Each time I wrapped up a session of Babylon's Fall, I told myself that it was the last time I'd play the game. But each time, after trying to rationalize and justify what I'd experienced, I'd return in hopes of finding something – anything – that clicked and made the time already invested worthwhile. That failed to ever happen, with Babylon's Fall proving over and over again to be a disjointed and frustrating game devoid of any defining characteristics beyond how uninteresting it is.
The Babylon's Fall story has players first customizing a Sentinel, the game's combatants who employ the use of a special device known as the Gideon Coffin. Carrying two weapons with two more allotted by the powers of the Gideon Coffin, you climb the various levels of the Tower of Babel to bash and blast corrupted enemies with heavy, light, and spectral attacks during the ever-present search for better loot.
That's quite the setup, but here's how typical Babylon's Fall experience actually plays out: After managing your loadout and accepting a quest at the Sentinel headquarters, you either hop around idly or put down the controller and wait until you find a match. Those are your only options, seeing how you're not allowed to adjust your equipment at all while queued for a match and can't interact with any NPCs in the hub area. You aren't told when the quest will actually start, either, so hopefully you're back in time to not miss anything. Four players can take part in a quest at one time, but unless you've brought friends, you'll be lucky to match with one, maybe two teammates (I haven't gotten a full team on the PlayStation 5 since the game's beta).
That's the least aggravating part of the process. When you load into a quest – most likely alone – you'll follow the level's rails until you encounter a few waves of enemies to assail with your four weapons. Beat them down, clear the boss, and head back to the hub with maybe one or two instances of usable loot gained from the ordeal.
Babylon's Fall's monotony only gets worse from there the closer you examine its hodgepodge features pulled from looters, slashers, RPGs, and MMOs. Enemies barely respond to attacks regardless of if you smash them with a hammer, charge up a heavy attack, or shoot them with a bow. Specific inputs will send some enemies airborne or flatten them, and parries do at least cast enemies aside, but it's up to you to find out about most of that, since hardly anything is explained organically. A "Help" section in the game's settings takes you to the game's version of a tutorial, which basically just consists of walls of text to sift through until you resign yourself to the fact that you're simply on your own.
Between the general lack of instruction and an abysmal matchmaking experience, Babylon's Fall somehow manages to be quite isolating, despite its push to play with others. Scaling based on team size is either ineffective or nonexistent, which means the game's even more of a slog played solo. It's as if everyone in the Sentinel Waiting Room knows that, too – players hardly move or emote and simply filter in and out of the HQ.
Even if all those missteps could be overlooked, the most bewildering decisions of all stem from how content is unlocked. Crafting, a basic system available from the start in most other games, isn't unlocked until after you clear the third "cloister" of missions. Items are crafted via blueprints either bought or obtained, but many of them are locked behind optional quests which still aren't unlocked at that point. Race-based Gideon Coffin abilities are unlocked after that, and then come side missions, but you still won't even have the ability to upgrade gear or use different weapon stances by that point.
By the time these things are unlocked, one wonders why these features weren't available from the beginning. The story warns of being corrupted by the Gideon Coffin by abusing its powers, which is ironic given how you'll often forget it's on your back while you're smashing three attack buttons at once. It's evident Babylon's Fall wants to push players towards an endgame experience with live-service promises enticing players to stay interested, but it fails to provide any substance worth sticking around for.
It often feels disingenuous to say whether a game is worth its price or not when review codes are provided by the publisher at no cost, but Babylon's Fall feels like an exception. It's a $60 game that asks for more with a paid battle pass and other microtransactions all while putting the onus on players to find their own teammates and learn the ins and outs themselves. The game might be more fun played in a lobby with friends, but nobody should be talked into playing Babylon's Fall. Aside from functioning at the most basic level where attacks land and health bars shrink, Babylon's Fall fails in every other way.
Rating: 1 out of 5
A review code for Babylon's Fall was provided by the publisher for the PlayStation 5.1comments