Is Babylon’s Fall the next big thing, or a Babylonian Fail? Find out in our review!
From broken matchmaking to a graphical style that just doesn’t hit the mark as well as it should, Babylon’s Fall fails to meet expectations from two of the most renowned publishers in the world. What makes it this way? Find out as we dive deeper into the issues and the highlights, of our time with Babylon’s Fall.
When Babylon’s Fall was first revealed back in 2019, players were treated with what looked to be another Platinum Games classic in the making. Featuring high flying, fast-paced combat, a sweeping orchestral score, and visuals that looked enticing, that is no longer the game that we are being treated to today.
After the mixed reception that Marvel’s Avengers received upon its release, with a plethora of microtransaction riddled costumes, items, and more, players would have figured that Square Enix may have waited a bit longer before trying that formula again. However, they did try it again, but with even worse results this time around.
As you boot into Babylon’s Fall, you are treated with a Square-Enix account log-in, an extra account that is needed to play the game. While this means that you’ll be able to carry your data from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5, or vice versa, you’ll also have another account to create, which can also be confusing. There are currently two different kinds of Square Enix Accounts: Square Enix Members, and Square Enix Accounts. One of these accounts will give you access to games like Marvel’s Avengers, and your other account will grant you access to Final Fantasy XIV. If you don’t have this second account, you’ll need to create it before you can begin playing the game.
Once starting, you’ve treated with a brief cutscene that introduces the story to you, as you are a slave that has been given the Gideon’s Coffin, a device that will kill you if you are not a Sentenial, or will grant you otherworldly powers if you are deemed worthy enough. As the game would not be exciting if you were not worthy, you are granted Spectral Weapons that float behind you, allowing you to use a multitude of attacks to take enemies down.
The story, while passable, is made slightly less enjoyable by the characters that join you on your journey. Paper-thin writing and extremely laughable voice acting sully your enjoyment, as yet another expletive emerges out of the mouth of Gallagher can ruin the emotional impact of a story segment. Thankfully, there is an option to change the voice language to Japanese, which makes it a little more enjoyable, as the delivery is much better than their English-speaking counterparts.
Let’s Talk Visuals
It’s time to address the elephant in the room, however. The visual style of Babylon’s Fall just falls flat. Looking like a Playstation 3 game that most of the textures didn’t load in for, the 18th Century Oil Painting art style just didn’t translate well. In certain screenshots, it can look stunning, but the game, sadly, does not look like that in motion. Blurry textures, jagged edges, and boring dungeon design make this game visually boring, except for a few areas that it does truly excel at.
Armor designs, especially Vanity Items, are a treat to look at. Over-the-top outfits that make your character stand out in a sea of drab and uninspired worlds, you’ll be looking your best when you’re able to equip these flashy garments, alongside the late-game armor sets. For the first couple of hours, your best bet is to find armor that matches your playstyle, and not care if it clashes, as you’ll be on your way to getting better armor in the future.
As per the norm, Platinum Games and Square-Enix did lovingly create an excellent orchestral soundtrack, one that doesn’t belong in a game like this. Swooping strings, chants, and more await you, with ways to keep your pulse-pounding, and on the edge of your seat. Platinum always has some of the best soundtracks in modern games, and this one is no different.
Boss designs are astonishing and show that some love and care went into these fearsome foes. The first boss you face, Zenon, is a towering menace, with screen-filling attacks that can take you down quickly, and they are a joy to witness. The effects laid out when they begin and finish their attacks are full of that Platinum Charm that we have grown to love over the years, with games such as NieR: Automata and Bayonetta.
It’s just a shame that everything in between feels so flat compared to this.
Buy Your Way To A Better Time
Much like the previous Live-Service efforts before, Babylon’s Fall is rife with Microtransactions. However, this time, they’re a bit more egregious. As you enter the HQ, or Hub of the game, you’ll be able to visit the mysterious merchant, Pygmalion to purchase items with your in-game currency called Conch, or spend real-world money to purchase Garaz.
You are tempted right from the get-go to start purchasing Garaz, as the first two menus that appear are items that are only able to be purchased with this currency, which wouldn’t be as bad as it sounds if a set of Armor modeled after an in-game character didn’t cost $15 of your hard-earned cash.
The Conch items pale in grandeur compared to the Garaz items, offering fairly plain, drab, and overall not very exciting items. You’ll be able to give yourself an early game boost by spending 5,000 Conch and getting better items, but when you’re tempted right off of the bat to be able to trounce enemies with exciting armor that offers great stat boosts, something doesn’t feel right.
There is a lot of mentions of the Battle Pass, as well. The first one is given for free, but after the first Season is done, you’ll be looking at an additional $10 per pass. Thankfully, you’ll be able to get some nice items through the free Battle Pass, alleviating some of the pressure from buying items from the Garaz Shop.
But it shows a bit of where their intentions lie when after purchasing a $60 to $70 game, you’re almost immediately granted an opportunity to spend more money. It’s not a good sign of how the game will be perceived, as it was a large red flag that shot up almost instantly.
But, is this acceptable as long as the game plays well? Well, there’s a bit more bad news in that regard, as well.
Flashy Effects with No Staying Power
If you were coming into this game only for Platinum Games’ signature combat feel, at least there’s a glimmer of hope in that regard. While the combat lacks some punch, with most of your attacks feeling as if you are hitting your opponent with a wet pool noodle, the flashy moves you pull off at least feel nice.
You’re granted 4 weapons, which you can purchase more using Conch or Garaz, or earn through your dungeon crawling efforts. Fighting for your life against hordes of enemies, you’ll be competing not only with yourself but with your teammates on scoring the highest and earning medals at the end of each battle. With Stone being the lowest, and Pure Platinum being the highest rank you can get, you’ll receive rankings after each battle to show you how well you did. It’s a shame that the combat isn’t all that rewarding, compared to their previous efforts.
Most encounters can be solved by simple button mashing, with two face buttons, and two shoulder buttons regulating different weapons. Sadly, most enemies that you encounter are melee-sponges, absorbing blow after blow after blow, until they finally are defeated. Not only bosses, but the enemies that you encounter in the dungeons function this way, and if you are playing solo, you’ll be punished by not being able to earn as high of a rank as you would while playing with friends or random others.
After testing this theory, and performing a dungeon once solo, then again with friends, and again solo with the same playstyle that I did, I consistently ranked higher when playing with other people, as the heart of the game lies in its Multiplayer Functionality. The fatal flaw in this, however, is how you need to access Multiplayer to even get your friends to join. It’s incredibly cumbersome, and some form of voice chat is almost required, as if you aren’t all in sync with slamming the update button to try to join a Party Quest, someone may get left behind. There is also no option to play with friends that live in other regions, as the game does not allow for cross-server play, which is an unfortunate oversight.
There is also very little to no reason to explore these dark, dank, and boring dungeons, as you are set on an extremely linear path from Point A to Point B, and while there may be some light platforming that takes place in between these sections, the level design is just as memorable as your cast of characters that join in on your adventure.
If you’re planning on tackling the world solo, be prepared to be punished. If you’re going in with a group of friends, prepare for this game to be a cakewalk of nonstop button mashing. Things can get hectic on the screen, and while it may make the otherwise dull visuals shine for a moment, you’ll also have a hard time looking after where you are. Everything just feels incredibly “grindy”, and detracts from the overall experience a ton.
How Could This Be Fixed?
There is a glimmer of hope for the future of this game, however. As it is a Live-Service game, there are quite a few ways that the developers of this title could fix a lot of the issues that currently reside within it.
Updating the amount of content that the game offers is a great way to continue pushing this game towards success, and fixing a lot of issues that currently reside within. While Square and Platinum currently have an expansive roadmap, offering more story content, weapons, armor, bosses, etc., the success of the game finding its audience will be key in the continued support of this title.
Changing the Matchmaking aspect of this game is going to be a huge factor in how many people find continued enjoyment with it, and adding new areas besides the tired and true linear dungeons that lead to an eventual boss fight could be a huge improvement.
A lot of features came half-baked and could have used a little bit more time in the proverbial oven, so to speak. As of this writing, they are updating and adding classes, but only have 3 slots available. So if you were eager to try out all of the classes in the game to see the differences that they offered, you won’t be able to add the new class, as you can’t delete a character that you have created. They are working on ways to add a new character slot, but in a full-priced game from AAA developers, this was an oversight that should have been caught before release.
While some may enjoy the grind that this game has to offer, the fact that there are so many different issues that plague the game makes this feel, play, and look worse than many Free-To-Play options, and with two of gaming’s juggernauts behind the scenes, this should not be the case in the slightest.
Babylon’s Fall started as something that looked extremely promising, with high octane combat, action, adventure, and more. However, Square-Enix and Platinum Games dropped the ball on this one, as it could have easily used another year’s worth of development before coming out as a full release. The murky visuals, bland dungeon design, boring gameplay overshadow the excellent boss design and a killer soundtrack, making this more of a chore to play and dampening the experience tremendously.
There is no way in good faith that this could be recommended as a full-priced title, however in the future, if they improve upon the many mistakes that are currently in the game, it could be made into what it originally looked to be. There is no reason that a player should need to grind for 20 hours or more, before finally getting to experience a bit more variety in the game, and is a major disappointment in almost every regard.
Babylon’s Fall is available for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC now.