Babylon's Fall Review (PS5)
''Never Fall From Grace''
Developed: Platinum Games
Release Date: March 3rd,2022
*Review copy provided to me by Square-Enix
Babylon's Fall is an action multiplayer game that is developed by Platinum Games and published by Square-Enix. With a strong track record of great action games under their belt, Platinum Games aims to continue that streak here with Square-Enix's latest foray into the live service market. But do they succeed in this attempt? or is this another case of live services just not catching on? Only one way to find out, so lets go!
Climb the looming Tower of Babel and uncover its fabled treasures. Only by mastering the powers of your Gideon Coffin, will you unlock your true potential and become strong enough to survive the summit and uncover the secrets that await.
Oh boy. Where do we begin. As you may have seen by now, this title has made people feel some kind of way and some of it may be for a good reason and others, well.. not so much so. Its definitely been a polarizing game so far. But what is my experience? how do I personally feel about it? Before I answer that, can anyone tell me what that smell is? I can't quite describe it, smells sorta like... teen spirit. That's right, ''load up on guns, bring your friends, its fun to lose and pretend''. That perfectly summarizes this title in a nut shell. Why? well its simple, this a multiplayer focused title overall with heavy emphasis on friends and teamwork. Sure you can play solo just fine, but it's not always recommended, as I will get into very shortly. So how does my previous analogy even make sense? well here in Babylon's Fall, you load up your guns and weapons by being able to equip four weapons at a time, each adding their own individual use, such as light attacks, heavy attacks and L2 and R2 acting as your special attacks known as Gideon Coffins. Bring your friends with you as you trek up and down the Towers Of Babel to combat enemies big or small, Its fun to lose and laugh with friends with a funny death, and to pretend that you're having fun for long periods of time. See, makes sense, right?, still no? well crap, now I just feel like Alfred from the Bale Batman man movies, '' I have failed you, master wayne''.
But enough clowning around, lets truly get into this title. As stated before, this is an action title, with focus on teamwork and figuring out which combination of attacks work for your style of play. In Babylon's fall, its your job to climb and explore the mysterious tower of Babylon with the overall narrative being about your ability known as Gideon Coffin. Gideon Coffin is a device that is phased into your body, with only a select few people being able to survive its fusion and power. It gives you inhuman strength and the ability to use up to four weapons at once. Basically you become a weapon wielding Goro, only you don't get to be prince of the Shokan. The entire story narrative overall is based off this Gideon Coffin and while there are some decent story beats with people not being able to control their own Gideon and losing all control, its largely... uneventful. So with the story not being as robust as you'd like, we fall back into what Platinum Games usually always excels at, the combat. Regrettably, it's hit or miss this go around, like a game of Russian roulette, you can spin your gun and fire and ultimately be ok, but eventually something has got to give and BOOM, you lose. Sadly this is what happens to Platinum Games here in Babylon's Fall. Its not terrible, don't get me wrong, but.. ya, I'll explain.
Once you create your character and get started in the game, you will be placed in a town that will basically act as your hub for anything related to getting your daily gifts for login, buying items or gear and accepting quests. Heading to the quest board, you will be able to accept your first quest and finally begin your journey to see what this game has to offer you. Upon entering your first tower or dungeon, you'll notice the game looks better than its initial trailer showcases, but not quite up to snuff to what you'd expect it to look like compared to other titles on the market. Granted, I don't think it looks as bad as people are parroting right now, I'm not going to go all iago on it and be like ''RAWK'', then steal a lamp and say this game looks like the worst thing I've ever seen. Personally, I think the art style strays further away from the overly polished Triple A game and more so leans into the stylistic look that's akin to games like Dark Souls 2. This title doesn't look amazing, but it also doesn't look like my face when I wake up in the morning either, so at least that's a plus. So sure, even though the game doesn't look like total doo doo to me, the level design itself though, eh, it does have room for a slight of improvement. Most of the towers you traverse consist of the same or similar layouts, with long corridors leading you in straight lines with little or no incentive to branch off and explore. But... to be a tiny bit more fair though to the game, it does get shaken up every now and then with a forest and tree setting, ice and lava areas, hazards put in your way like air that pushes you forward, having to jump in and traverse water or time your movements to dodge blue spikes set in a specific rotation. To be perfectly honest, it feels like a case of Final Fantasy 13, I know that's a weird comparison, but hear me out. What was the main gripe with that game? linearity, yes, but what specifically?. Walking down a narrow corridor, fighting an enemy, then going down another narrow corridor, fight an enemy, repeat. This also sadly is the big culprit in Babylon's Fall at the end of the day, no room for exploration, discovery and leaves you wanting to see more of the games lore and world.
With the games structure, its linearity, and lack of any meaning, it seems to me that the levels and world itself, is pushed aside. ''Where's the beef?'', I mean, where is the fun? IS there any to be had? well yeah, there is actually and it's in regards to the combat. No real shocker here considering its Platinum Games. Action and gaming with Platinum Games goes together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs and Joanie and Chachi. The foundation of the core system of Babylon's Fall relies on a light and heavy attack system, but ultimately with a pretty fun twist. Instead of one or two weapons to wield, you can now assign up to four weapons at a time and map them to whatever button you wish to, square, triangle, L2 or R2, with R1 acting as your dash button to escape enemy attacks, and if timed right, create a ghost dodge that has a chance to refuel some stamina that gets lost when using your special attacks. What makes this fighting style so fun is because having four different weapons to choose from, you're able to strategize and pick and choose what weapons or upgrades work best for you and make your own unique battle style. This gets even better when you add on the two “coffin combos”, which enhances the way you maneuver the field and fight. These are mapped to L2 and R2, and can be used at a stand still or running around to escape enemy fire. Coffin abilities operate independently from everything else, so you can queue up a hammer smash even if you’re on the ground or mid-combo with something else. My go to were quick frontal attacks, followed by jumping in the air, charging my arrows and shooting down below as I was locked onto an enemy to avoid getting hit. I'm kind of overly cautious and tend to stand back and pop off my shots, taking my time and slowly dwindling their health, even if it takes me twenty minutes to beat a group of baddies. You could watch Legend Of Chun Li before I even finish one fight.. wait no, forget I said that, you do NOT want to watch that abomination.
So we have ok graphics, linear level design that leaves much to the imagination , no sense of exploration, fun combat most of the time early on, hub world that allows you to pick your quests and buy items and weapons, four weapon fighting mechanic, etc etc. But what about enemy variety and the overall difficulty of the game? I mean heck, is it like mister Poyo Poyo himself, Kirby, and one of those cake walk games or is it a game that will make you rage against the machine and kick your console out of the window?. Well, luckily its neither. You see, Babylon's Fall has a glaring issue in regards to its difficulty. Playing solo by yourself, all enemies feel like sponges and take forever to beat, but on the flipside if you play with multiple people, then the game tends to become more on the easier side of things. This makes it extremely unbalanced, unfortunately, no matter how your party is set up, one person or four, the enemies do not scale with you. So if you have someone who's super overpowered, the dungeon or rather tower you are in, is a piece of cake. However, go in solo by yourself and face off against knights, grunts, wolves, secondary bosses and main bosses, then it can feel a tad bit on the repetitive side due to the constant button mashing with the same attacks over and over due to the enemies all having health that takes forever to drain. Sorta like some of the enemies in Destiny.
Don't get me wrong, I know that sounds bad and all, and yes, It can be perceived as bad, but at the thick of it, the combat IS good, mainly for the main boss fights. The main boss fights are the real showcases here in Babylon's Fall with each feeling like a mammoth to take on and all of them coming off as unique in not only design, but in difficulty. attack patterns and mechanics. For example when I faced off against Zenon on co-op mode with one other player, it was intense as heck. So intense in fact that I would stay back purpose, watch the attack patterns and fight the enemy like it was an MMO. Once learning his attacks, I was able to run in, get some hits, wait for a big crystal to spawn in the middle of the room, which in MMO's like FF14 means ''HOLY CRAP KILL IT! KILL IT!'' before time runs out, otherwise, KAPOW, you're dead as someone streaming a full movie or tv show on Twitch. Big oops though as we messed up that mechanic a few times, but after several minutes of us picking our spots, doing some epic dodging, grabbing my friend off the ground after he was downed, we took down Zenon and claimed our victory. Woo. It was awesome. That is when Babylon is at it's best, but unfortunately, those feel good moments are often too spread out from each other. Which sucks because at its foundation, Babylon's Fall has some really great ideas, its just not executed to the extent it should be and seems like it needed way more time in the oven than it has gotten. But oh man... I feel like Lisa from the Simpsons when she tells Ralph to leave her alone and it literally breaks his heart and Bart makes her watch it over and over. I'm not done airing my gripes.
Besides the issues I named above, I still have a few that I really need to discuss. Immediately upon starting the game, you must link your square-enix account to the game, but if you don't have one... then what? well you have to go and make one and then attempt to log into the game again to even begin your journey. It's not a huge issue, but its just an extra step you have to take to even play the game in the first place, which makes it extra cumbersome. That also ties into another glaring issue with the game, yes, even more glare and flare than a movie from J.J Abrams. With it being a live service game and requiring you to be online, there are so heavy downsides and one of those being the extremely heavy push on Microtransactions. They're in your face and you KNOW they're there because the game does not waste a minute to let you know. Should you try to go to an NPC to try to buy a normal item, forget it, the first few screens that pop up are items that are purchasable for real life money. Good lord, I'm just trying to buy Neosporin from that butt kicking I just got handed, get out of my way DLC. Oh ya, so remember earlier when I told you about the levels and how linear they are? well while you push through these linear levels, like any other looting title, you will pick up weapons, items and gear to equip. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It's bad because remember the NPC's I told you about that sold stuff? well it renders them completely useless because nearly ever drop from a normal dungeon is significantly better than anything a shop offers you. It's like selling your used game on craigslist or offerup and getting $40 for it compared to trading to Gamestop and getting $5 for it and a badgering about signing up for their reward program. Pretty dang annoying.
At the end of the day, Babylon's Fall ends up a really mixed bag for me. Do I think It's as bad as people say? no. But is it great? far from it. Babylon's Fall is one of those games you go into expecting to be great due to the pedigree of a company like Square-Enix and Platinum Games, but ultimately end up harnessing our inner AEW MJF and yawning ''Mid'' at it. Now it does have some upside, the combat feels unique, strategy use with four different weapons is effective and engaging, game runs pretty smooth overall and is generally responsive, boss fights are tough, thought out and even a bit of a challenge.. but that's sadly where most of the positives end. Babylon's Fall had everything going for it that could've broken the Square-Enix streak of live service titles, but sadly, with uninspired level design, too much linearity, store NPC's being rendered useless by looting without grinding, enemies feeling like sponges, imbalance of difficulty between single player and multiplayer, topping off with in your face microtransactions, makes this game a hard sell for anyone at a $60 price point. Overall I have had bits and pieces of genuine fun, but its spread too thin that by the time I have a great moment, its forgotten in monotonous and repetitive game play. If you want to wait for a price tag of around $20-$30, I say jump on it then because there really is fun to be had, especially with some buddies, lots of laughs will be had, but at $60, I can't recommend this unless changes are made. So with all that having been said, my verdict is clear, GameNChick says WAIT