Babylon’s Fall Review
PlatinumGames has built a reputation for creating high-octane, action-focused experiences. Their implementation of accessible yet deep combat has garnered a cult following that eagerly awaits a release sporting their prestigious moniker. After a successful partnership with Square Enix on the incredible Nier: Automata, the duo have teamed up once more for the fantasy epic, Babylon’s Fall. As the ‘Games as a Service‘ model has proven to be extremely popular and profitable for a number of companies, many are trying to jump on the bandwagon and replicate the success of their peers. With the masters of hack and slash at the helm, will this action RPG be your new addiction?
Devastated by destruction, the world is in ruins with only the great Ziggurat still standing. With whispers of treasures buried within, the Domitinian Empire experiments on slaves in order to farm super soldiers to search the ruins. Armed with a mysterious relic, the Gideon Coffin, you must ascend the imposing tower on your quest to uncover the secrets of the universe. While its post-apocalyptic, medieval architecture and the high-fantasy art style are alluring, the narrative is poorly executed. The majority of cutscenes are framed as if they’re paintings with a series of stills to expand the story. Its delivery is painful, mainly due to the stilted script and awful voice acting. Each character possesses a stereotypical accent that overrides the dialogue and results in a lack of engagement with the plot.
Ascending the Tower
Before your adventure begins, you must create an avatar. While the options are quite basic, you can easily personalize your character with the exhaustive range of armor and equipment that significantly alters your appearance. Unfortunately, It’s at this point and in general cutscenes, where the graphics take center stage. In an attempt to capture the brooding atmosphere that features heavily within the work of acclaimed artists such as John William Waterhouse and Caravaggio, Babylon’s Fall includes an oil paint lacquer that washes the detail. Due to this, textures are bland and character models are reminiscent of a PS3-era game.
You can tackle missions co-operatively or independently and the difficulty scales accordingly. Quests contain several chapters, and while the environments differ, the structure remains formulaic. After following a linear path and maneuvering past the odd obstacle, you will encounter a larger area that houses several enemies. This is where Babylon’s Fall shines as the combat is thrilling and deceptively deep. Enemies vary and require you to flaunt your range of attacks to overcome. With four methods to strike, each of which is customizable, you have the ability to experiment with a catalog of weapons to perfect loadout. Weapons contain different properties that alter their effectiveness, therefore, allowing you to create unique combos.
The Dance of Death
Spirit energy is tied to spectral weapon slots, as a result, you must watch your gauge in order to not be left in a vulnerable state. There is a lovely risk/reward system in play as you replenish energy from standard attacks and then use it for larger strikes. Due to this, there is a rhythm to battles as you must vary your output in order to be successful. Evasion is key and offers a temporary slowdown when executed during a small time frame. This gives you the opportunity to unleash a flurry of attacks that can help you quickly vanquish your foe.
Culminating missions are boss battles. While mini fights are at the end of each mission, a larger fight lingers to conclude the story arc. These sequences are varied and quite challenging. At times, bullet hell segments occur that require you to weave in and out of projectiles to avoid damage. Attacks patterns alter and build to a frantic but satisfying climax.
Missions offer a ton of rewards such as armor, weapons and currency that can be found nestled within areas or from the remains of enemies. You are unable to switch your weapons during a mission which helps Babylon’s Fall maintain its fast pace. When you return to the hub area, you will discover the treasures and then be able to tinker with your loadout. Similar to other loot-based games, each asset varies in prestige with boosted stats for higher-ranked items. Some weapons include elemental effects such as fire and ice and enchantments that give additional bonuses. Adding further incentive to experiment, particular enemies are susceptible to elements which gives more reason to search for rare weapons.
The combination of items creates a power ranking that links to the difficulty of missions. You can purchase all manner of equipment from the shop in the hub area which can help raise your rank. While this sounds like it could be grind-focused, I never felt the need to revisit a dungeon just to level up. Often, simple amendments to the loadout or attemptingE missions on your own will help you progress.
In addition to the campaign, there is a plethora of extra content that you can tackle such as skirmishes, sieges and timed missions. Although these are littered around the small hub area, they aren’t clearly communicated and you may come across them accidentally. As you would expect with a live-service game, there are several types of currencies and battle passes. Alas, these suffocate Babylon’s Fall, as the needless number of systems weigh down the experience.
Babylon’s Fall falters with its implementation of a live-service model. While it contains a compelling, multi-faceted combat system, its brilliance is lost in a crowd of unnecessary features. The art direction, although interesting, doesn’t capture the notion of an oil painting. Instead, it looks bland and at times, downright ugly. Unfortunately, it seems that a troubled development period has marred the game, resulting in a directionless, cluttered and convoluted adventure.
*** A PlayStation 5 key provided by the publisher ***
- Deep Combat System
- Personalizing Your Loadout
- Boss Battles
- Convoluted Systems
- Ugly Visuals
- Missions Lack Variety