any "Text is [Noun]" rule will turn all the text into something else if said text is not being protected — without its Cosmic Keystones, the level will be completely inert. Similarly, some levels allow you to assemble rules like "All is Empty" or "Level is Weak" which destroy every object in the level instantly. One of the game's endings occurs when you assemble the rule "All is Done".
  • Primordial Chaos: The intro shows many objects floating around, all in an inert state and in disarray. The universe is created when lotus flowers form Text, which gives order to the floating objects and bestows upon them unique properties. The largest lotus forms the You keyword, which also organizes any of the objects that weren't handled by the other words.
  • Programming Game: Has elements of this, letting you input and change rules around in order to find the solution. Becomes closer to the usual definition of this when you have to utilize "Move" to have certain objects act automatically rather than controlling them directly.
  • Recurring Riff: A few notes play during the opening sequence, in tune with the lotuses appearing for the non-noun Text words. They recur during the main theme, and for the jingle in the normal ending.
  • Recursive Reality: The entire basis for the endgame worlds. Maps contain levels, and beating levels returns one to the map screen. The thing is, though, maps are also levels; once one "wins" the overworld map, they are returned to the map that contained the overworld map, which opens up the secret final worlds.
  • Resurrective Immortality: "Has" is a connector word that causes all objects of a certain type to spawn another object if the first object is destroyed. If an object "has" itself, it will spawn a copy of itself whenever it is destroyed, which will spawn another copy of itself when it is destroyed, and so on, virtually making it No-Sell "sink", "hot", "defeat", and other such modifiers.
  • Rewriting Reality: The other main theme of the game. The rules exist in-game as basic sentences that define the behaviors of certain objects (e.g. "Wall is Stop" or "Rock is Push"). Altering the sentences will alter those rules (hence, you could push away the "Stop" from "Wall is Stop" to walk through walls). That said, there are certain limitations to add to the challenge:
    • Rules must always occupy a minimum of three spaces, and are always read left to right (for horizontal rules) or top to bottom (for vertical rules), so "Push Is Rock" is not a valid rule nor is overlapping text to make "Rock/Is Push" valid.
    • The rules must read like complete sentences of the form "[Reference] [Connector] [Keyword]" (at minimum):
      • [Reference] is a reference to a non-text (usually) game object (such as the character Baba or a rock rather than the words representing them),
      • [Keyword] is either a descriptor (denoted with a colored box) that defines the behavior of an object, or another reference (for transforming objects), and
      • [Connector] is a structural word such as "is" or "has" that connects keywords together without being either a keyword or reference itself;
    • Negative rules (which contain the special connector "NOT") override their positive counterparts (hence, "Wall is NOT You" overrides "Wall is You"); and
    • Tautological rules override transformative rules (e.g. if there is a rule saying "Box is Box", any rule saying "Box is [Anything Else]" will do nothing).
    • When spelling out rules with letters (as in one late game area), all readings of letters will apply to functions. So "W-A-L-L Is Box" will also be read as "A-L-L Is Box". However, words which don't define functions in the game will not be active, so something like "Box Is G-H-O-S-T-A-R Is Fall" will be read as "Box Is Ghost" and "Star Is Fall", but not "Ghostar Is Fall" because "Ghostar" is not a valid function. This is in fact the solution to one of the endgame puzzles.
    • Text that is overlapping Text functions as both simultaneously. If "Text" and "Baba" are overlapping to create "Text/Baba", then joining them to a keyword makes it apply to both Text and Baba.
  • Robot Buddy:
    • Baba in the prototype version, instead of the Cartoon Creature they became in the full game. According to Word of God, this was inspired by a fellow indie developer interpreting the robot's antennae as goat horns and drawing them as a cute goat person.
    • Also, Robots, which partially resemble Baba's original sprite.
  • Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...: One of the levels in the Solitary Island is based on this stock poem (see the quote at the top of the page).
  • Rules Lawyer: It's this in game form. Aside from the unwritten rules around text, only the literal rules matter. If the rules don't say "Wall" is "Stop"...
  • Rule of Symbolism: "You" is a function created spontaneously from nothing that can manipulate other functions, and is associated with unfolding lotus blossoms, which are symbols associated with creation myths. The first ending consumes the lotus flowers and seeds you have obtained by completing levels and causes the island to bloom with life, while the secret ending causes the entire universe to return to the Primordial Chaos shown during the intro sequence, and the cycle of creation begins anew.
  • Secret Level:
    • (Most) Extra levels are not present on the map and are only revealed when beating a level adjacent to them. Often, they are simply harder versions of the level that unlocks them. The Extra levels of the Depths world, except for the first, require you to make "[Object] is Level" to transform the single rock and the two Babas into levels.
    • When starting the game, you may notice a red-violet-colored level isolated on a small island on the overworld. After unlocking the ability to roam the overworld as Baba, the cursor can "ride" Baba to said island, accessing "Level ?: ?".
    • The endgame worlds are all treated as these, as they're not shown on the map and all require successive layers of going deeper and deeper into levels within levels into and then eventually manipulating levels themselves.
    • The first of the endgame worlds, ???, has three. Two of them require you to "select" the rock and the puddle of water to access them, while the third is accessed by completing the world that comes after ??? and collecting its flag..
    • The final endgame world, Meta has a deviously hidden Extra, which the only clue is noticing that one of the blossoms on the overworld is yellow instead of red like the others.
  • Self-Duplication: Anything that is "More" will self-multiply until either there's no more room or that property is taken away. Naturally, this can include player objects.
  • Shaped Like Itself: A rule that "[Object X] is [Object X]" prevents that object from being transformed by "[Object X] is [Object Y]". Usually this is an Obvious Rule Patch stuck in a corner to prevent solving the puzzle in an unintended method, but on a few occasions, you have to assemble one yourself to avoid losing your only "You".
  • Space Zone: One of the sub-areas is outer space, accessible via a Rocket Trip. Notable keywords therein include "Star", "Moon", and "Empty".
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The secret ending, by virtue of you accidentally erasing the whole game world.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Anything that is touching anything that is "Sink" will instantly vanish with a 'sploosh' sound. This will also take the 'liquid' with it, which is occasionally necessary to solve a puzzle.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: A notable subversion: the Poem puzzle featured in the trailer and that serves as the quote at the top of the page is present in the game as an Extra on the Island, but has a different solution.
  • Under the Sea: The Lake, the first sub-area after the tutorial levels.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Several levels in the Space area that revolve around "Fall" turn into more of a platforming challenge about shepherding objects across each other to reach a destination.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • The game in general is polite about this. In addition to the usual traps of block puzzle games, you can also break apart an "X is You" rule, losing control over the object that was "You" in the process. If that was the only such object, the music stops to let you know the level is broken, and eventually remind you that you'll need to undo/restart. Though, if "Move", "Shift" or any similar word were set up to fix things...
    • A level in the final world is also unsolvable within itself and requires an unconventional solution. Level Meta-15 "The Box" cannot be solved if the adjacent level Meta-14 is not a flag, as the only way to clear Meta-15 is to make "Level Near Flag Is Win"
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The "Meta" world provides some of the most complex puzzles the game has to offer. Just navigating the Meta overworld is a puzzle in itself as you'll need to transform its levels into the necessary objects to proceed. Once you're done, all that's left is the Center.
  • Wham Shot: Messing with the "Level" keyword in Overworld-9 and Overworld-10 makes the overworld itself change by turning the levels into objects. From there it's possible to beat the map, 'popping up' to a mysterious new world of which the map is a level. From there, the game slowly dips into a Mind Screw experience as you start messing with entire levels at once, and ultimately, the entire game.

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