Making a Babylon’s Fall review proved to be a complicated endeavor mostly due to its alienating execution. PlatinumGames has entered a dark age after a string of awkward licensed games and with only Astral Chain and NieR: Automata being their most acclaimed releases.
Following misguided attempts at making a mobile game that nobody played and The Wonderful 101 Remastered getting ignored (again); it seemed inevitable that PlatinumGames would succumb to lowest common denominator: battlepass online action games. When Babylon’s Fall was first unveiled, nobody expected that it would go down this dark path.
PlatinumGames is no stranger to bungling online co-op. They did it once before with (the currently delisted) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan. Just how much more worse could it get? This just might be Square Enix and PlatinumGames’ error of biblical proportions. Find out why in our Babylon’s Fall review!
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 (reviewed)
Release Date: March 3, 2022
Players: 1-4 (online only)
Price: $59.99 USD
The visuals will disappoint immediately when Babylon’s Fall begins. This game looks like it was made for Wii U or PlayStation 3 specs. It is rotten with the overuse of post-processing effects that were common from those consoles and the splotchy textures sometimes make it look like LODs failed to load.
Sometimes, Babylon’s Fall attempts an expressive impressionistic painterly effect with filters and shaders that try to make the graphics looks more hand made. In some angles, the effect looks unlike anything seen in a game. Sadly, the effect is lost when in motion and Babylon’s Fall usually just ends up looking cheap.
There is a lot of distracting clipping with costume parts and geometry through out. Some costume parts have no rigging or physics applied to them; like a gladiator style skirt being completely stiff and it clipping through characters as they bend over or crouch.
Moments like this happen in cutscenes; parts that the game’s animators have complete control over. It makes no sense that instances like that got left in, unless there was a lack of time, budget or effort.
Overall presentation is very poor for a full-priced game. Only some of the cutscenes are fully animated. Most scenes have the very low budgety approach that some scenes in Bayonetta had; where characters are not animated at all and the action is implied through editing and camera movement.
Bayonetta was a risky release from SEGA during 2009 when the Japanese game industry was in dire straits. We can cut it some slack. Babylon’s Fall is a Square Enix production when game development barriers have never been lower. There is no valid excuse why the presentation is so hopelessly uneven.
Anyone who can forgive the subpar production values will still find that Babylon’s Fall‘s art direction is woefully unappealing. Armor designs are a chaotic mess of pointy bits and and harsh angles. It is as if an AI algorithm randomly generated the equipment and this becomes a headache when having to play the game proper.
After using the most ghetto character customization ever, the player’s avatar is immediately put into indentured servitude as a Sentinel and is armed with a “Gideon Coffin”. The narrative throws around a lot of fantasy jargon without much context and after a very worthless tutorial, players are set loose on climbing the tower.
The main gimmick of the combat in Babylon’s Fall is that sentinels can carry four weapons; one in each hand and two spectral weapons. The two weapons for hands are mapped to square or triangle; light or heavy attacks and both spectral weapons are mapped to left and right triggers.
Compounded with the various weapon types, the combat in Babylon’s Fall does manage an impressive range of expression and diversity. There are tons of attacks and combos that can be achieved and PlatinumGames vets will discover that some mechanics from their older titles snuck their way into the mechanics.
Certain inputs like the rising attacks from their past action games are pulled off exactly the same and there is even a variation on Metal Gear Rising‘s parrying that is incorporated when using shields. The way 2B could do counter attacks with her different pieces of equipment managed to make their way into Babylon’s Fall as well.
The combat has a lot of potential, so where does everything go wrong? Other than the fact that the levels feel like they are randomly generated hallways, Babylon’s Fall is completely not balanced for anything less than three players.
Babylon’s Fall is an online only game. There is no offline mode and trying to play it alone is one of the most tedious and frustrating experiences ever made by PlatinumGames. Balancing enemy HP was only considered for groups of players working together.
Playing alone means tediously whittling away at their massive health bars and avoiding attacks constantly. This drags out battles immensely and can make boss fights last upwards to 30 minutes or more.
Babylon’s Fall employs a battle rating per encounter and if playing alone, it is all but guaranteed that players will earn only the lowest rank… sometimes. There is nothing clear about the ranking. Fighting a boss alone for almost an hour may still net a Pure Platinum rating. When playing with a full party, it seems that Pure Platinum scores are awarded no matter what.
With a full party, combat becomes utter bedlam of four players all doing huge sweeping attacks with four weapons at the same time. The screen becomes a flurry of visual vomit and what is happening is completely unclear. This was something that could happen in Bayonetta, but that was a one player game and it was easier to know what was happening.
In Babylon’s Fall, having so many players cause so much chaos at once while fighting several large enemies who also have huge attacks and can launch waves of bullet curtains, makes the gameplay too confusing. It is hard to know if enemies are attacking because of the assault on the senses and busy visuals.
Enemy attacks and wind-ups have no audible cue (something prior PlatinumGames releases had), and relying on visual feedback when there is an overwhelming amount of information makes perfect dodging unreliable. Not that it matters; with a full party and performing terribly still nets a Pure Platinum rating. You could use all you healing items during a boss and still come out on top.
Babylon’s Fall uses a dreadful “battlepass” system. This iternary is designed to keep players hooked in order to unlock or earn various items or currency. Like all obnoxious “games as a service” models, the experience becomes like work instead of a game where players progress.
Expect to get inundated with various currencies, adverts and pointless “daily” and “weekly” goals. It is like PlatinumGames have become a slimy middle manager and the players are lowly cubicle workers who have to drive up the numbers to please the big boss, Square Enix.
The goals are devoid of substance. They are always designed to make players grind as much time as possible. It is one of the most soul crushing experiences ever produced by PlatinumGames and the sad part is that there was potential if only Babylon’s Fall was not a co-op online action game.
Garaz is the main currency used to acquire the cool or fun gear and of course it is the currency that has to be bought with real world money. To add insult to injury, it is a bad deal for buyers since 1,000 Garaz is $10 and that only gets part of an armor set. For the same price, players could buy Hotline Miami and get a full game with a story and amazing soundtrack.
The non-buyable currency is borderline worthless and has very little utility outside of crafting. Saving up a mass horde of income comes very easy when there is very little to spend it on. Almost all gear is acquired from looting or completing dungeons in the tower.
Babylon’s Fall should’ve been an 11-13 hour action game with a lot of replay value and over the top cutscenes. It should have been an outrageous and addictive action game. This is a free-to-play game but with the greedy audacity to charge people $59.99. If this was free-to-play, then most of its faults would sting slightly less, but they would still sting.
Babylon’s Fall was reviewed on PlayStation 5 using a copy provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Babylon’s Fall is now available for Windows PC (via Steam), PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.