Babylon’s Fall is unsatisfying. Nearly every aspect of the game is either monotonous, unappealing, or confusing. The story is grating, the combat is dull, the visuals are muddled, and the mission structure is bland. Please do not play Babylon’s Fall.
Developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix, Babylon’s Fall is an action-RPG wherein up to four players group up to fight through enemies to acquire stronger loot and equipment. You take control of a Sentinel, a prisoner of a vast empire who has been outfitted with a special device called a Gideon’s Coffin to explore a tower called Ziggurat and fight monsters called Gallu that lie within.
Within the first few minutes of playing, I’m warned that I must link a Square Enix profile to my character and that I am unable to delete the character that I create (I suspect this is due to the battle pass). Not that the choices you choose in creation matter that much — beyond the sparse customization options, the only slightly noteworthy choice involves picking one of three races, which doesn’t have much of an effect in the grand scheme of things, it turns out. But once you finalize your character, it doesn’t get much better.
For one, it’s visually unappealing. The art style is meant to evoke European oil paintings, with a brush stroke filter applied over the entire game. In practice, it makes Babylon’s Fall look like, at best, a game from the PS3-era. The characters are of particularly low quality, with the aesthetic making them look muddled and stiff when they move. Coupled with uninspiring environments and level design, as well as the fact that the details are hard to parse in combat due to the distance the camera is from the action, and the visuals are easily among the weakest I’ve seen for a title from a major publisher in some time.
The story itself is forgettable in the best of times and grating at the worst — and the worst is the norm more often than not. The writing is weak, with the characters given little time to develop outside the broadest strokes. At one point, a character who tortured you and was presented as villainous is quickly transitioned into being your friend with little in the way of build up.
Cutscenes are stilted and overlong, though not much information is presented within them funnily enough. Much of the context behind character motivations and story events is only presented in conversations with NPCs in the hub area, none of whom are present in the story itself and are never pointed out or spoken of in any way.
That is also true for much of the hub area itself. Beyond the shop and the mission board, nothing is ever explained or presented effectively in between missions. How do you engage in multiplayer with friends? Figure it out yourself. How do you get rid of the notification for items in your inbox? Figure it out yourself. Where is the inbox? Figure it…you get the idea. I’m not asking to be handheld through every element of the game, but considering that a large portion of the introduction is spent pointing out the microtransaction shop, some time could have been better spent elsewhere.
“If there was anything that could have been the saving grace for Babylon’s Fall, it would be the combat.”
If there was anything that could have been the saving grace for Babylon’s Fall, it would be the combat. And it does have some interesting ideas. The aforementioned Gideon’s Coffin lets you wield four weapons at once, which float behind your back and are assigned to one of four buttons.
Each of the weapon types also has a different effect depending on the button assigned, such as the sword gaining quick slashes when assigned to the light attack button, the hammer gaining massive charged attacks when assigned to heavy attacks, and the shield gaining a large area of effect wall when assigned to the shoulder buttons.
It’s an interesting idea that is hobbled by one major problem — the combat in Babylon’s Fall is slow and awkward. Wielding four weapons at once is fun, at first, but enemies have far too much health, causing fights to descend into repetitive attacks that take longer than they should. Even as you unlock more abilities and equipment over the course of the game, fights remain tedious.
And the reason for that lies in the worst aspect of Babylon’s Fall: how it’s structured. Each mission you go on follows the same format. You will journey through linear corridors, take part in minor and uninteresting platforming sections, and fight enemies in larger areas. With rare exception, this is how every single mission progresses.
It is endless corridors, made different only by the layer of the Ziggurat that you are fighting in. There is no exploration, with chests filled with loot being adjacent to the path at best. The puzzles are repetitive, and you will see the same ones again and again. Combine this with the poor aesthetic and bland combat, and you will grow tired quickly.
Even once you get past the story missions and unlock optional quests to complete for the promise of more loot, you will run through the same corridors that you did before. The introduction of new elements, crafting, and other mechanics later in the game does nothing to alleviate the growing boredom. And just like the “best” of live-service games, the equipment you wield is more often than not used solely because it has a bigger power level on it.
I could go on about the problems I have with Babylon’s Fall. I could elaborate on the inability to change your equipment mid-mission, the strange and awkward presentation of the UI, or the utter grind that is levelling up the battle pass. But these are minor problems on top of the heap of issues that the game has. So I’ll say this instead: I cannot recommend Babylon’s Fall to anyone. Even if the game was free-to-play, I still wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It’s just that bad.