Ask around. I guarantee you nobody’s hear of Babylon’s Fall. Despite having an impressive pedigree, the title’s gotten no hype, overshadowed by bigger releases from the past few months. In fact, I didn’t realize it was out until Square Enix PR sent out a release to my inbox!
That’s when I decided to try out Babylon’s Fall and see if it has the potential to be an awesome sleeper title.
Now that I’ve weeks under my belt, is the game that good?
What is Babylon’s Fall?
Babylon’s Fall is a live service third person action RPG. It’s developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish) and published by Square Enix exclusively for the Playstation consoles and the PC.
As mentioned, our copy of the game was graciously provided to us by the folks at Square Enix Asia. Thanks a ton guys!
As a Sentinel, you’re forced into servitude and made to climb the ominous Ziggurat for your masters. The quests have you slowly making your way up the massive structure, with your eventual goal being the top floor.
Similar to games like Marvel’s Avengers or Destiny 2, there’s a hub city in Babylon’s Fall where players congregate in-between missions. Vendors, quest givers and all the other miscellaneous stuff you can do is in Sentinel Force HQ.
On your expeditions, you’ll ascend a few floors of the Ziggurat at once.
Unlike some dungeon crawlers, the layout of the floors you visit aren’t random. That unfortunately means there’s a ton of repetition as all quests (whether main or optional) will use the same layouts. Though the enemies might change, the familiarity you’ll gain with the maps means you’ll get bored fast.
Which is also what the combat is.
That is to say, combat is fast and responsive, though the jumps tend to be a bit too floaty for my liking. It’s no issue most of the time, only coming into play during the game’s platforming sections. Then, it can become a bit of a hassle.
Depending your equipment, you can do a variety of attacks that befit your fighting style. There’s a lot of thought behind the combat system, and finding the perfect synergy for your equipment is tons of fun.
You can equip up to 4 different weapons, with the first two being your light and heavy attacks. The other two become your special abilities, which is where the game’s battle system shines. Equip a shield and you suddenly can parry and block attacks WHILE you’re still attacking with your physical weapons.
It allows for absurd combos with the right setup and makes finding new weapons (and then figuring how best to fit them into your playstyle) damn rewarding. One thing that I wish the developers would patch out is the inability to change your equipment mid-quest.
You’re stuck with the crap you start out with, which kills any flexibility in fighting the enemies. You want to change your gear? You have to quit and restart the mission.
That’s a shame because there’s a lot of fighting in the game.
As fighting in Babylon’s Fall is concentrated in a handful of fenced off areas per quest, there’s no way to escape or kite enemies once a fight is started. There’s no flexibility on how you engage, which makes battles too predictable. You’re already blocked from escaping, so what else can you do but charge on in?
Even then you’re going to run into a problem…the enemies (bosses especially) take a ton of damage.
You’ll keep hacking and hacking at even the lowliest mob and it’ll still take awhile to die. Even when you’re similarly leveled and geared, enemies take too much time to beat down. That makes even the basic battles drag on…I’ve personally gone ‘Am I done yet?’ so many times in the fights it’s not funny.
Sometimes waves upon waves of enemies will descend on you, which makes the fight just needlessly drag. If Square Enix just tweaked the HP of the enemies (maybe about 50%), then I guarantee that fights will be much, much more enjoyable.
Speaking of enjoyable, I love the game’s art style a lot!
It definitely takes inspiration from watercolor paintings, giving the visuals a sort of painted look. It works well during the game’s static cutscenes but unfortunately, it’s a detriment everywhere else.
Due to the style, the visuals look muddy and smeared during cinematics, as if you’re looking through a dirty window. The drab color palette only adds to this. You can make out what’s going on, but it’s nowhere near as sharp as I’d prefer because everything looks blurry and low resolution (despite it being not).
It’s a shame as I think the art style has massive potential. Look at Okami. That was inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e style and managed to make it work. So could Babylon’s Fall with some tweaking.
The game retains the smeared look during gameplay as well, though it’s nowhere near as bad. Something to definitely be thankful for.
The environmental art is stunning though, especially the earlier locations which look like they’re ripped right out of the From Software Dark Souls playbook. Ruined castles with gothic architecture, dank swamps and the like. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought that I was playing a new Dark Souls game.
I’m a bit put off by the combat visuals though. The floating weapons sound cool in theory, but they’re just distracting in combat. Maybe a teleporting weapon system (like what Final Fantasy XV did) would’ve looked much better.
As a live service game (like Destiny 2 or Avengers), Babylon’s Fall requires a ton of players to keep the community lively and to find others to group with. The game has crossplatform play (PS4, PS5 and PC players all in the same pool) but I’ve rarely found new players in-game. Most of the times I get grouped with the same handful of players I’ve already met.
The town hub is empty the majority of the time too. I’ve been playing since launch and I’ve never seen more than a handful of other players running around. It’s a bit sad to be honest.
Lag can also be an issue with multiplayer, as I’ve had hits that take a bit to register. It actually reminds me of playing Phantasy Star Online back in the Dreamcast days. Nostalgia aside, lagging hits is actually a problem when you’re fighting as it’s harder to avoid attacks.
Enemies all teleport all over the place with lag, which is really frustrating.
If an MMO like Final Fantasy XIV can be relatively lagless (I’m usually at 200+ms) there’s no reason for a game like Babylon’s Fall to lag so much.
Now it could be due to the timing and server (I play at night on the US servers) but it’s still not a good excuse, especially when I’m a 1GB wired connection.
The Bottom Line.
Babylon’s Fall is a decent enough game but there are some weird design decisions that hold it back from being a must-play. It has a cool combat system that’s let down by enemies that take too long to kill, a great visual style that’s hampered by how it’s executed and multiplayer focused gameplay that’s lacking in players.
There’s still time to turn it around though. With a decent sale, some tweaks and patches, Babylon’s Fall could yet be a popular game. Problem is will there be people still playing till that day comes?
Enjoyable combat mechanics and a distinct look gives Babylon’s Fall an edge over similar games, but there are issues that need to be worked out for it to truly shine.
- Flexible combat system.
- Fun gameplay.
- Solid framerate.
- Muddy visuals sometimes.
- Empty servers.
- Enemies have too much HP.