Babylon’s Fall PS4 [REVIEW-FUNERAL] | Enuma Eloss

After previously touching upon the demo, and especially when the inevitable news of the sunset period before the servers would be shot down, i knew i had get Babylon’s fall, for cheap (which wasn’t an issue), actually play and finish before lights were out.

Other times i’ve put out these “funerary reviews” slightly before a game kicked the bucket, just in case, as both a courtesy and a way to let people that might be interested in the game itself, for whatever reason, so they could – potentially – try it or play it, i mean, Jump Force can still be played as second hand copies are still around.

But Babylon’s Fall didn’t even deserve that, so we’re talking about it the very same days its servers will close forever, 28th of February 2023, not even 1 year after the game launched on the 3rd of March 2022, couldn’t even held out for 3 days more, in such a hurry to kill to it Square Enix were.

Then again, that in itself it’s nothing special, the company does this to countless mobile free to play spinoffs of it’s own series, it’s like clockwork for many people to learn through these “end of service announcement” that many mobile games based on franchises owned by Squeenix…. even existed.

But it’s Babylon’s Fall we’re talking about, a game that indeed will live on infamy as a golden grease stain on Platinum Games’ record, when they had the bright idea to work alongside the company that once every 2 year lamented every non-japanese big franchise they owned and handled sold “below expectations”, the company of FF VII NFTs, that also later sold all its western-centric studios and properties for a pittance, all to drown more cash into the latest internet money scam.

Nowadays it’s easy to lament these decisions and i do take much pleasure in seeing Babylon’s Fall disaster, more in hoping that it will help Platinum revert the “live service AAA” attitude they chaggered on about while discussing their future plans some years ago, and keep making actual games that people want from them.

But believe it or not there was a time where the idea of Babylon’s Fall sparked interest… as in, when we heard it was gonna be developed by Platinum Games, and then all the hype deflated BIG TIME seconds after, when we learnt it was gonna be a live service thing. Another one.

For a lot of time we knew very little of the game itself, and i’m willing to bet development must have been quite troubled, most likely started from scratch more than once, but it’s clear this project was a mess that really should have been stayed cancelled and unheard of in the years of radio silence that passed from its reveal to its uncerimonious release.

And indeed in a state the game released was. Makes me shudder to think how the first version of the game was, if they preferred to cancel that but somehow shipped THIS.

Few bad games are this fulgoratingly awful from the get go, as in you just looked at it and were struck with how godawful it looked for a 2022 release, this isn’t just cheap, this looks like a PS3/360 era game just slightly tarted up for a remaster, i would say, but even remasters of decades old games were a lot presentable. Babylon’s Fall just looked like shit, and its questionable chromatic choices of going for a golden smear style supposed to evoke oil paintings just invited even more scat jokes, as the whole game just looks smeared with a golden grease.

When its not reusing assets from the first iteration of FF XIV (the one that was a massive flop), that is. Because of course it does, and production values overall are quite poor, with many cutscenes often being just slideshows of the characters models, the idea being with the story framed in portraits, but it just looks like they couldn’t be arsed, regardless of intent, and the art style just results as very indistinct, with every looking the same and generic browns and grey dominating the palettes, again, like if we revisited the 2007/8 era of military shooters with HD greys.

The story itself is pretty standard: Babylon has fallen, fallen, there’s no Ayn Rand inspired villain, but a new empire set on big loot bonanza, forcing implants on people, and those who survive these shield-parasites-backpacks thingie (called Gideon Coffins) can become very powerful and are sent into the “Ziggurat” to fight their way through, loot all they can and scale it all to the very top of the tower, fighting monsters apparently left there to defend the Ziggurat.

There’s also the populace that lives in the various cloysters suffering the “Blue Sun” disease, with their skin partially showing blue infections, and the knights hope that reaching the top of the Ziggurat will somehow help them in dispelling this malody, but that’s the basic gist of the thing.

Story is bad, sub-par but not THAT awful, the twist it’s kinda hard to NOT see coming since it’s hard to imagine it would lead to anything else (given some of the “foreshadowing” and some of the context the narrative eventually provides, let’s put it this way), it’s pretty damn easy to see the twist coming… and it also takes a while for the plot to properly get going too.

I was gonna try to say something positive about the narrative, but heck, even the voice acting it’s bad (kinda enjoyable in its own badness, but still bad)…. so i don’t know where i was going with this attempt at praise. Hope you like british accents, that kind you often hear in videogames.

You might think this is a Platinum Games effort, who cares about the story (which is definitely more Square Enix-y than Platinum’s usual fair), so let’s talk combat, how bad could it be when it’s by Platinum and you can fourwield like freaking Kaku from One Piece (kinda not really)?

Admittely it feels and plays like a Platinum Games’ effort, down to timed dodging resulting in a perfect evade (here restoring part of the stamina for special attacks instead of a time freeze), there’s an evalution screen for each battle keeping a detailed account, but its still bad because there’s no satisfaction to it, and it just barely avoids being EXTRA basic due to the Gideon Coffing thingie meaning you can equip two weapons for special attacks you can use on top of the normal combos, so you can charge a spectral special attack with a hammer while downed or parrying, for example.

You can also grab and launch icicles and such as projectiles against enemies (when the levels do feature these crystal icycles), also using the tendrils that come out of your Gideon Coffin.

In theory it’s nice, in practice is better to have it than NOT have it, but ultimately gives you options to be less bored as you struggle through dozens of boring, sludgy battle encounter with enemies that have some variety but ALL are also absolute damage sponges, because otherwise you won’t be forced to maximize the general overall “Power” level of the character via the gear you get.

Aside from combat there is some need to jump over obstacles, destroying barriers by attacking them, or using the Gideon Coffin as a hookshot to jump over obstacles or chasms, but it’s peanuts, just something that occasionally you gotta do (jump is also laggy, to boot), and aside from some secret stashes of loot indicated by a sound the Gideon Coffin makes, there’s no incentive or need for exploration, so the game it’s all about hack n slash combat, with some levels throwing it some enviromental hazards or some gimmicks like wind moving you about, costant meteor storms, etc.

I’ll say this: the combat in itself it’s competent and there’s some satisfaction to it, the array of weapons isn’t bad and you can have some fun mixing the usage of magic rods, shields, bows and such, it’s working as intended, but it loses much luster and get quite repetitive fairly fast, due to aforementioned spongy enemies, the bosses are a bit better but not doesn’t really stand out as they should, and end up highlighting the “GaaS” design, as playing solo is made a slog.

The basics are there, but there’s no much else, just the bare bones instead of a crafted combat system, the more you dig into the game you realize that the battles are chaotic but hard to read on the fly what’s happening exactly, making the combat mediocre at the very best but mostly worse, and making this the other type of Platinum Game’s output, the crap kind, like TMNT and Legend Of Korra games resides alongside stuff like Anarchy Reigns. I remember that one.

you always seem to be fighting in the same room regardless when you’re tackling mission belonging to the same chapter/stratum of the Ziggurat, the variety of enemy doesn’t properly expands as you go, nor i fear does the depth of the combat systems, which is due “live service” design bullshit, and to be honest i had to kinda force myself through even the levels the demo offered.

The game is also very easy, even solo, as it confusingly gives out enough loot to be often overleveled for the story missions (without needing to grind or craft or shit but just by doing the story missions), or otherwise requiring fairly little time spent grinding in order to become overleveled and remain so in a constant manner.

And for some fuckin reason it does not scale enemies and bosses HP with the number of players, so even playing with another person makes it all just a piss easy slog.

It doesn’t help that despite this being set up a “game as service thingie” with huge emphasis on accruing better looking and useful loot, there’s no good gameplay loop to it, or even a satisfactory feeling to acquiring the loot, even if you need it to increase your overall power level.

The hilarity is that the game eventually does give you more features and ability for combat, but like some of the facilities, it’s absurdly late when you’re given them, for example how only in the third act you unlock a whip-hook function that lets you latch on to enemies and reach them or use the “tendon” to debuff them or shit, some functions for these “Gideon Coffin upgrades” depend on the class/race of the character you’ve created (you can choose between 3, almost forgot, whatever).

Like, this whip-hook function it’s nice and it would help the combat a bit…. but it’s too little and too fuckin late to introduce stuff like that and the combat just isn’t good at a base level nor it does have any real depth in the long run. There is the skeleton of a good Platinum Games opus, but no meat at all on the calcium, even at its best the combat it’s mediocre… though the game is rarely at “its best”, but you can almost have fun with it, there is some nugget of satisfaction to be scraped off it, which is tragic since we’re talking about this specific developer.

The level design also shows some glimmer of the developers trying out some ideas… but then immediately give them up or regress any decent gimmick, while also spreading the spoonful of butter over too many loaves of bread, with levels looking indistiguinshable at a glance due to the rampant reuse of few assets over and over for stages belonging in the same “world/cloyster”.

And then there’s the extra absurdity of the game unlocking extra styles/moveset types for the weapons when you finish the story. So yeah, people on Reddit claiming that the game gets a bit better after you finish it has some truth to it, but that actually worse.

On top of ALL of that, Babylon’s Fall it’s also a very obtuse motherfucker, because it never properly explains many of its systems or intricacies or the features, confusingly locking many of the latter by far late in the game (stuff like recycling or fusing gear/loot… in a looter game), which is contradictory for a “live service” thing that should be designed to hook you into the gameplay loop and shit, but instead alienates mostly the player during the first hours, instead of trying to lull you into paying for the premium currency with real money, buy the fuckin battle pass for the season, etc.

Even the shitty hub world it’s so badly designed, that even hours in i was confused as to where the facilities were located, it’s telling how they put multiple quest boards despite the hub itself being tiny, they knew it was confusing even when you know where to go, so unintuitive that you feel encouraged to not bother with anything else besides the missions themselves.

Only exception being the shop where to also buy microtransactions or the battle pass, because priorities, and of course this full priced live service game has both. And a horrendous interface, but i guess this generation it’s a race for the “AAA” sector to make the UI in big budget full priced games as worse as possible, even after patches.

In terms of content, it took me roughly 30 + hours to finish the game by myself (i even solo-ed the final boss), and after beating the story you unlock Duels, Gauntlets and Sieges, the latter apparently being a bit better as they offer more challenge and variation, thought i do say “apparently” because those kind of quests were clearly meant for late post game since the power level caps required were insane, and i wasn’t gonna invest more time in the game after beating it.

I mean, yeah, maybe the post-game content is a bit better, but like a lot of the stuff you unlock during the story… it really would have been better if it was available from the start or simply doled out better, instead of almost when the story it’s over, emboding the “too little too late” motto.

You also unlock “Skirmishes” missions, i was able to actually try some of those, but they are just more difficult missions with some modifiers, like more explosive barrels around, enemies that are damaged by a specific element, they can feature elusive infamous enemies with a proper unique name/title that drop better loot, but nothing worth caring about, in the end, since they’re not that different or better than regular missions, just more “difficult” and frustrating but not challenging.

In summary, Babylon’s Fall is shit, another one for the depressing folder of “shitty games by Platinum Games”, clearly underdeveloped and “rushed” out, and it makes me a bit sad because i feel that, at one point, the game could have been salvaged by the trappings of the “live service cum microtransactions und battle passes” and be less worse, but the live-service syndrome was there since inception, without i could have seen Babylon’s Fall be at least mediocre, instead of utter shit.

Crappy but not that awful story, a shitty looking affair that seemed like a lost PS3/360 era game due to all the grey and browns, marred by a hack n slash gameplay with the usual solid Platinum Games formula, badly done and lacking any real depth, and inept at providing challenge since enemies and bosses are easy, all just insane HP sponges, with some ideas that are never fully explored, very little variety, and unlocks that would have helped with the combat system if they weren’t given to the player basically at the end of the game. Or AFTER.

And that really says it all, when the game gets slightly less shit on a fondamental level… after you spend 30 plus hours beating it in a tiresome, boring, pointless endeavour that doesn’t even leverage the need for more players to play together, as the difficulty doesn’t scale with the party size.

This is one of those situations where nobody was fooled or hyped by the promises, as it was destroyed in reviews, sold like shit, for a live service game designed entirely about multiplayer co-op experience it was so barely populated that in a specific week it was literally a single player game, and the promised second season of content and related roadmap also fell in the bin, as Square Enix pulled the plug on it by announcing it would close the servers on February 20th 2023, de facto killing the game for good forever, and making the physical released drink coaster.

Which saddens me as a supporter of gaming preservation, even if we’re losing a shit experience, even if Babylon’s Fall was awful and awfully pathetic golden sludge, it’s still a loss. Not one worth weeping about, but still…


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