Babylon’s Fall is not good, not good at all which is really baffling because Platinum Games, in my book, is a really awesome developer. They know how to make a great and beautiful game with satisfying gameplay and more often than not, a really good story.
Babylon’s Fall does not feel like a true Platinum Games game. Honestly, it feels like someone at Square Enix found some old-ass source code of an unfinished PS3 game and tasked Platinum to scavenge what they could and make a live-service game out of it. Why does it feel that way you ask? Visually it looks so dated and well, just plain bad. Actual PS3 games that came out 10 years ago look way better than this game.
Now you can make the argument that the game has a unique and deliberate oil painting look art style and I have nothing wrong with that. But that does not justify having horrible texture quality and awful-looking materials. Nor does it justify having old, fugly character models nor bland and empty environments. I don’t expect every game that releases from now on to offer the same level of visual excellence as Horizon Forbidden West but come on, don’t release a game that looks like this in 2022. Indie games, made by a much smaller number of people, have managed to emulate and actually deliver on that oil painting look before.
But the thing that, in hindsight, leads me to believe that that initial hypothesis may be actually true was the need to log in to your “Square Enix account” before I could even start the game. OK, it’s a live-service game so having to connect to my Square Enix account makes sense, right? I already have a Square Enix account and it is linked to my PSN account and for any of their other games like Marvel’s Avengers or Nier: Replicant, my account has been automatically detected when I started playing those games. OK, I have to manually enter my credentials to log in to play Babylon’s Fall. I entered my username and password… and it failed. Tried again, failed again. OK, I signed in to the Square Enix site via mobile, and it worked… strange. Then I read that I needed to enter my “Square Enix ID”… strange. Maybe I needed to enter the email address? Nope, I couldn’t fit my email address in the text field since it had some sort of character limit…strange. So what the heck is this “Square Enix ID”? I googled it and I found myself on a site that looks straight out of the early 2000s (tap here if you don’t believe me)… WTF? I spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to find how to actually find what my “Square Enix ID” was and ultimately I gave up. I decided to register for a new Square Enix account using the same email address and username and lo and behold, it worked. That shouldn’t be possible. You can’t register on the same service twice using the same email account. Unless, this is not the usual Square Enix Members thing, but an old-ass separate service for a long-forgotten PS3 game. Case closed <?>
Regarding the story of the game, I really can’t tell you much cause I skipped almost all of the boring cutscenes. You take the role of a silent character, that you create via a barebones character creator, who’s forcefully transformed into a Sentinel and tasked with climbing the biblical Tower of Babel for… reasons. The Gideon Coffin, the strange backpack-like artifact that transformed you into a Sentinel, can grant power but it can also turn people evil. There’s also some sort of disease/corruption/plague/whatever that is slowly killing or changing the people and the solution/cure/whatever can be found in the Tower. As I said, I did not care about this story or characters whatsoever as I just kept skipping all of the boring Powerpoint-like exposition-dump cutscenes. Having said that, I shouldn’t really argue about how weird and disjointed the environments you traverse through and the enemies you fight get. At first, I was running down the same Colosseum-like corridors which fit the aesthetic of the Tower. But then I was inside a dark volcanic cave, then traversed through a forest-like environment, climbed a snowy mountain, and ended up on a field full of flowers…? Next, I fought a large dragon in some sort of arena, and then I was aboard a futuristic spaceship fighting against androids that fire lasers and missiles at you and robot-scorpions…. *insert confused Travolta meme*? Yeah, it’s weird and maybe if I had given it a chance, who knows, the story might be actually cool.
Since it’s a live-service game though, I can go and replay all of the missions all over again and experience that story, but I won’t do that. See, the gameplay in Babylon’s Fall is also kinda bad. The combat, one thing that Platinum Games is known for, here is absolutely boring when it shouldn’t be, especially since you can equip up to four different weapons. Two weapons bound to either a light or strong attack and two additional ones can be equipped as spectral weapons courtesy of the Gideon Coffin. During combat, you can use the spectral weapons at any time independent of the other two weapons and you’d think that that would open up a ton of variety, combos, and strategies, but it really doesn’t. Every encounter usually boils down to just straight-up button mashing. The enemies are big damage sponges and your hand will literally hurt after you mash square, triangle, L2, and R2 for a couple of minutes straight.
This is not really a problem when you have three other players in your squad or even one other player for that matter. Playing other players makes each encounter easy not only cause of the combined damage but also because the enemies will not just aggro only on you. But if you are playing solo and let’s be honest, you will be playing solo cause no one is playing this game, encounters tend to drag a lot and it feels like the difficulty, meaning mostly the enemy HP, doesn’t really scale well when playing solo. When you also add the recommended power level to the equation, cause it’s a live-service game after all, solo play is borderline impossible if you only want to go through the story quests. If you are 2-3 levels under the threshold, you can manage to complete the quests even though you will die a lot of times. But if you are 6-8 levels under the threshold, you will deal basically no damage to any of the enemies. Sure you can grind the side quests like Skirmishes where you fight waves after waves of boring enemies in a small arena and pray the RNG gods to bless you with more powerful gear, but you probably won’t do that as the combat is not satisfying at all.
There are so many other annoying things like how many unnecessary buttons clicks it takes to launch a quest or how the game forces you to start a quest even though you just want to wait for random players to join you indefinitely or how you can’t change any of your weapons or gear during a quest. Crafting and gear infusing aren’t immediately available to you. Some additional abilities like grappling enemies or boosting your friends are also introduced later in the game. The same can be said about tweaking your Gideon Coffin stats. Babylon’s Fall introduces “cool” stuff long after you’ve lost all desire to keep playing the game. These stupid design choices make no sense to me for a live-service game that releases in 2022.
It pains me to say these things about Babylon’s Fall cause I really like Square Enix as a publisher and I loved all of the games Platinum Games has worked on. Nier: Automata was my 2017 GOTY and is one of the top 10 best games I’ve ever experienced. I honestly don’t know what they were thinking when designing and releasing this game. Avoid Babylon’s Fall as it is not worth your money or your time. Thanks for reading.
The game was reviewed on a PS5 using a promo code provided by the publisher. Babylon’s Fall is out now for Playstation and PC.