They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. And so it stands to reason that you shouldn’t judge a game by its visuals.
It’s hard not to, though, when a game looks as messy as Babylon’s Fall. Developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix, it aims to look somewhat like an old oil painting, but unfortunately just comes across as confused, rough, and frequently very dull. There are lots of greys and browns here, as well as bland textures and jagged edges. Every once in a while you look at it and capture a glimpse of what was being aimed for, but for the overwhelming majority of the time it’s a bit of an eyesore.
However, if you can get past the disappointing visuals – and the dodgy voice acting if you choose the English option – you’ll find a decent loot-based action RPG. Providing you’re willing to put in some time, that is. A live service game, Babylon’s Fall doesn’t like to explain many of its systems and features very well, leaving you a bit lost during its early hours. And so, unless you have patience and persistence, you might be inclined to drop it before it’s even really got going.
You’re essentially a prisoner and a slave in Babylon’s Fall, brought to a place in the middle of nowhere before having a device called a Gideon Coffin attached to your back. While many others died during the process, you’ve survived, and that means you’ve now got to battle your way up the Tower of Babel. You’d think you wouldn’t have much motivation for it, but after making some acquaintances and learning that reaching the top of the tower may be key to you getting your life back, you’re raring to go. But it won’t be easy.
After choosing from one of three classes, each with their own perks, Babylon’s Fall lets you crack on with creating your character. It’s then up to you if you wish to tackle your journey with others or go it alone. Whichever you choose, however, you’ll still need to create a Square Enix account and always play while connected to the internet. We’ve found that playing alone is viable, but teaming up with others is definitely the best way to play. It makes facing off hordes of enemies in each of the game’s quests that bit more manageable and enjoyable.
Like nearly all loot-based games, Babylon’s Fall draws you into a cycle. At the main hub you can browse through a vendor’s wares, collect rewards, team up with others and manage your equipment. Then, when you’re ready for action, you can accept a mission. Missions themselves aren’t too long, whisking you away to hostile locations where you either explore linear environments end engage in multiple skirmishes or face off against a singular powerful foe. Along the way you’ll collect loot, which you can then paw over once the mission is over back at the hub. Rinse and repeat until your interest wanes.
Perhaps the most notable thing about Babylon’s Fall is its combat system, which allows you to equip, and use, up to four weapons at once. In your left-hand slot goes the weapon you want to perform light attacks with. The right, your heavy option. Then your Gideon Coffin allows you to equip a further two weapons, although you’ll make use of their spectral abilities rather than using them physically. Needless to say, a fair amount of fun can be had trying various loadouts to determine your playstyle.
You might find that equipping four swords is for you, bombarding your enemies with a barrage of fast strikes. Or you could equip multiple bows, giving you superiority at range. Chances are though, that you’ll opt for a balance. A shield always comes in handy for defending against attacks, for example, while nothing beats a large hammer in terms of damage output. So, why not have one of each of those, as well as a bow and a sword? There’s no right or wrong answer, just what works for you.
Of course, what works for you might be swayed by the gods of RNG. During missions you’ll find relics of various colours, and at the end they’ll be turned into pieces of equipment. As well as having rarity levels, which decide the number and nature of special abilities they offer, they also have a power level. The higher the power level, the better the piece of equipment, supposedly. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way, leading to some confusion.
Each piece of gear you equip, from weapons to armour, will change your character’s appearance. The need to equip the best gear you have, however, can leave you looking like a dog’s dinner. For that reason you’ll be glad that there are vanity items, allowing you to change your appearance. They’re not all that easy to come by unless you buy the Digital Deluxe edition of the game, pay real money, or acquire a premium Battle Pass and make some progress, however.
Combat itself takes a bit of getting used to. It’s not as fast-paced or polished as that found in other PlatinumGames titles. You’ll rarely be up against enemies one-one-one, and so you need to make use of space, not get too greedy with your hits, and put enemies in a stun state where possible. In the early hours it can all seem rather rough and unfair, but as you get used to the mechanics things fall more into place. It never becomes amazing, but it does become somewhat enjoyable, especially when taking on challenging bosses.
There’s a fairly sizeable game here, and the live-service element means it’s going to be expanded and tweaked over time. Well, providing there are enough players to make it viable. And there’s the problem; released with a whisper at a time where heavy-hitters such as Elden Ring and Gran Turismo 7 are doing the rounds, Babylon’s Fall hasn’t got a lot going in its favour. It’s not a terrible game at its core, but it’s not really got anything to shout about. It’s decidedly mediocre.
If you love loot-based games and like the idea of wielding four weapons at once, you can get some enjoyment out of Babylon’s Fall. You’ve got to look past the drab visuals though, and have plenty of patience to get through its opening hours and lack of direction. Ultimately, there are some good ideas here, and some fun moments to be had, but they’re wrapped up in a package that feels rough around the edges and not up to the usual standard that you’d expect from PlatinumGames.
Babylon’s Fall Review – GameSpew’s Score