This review was originally created in December 2018 for HTC, targeted to their original Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT) and Oculus Rift. It is reproduced here without alteration.
Although an unsupervised baby is a parent’s worst nightmare, the concept has proven to be great fun in fiction. Perhaps the first popular example of an all-too-clever baby getting into all kinds of trouble on its own was in the 1956 Tom and Jerry animated short, Busy Buddies. In that cartoon, Tom the cat and Jerry the mouse play against type and team up to keep a baby safe when Jeannie, the babysitter, is more interested in talking on the phone than looking after her unstoppable, crawling charge.
It wouldn’t be until the 1990s, and the Nickelodeon cartoon classic, Rugrats, however, that the lead babies and toddlers would get into some real adventures on their own, with typically only the audience as any real witness to the imaginative antics.
The Rugrats crew was led by Tommy Pickles, a brave, kind, loyal, and adventurous baby, with the opening credits famously taking partial place from his crawling, and barely standing and walking, point of view. It’s this concept and how the show’s babies make it out of their baby fence to go on their imaginative adventures that proves the inspiration for Baby Hands.
Baby Hands casts you as a precocious baby left to his or her own devices in a small home full of life-size rooms to explore and all kinds of objects to interact with. You get around mostly through crawling with your hands but can also stand for short periods if you need to see a bit higher than ground level.
Designed for Vive, Vive Pro, or Oculus Rift owners, the game can be played seated or standing in a room-scale environment. Each controller represents one of your baby hands.
As is typical for a sandbox game, there are a lot of things in each room to interact with; use of your imagination is encouraged. While the game contains some low- to medium-difficulty puzzles, the main goal is really just to explore and do things from the perspective of a baby. In fact, it’s designed so you can safely do all the things that a baby shouldn’t do, like say, drop items in a toilet, or get some pricey electronics wet.
Sound is sparse, consisting of simple sound effects for the objects you interact with. While the visuals are similarly simple, they’re cleanly rendered and well-colored, creating a convincing, cartoon-like environment to crawl around in.
While it’s something of a marvel all the puzzles, mini-games, and fun discoveries the developers have packed into this experience, the game itself is not without its issues. Regardless of how clever the setup of playing from the perspective of a baby, the “authentic” crawling motion you need to make with your hands to move about is slow and does get tiresome after a while. It’s also this necessarily low perspective that can cause some trouble for the game engine, as you can sometimes inadvertently reset your orientation below the plane of the floor.
Despite some of its frustrations, the overall Baby Hands experience is to be commended. If you can deal with the somewhat slow pace and simulation, unintentional or not, of how hard it can be at times for a baby to easily manipulate objects, there’s a lot to do and like here. And if you’re a fan of Rugrats, all the better, as it gives new meaning to Tommy Pickles’ motto of, “A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do!”.
Score: 4 out of 5 stars.