As I scale the sides of apartment blocks with climbing axes and pole-vault through windows, I often feel like I’m breaking Babbdi. I feel I’ve done something particularly clever or busted outside the boundaries of its little brutalist city. I haven’t, but I’m delighted to explore with this feeling. Oh sure, my objective in this splendid free indie game is to find a way out of the terrible city, but I’ll enjoy my final hour here. You might too.
Babbdi is set in a city of the same name, a tangle of near-derelict concrete apartment blocks and concrete alleyways and concrete canals. It is a bad place to live. But it’s a delightful place to visit and explore. Stepping into the shoes of a resident trying to leave, all you need to do is catch a train. This proves more complicated than expected, albeit because most of my hour-long playthrough was spent exploring, chatting, and mucking about.
Exploration is made delightful by items you can find scattered about. A baseball bat which can bash down barriers as well as rocketjump and walljump. A motorbike to zoom around. A detector to find the optional collectibles. A torch. A leafblower. Other such devices and doodads, whose purpose I’ll leave you to discover.
You can only hold one item at a time, so I was constantly swapping between them to check out my other options. It is very funny to swap a very powerful item for a trumpet because surely a trumpet is useful for something? Reader dear, I never did find out if it had a practical purpose. But as I walked around, clicking out trumps and looking up and down to alter the pitch as I tried trumping to people or simply entertaining myself with silly noises, I didn’t miss my handheld flying machine at all. Then I found the pole vault, and that brought new fresh new troubles. Inefficient, sure, but great fun.
I like exploring this weird, unpleasant place, not quite sure what’s going on, not quite sure if I’m doing something that’s meant to happen or not. It’s a bit Bernband, a bit Off-Peak, a bit freeform explore-o-platformer? And a lot good.
Babbdi is available free from Steam for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It’s made by two brothers, Léonard and Sirius Lemaitre.
If you want a little more action in your Brutalism, do check out the excellent recent Brutalist map pack for Quake. That’ll have you fighting demons in 35 eerie spaces inspired by housing estates, museums, galleries, and other such colossal concrete creations.