What is it? A forgettable live service offering from an otherwise brilliant developer.
Release date March 3, 2022
Expect to pay $60/£60
Developer Platinum Games
Publisher Square Enix
Reviewed on Intel Core i7-11700K, GeForce RTX 3070, 16GB RAM
Link Official site (opens in new tab)
Platinum Games' inspiration for its first foray into the live-service market is certainly an ironic one. The once great and revered Babylonian empire, now reduced to ruins, serves as a fitting metaphor for the game itself. Far from the consistently exhilarating high-octane combat, unique characters, and fascinating worlds that the studio is synonymous with crafting, Babylon's Fall crumbles under the weight of bland design, repetitive gameplay and prioritisation of paywalls over players.
You play as a Sentinel, a prisoner forced to scale the Ziggurat—based on the mythical Tower of Babel—at the behest of your Neo-Babylonian masters. Equipped with a mysterious artefact called a Gideon Coffin, you ascend the structure's many floors battling blue-hued enemies known as the Gallu. Manage to make it to the top, and you're free of the bizarrely named apparatus that's been forcibly inserted between your shoulder blades. It's not the most inspired of stories by any means, but it does serve as a mildly entertaining means of funnelling you from one area to the next, even if your mute hero does feel wholly insignificant to the events that unfold.
Most of those events are told through oil painting-esque stills, and while they are undoubtedly pretty, this approach comes across as more of a time-saving manoeuvre than an inventive way to weave the game's plot. But considering the rest of the game isn't going to win any beauty contests, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Not only is the aesthetic bland, but there's a woeful lack of detail—particularly in character models—that makes Babylon's Fall look like something that would have been considered outdated if it had been released a decade ago.
The game's starting location, Sentinel Force HQ, serves as a hub area for the usual live-service shenanigans of totting up daily logins, scouting for party members to embark on quests with, and grinding for slightly better gear. And let's not forget the obligatory running around in a mismatched mess of an outfit unless you're willing to cough up actual real-world cash in exchange for some trendy threads that don't make you look like a comedy sidekick.
Far from the varied array of activities that you'd expect to try to lure you away from your main objective, Babylon's Fall offers nothing in the way of sidequests until you've ascended several of the Ziggurat’s floors, each housing half a dozen or so missions each. This forces you to replay the same main quests if you're looking for better loot. But with a woeful lack of variety in terms of gear, unlocks ultimately feel limited and unrewarding, meaning there's very little incentive to embark on quests once, let alone go back for another round.
While it feels far removed from the highly polished Bayonetta and Nier: Automata in every other aspect, the combat still holds Platinum's flair. Your Gideon Coffin isn't just an enslavement device; it also allows you to wield four weapons at once. Two weapons are slotted for physical attacks, one for light attacks, the other heavy, and another two for magic. You can use magical weapons at the same time as landing physical blows making for engaging battles that require a fair amount of multitasking. Dealing magical damage depletes your spirit meter. This is also drained when you dodge, adding an extra tactical element to encounters as you balance your offensive and defensive capabilities. Battles are fast-paced and provide a satisfying blend of physical hacking and slashing, magical attacks and well-timed dodges. Boss encounters are a particular highlight, with spectacularly designed enemies that hit hard.
There's a considerable challenge offered throughout, and even though you can, it's not recommended that you tackle Babylon's Fall solo. Levels consist of large waves of formidable enemies, and their sheer number alone makes being a one-sentinel band problematic. Teaming up allows you to complete levels with relative ease. However, if you don't have a ready-made party, the quiet servers can make finding potential comrades difficult, particularly in the game's later stages. If the game doesn't find suitable party members almost immediately, it tosses you into the mission on your own, forcing you to abandon and start the matchmaking process from scratch. When you manage to team up with other players, though, the experience is flawless, at least from a technical standpoint.
Each floor of the tower is distinctly different from the last in terms of style but not in substance, and the game gets repetitive remarkably quickly. Part of the problem with Babylon's Fall is that there isn't even enough not to like. There's just not enough full stop. The game's three class options merely serve to determine your starting weapon, and there are similarly meagre options for character customisation. As fun as combat is, it's let down by a lack of variety when it comes to customising your playstyle. Although you can utilise a lot of weaponry at once, your choices are limited to swords, shields, hammers, rods and bows. If you've seen one sword you've seen ‘em all as, when it comes to individual weapons, most are just different colour variations of the same basic blueprint, occasionally with a different elemental type or enhancement such as increased critical hit chance. Indeed, any effort to inject variety through weapon crafting, Gideon Coffin customisation, and side missions offers much too little and comes far too late.
There's an overarching sense of a game that feels unfinished with live service elements like battle passes and premium accessories taking priority over variety, meaningful progression and, ultimately, player enjoyment. Take these aspects out, and you're left with a solid combat system that lacks the depth needed to go the distance and a game that's remarkable only for its blandness.