Babylon’s Fall comes from a team with plenty of pedigree but falls flat thanks to grindy combat and a focus on keeping you playing with no real reason to invest.
“Games as a service” was once somewhat of a dirty word for players. It suggested an impetus on grinding for the promise of better content in the future, and repetitive gameplay loops that encourage spending time or money to improve.
There have been better examples, though. For every Godfall or Marvel’s Avengers (which have, admittedly, improved), there’s a Destiny 2, a Warframe, or even a Hitman. Sadly, though, Square Enix’s Babylon’s Fall is a game as a service that forgot much of the basics for the model – namely, it’s not a fun game to play.
Babylon’s Fall – Key details
- Price: $59.99 / £49.99
- Developer: Platinum Games
- Release date: March 3, 2022
- Platforms: PlayStation 5. PlayStation 4, PC
Babylon’s Fall trailer
Not so Nier
Set in a world where a huge tower called The Ziggurat is being pillaged by an evil empire, it’s up to you to help stem the invasion and protect the structure. Babylon’s Fall puts you in the boots of a Sentinel, a character fitted with a creepy-looking backpack called the Gideon Coffin that’s just as likely to kill your hero as it is to empower them.
It’s not the most unique story, not helped by the hammiest voice acting we’ve heard in 2022 so far, as well as a wealth of forgettable characters. Babylon’s Fall feels as though it wants to channel Monster Hunter in its social space and variety of merchants, but the Sentinels’ HQ just lacks soul.
- Read more: Elden Ring review
The game’s art style is sure to be divisive, too. It’s inspired by medieval artwork, and there’s a painterly quality that means soft features and a unique feeling of warmth that feels a little similar to PS2 classic Ico. Sadly, characters look closer to PS3-era models, and everything just feels a little smudged. It’s the polar opposite of something like Horizon: Forbidden West, let’s put it that way.
Button basher’s ball
Using the Gideon Coffin means you’re able to swing swords, hammers, and more without using your arms, opening up additional attack options. Both triggers are tied to each of the additional “arms” offered, and that means combat is just as flashy as you’d expect from a Platinum title – all blades, sparks, and plenty of combos that send enemies flying into the air for follow-up attacks.
Sadly, it never feels particularly fluid or lethal. You can expect to hammer away at enemies doing very little damage, chipping away at health bars while skating from target to target. Bizarrely, it’s actually dodging that’s most satisfying since enemies hit much harder than you do. Tapping R1 lets you phase through attacks, moving between engagements, and enemies are varied enough to prompt smart strategy considerations about who to hit first. Things do start to pick up, too, and eventual enemies are weaker to some elemental damage types.
- Read more: Ghostrunner Project HEL DLC review
After each fight, you’ll be awarded a ranking for your performance. Better ratings increase your rewards, but the overall feel of combat feels so clunky that it’s hard to attain the higher rankings. All in all, it feels like you’re hammering buttons and hoping to earn an arbitrary score.
Between fights, you’ll engage in some light platforming, but even that manages to lack balance. Spikes will leap from the floor with barely any time to react, while some areas feel so easy it’s like the game is on autopilot.
In-game economy, without the “game”
Repetitious combat aside, perhaps the biggest issue with Babylon’s Fall is just how focused on the grind it is. Opening up the game will offer a daily login page that feels ripped from a mobile title (complete with signal status in the top corner), while the premium battle pass is advertised before you even start the campaign. That’s perhaps to be expected for a free-to-play title, but Babylon’s Fall is a full-priced game.
There’s a loot system that feels inconsequential, and while all paid-for items are cosmetic only and don’t have an effect on gameplay, it just feels like a soulless way to encourage players to jump into what is, sadly, not a fun game. There’s a huge amount to buy, and given how limited the game’s in-game customization is it just makes the game feel like it’s designed for “whales.”
- Read more: Destiny 2 The Witch Queen review
The reason live-service titles like Destiny, Warzone, and Warframe are so popular is that there’s enough there in terms of their gameplay to keep you coming back – even without the premium rewards and cosmetic accouterments. Square Enix and Platinum Games have sadly offered up a game devoid of any real fun base to build off, meaning its long-term mechanics are mired in quicksand.
We’re sad to say that after years of waiting Babylon’s Fall is easy to skip. While other attempts at a game as a service had their moments, its combat is barebones and clunky, while it feels determined to pull players through with meager rewards and muddy graphics.
Even playing with friends isn’t enough to bring this game back from the brink, and as a full-priced title, it’s absolutely impossible to recommend.
Reviewed on PlayStation 5