I genuinely do not know what fascination I have with Babylon’s Fall. As a fan of PlatinumGames, to the point where several games in their portfolio are among my favorite titles of all time, perhaps it’s like watching my own beach house slowly succumb to the tide. I think, more than just disappointment, I find the game notably fascinating as this complete failure from every perspective. I cannot imagine that this released title is what anyone wanted when they first revealed the game, but it appears to be a strange mix of effete and budget-constrained fiascos that coalesce into a washed out hot mess in game form.
Which is, on its own, completely captivating as a meta-narrative. Why does this game exist? How did it get made? And why are they still working on it?
That last question got renewed vigor today as Square Enix released an interview with Directors Kenji Saito and Takahisa Sugiyama. Saito directed games like Metal Gear Rising, one of the best action games of all time, indicating that there’s a lot of good talent on the game that was not properly used.
In the interview, which is likely stilted due to translation but comes off as begrudging at best, the pair mention that they have received a lot of feedback about the game and are looking at ways they can fix it. They cite the pandemic as one of the reasons things went sideways with the game, as well as relative inexperience making it games as a service. This does not do a very sufficient job explaining why the game looks worse than its 2019 reveal, but you know, it’s not an invalid reason.
The first step in this is removing the filter overlaid on the game that gives everything a gaussian-blurry look theoretically intended to mimic watercolors. In execution, however, it basically does not work out well at all. In our review of the game, I stated “It’s never easy to look at Babylon’s Fall and tell exactly what is happening, which feels like a fundamental flaw for an action title that emphasizes perfect dodging, a PlatinumGames staple.”
The Directors said they did not do enough testing on the graphics, which seems like a polite way to say they had to rush the game after the filter was added. They repeat that they did not realize the filter causes players stress, which is not what I would call it, but it also seems very polite.
The interview is also not terribly well copyedited, either, as it repeats the same question and answer twice in a thing that probably should have been caught before publishing and still has not been fixed hours afterward.
While it is not directly mentioned in the text, a screenshot of the character creator shows an actual black character, which the release version more or less failed to allow.
The pair say they have more improvements based on feedback they have been getting from the game’s Discord, but it’s honestly a question of what more can be done and what’s just them trying to build a house on a mudslide. I don’t think Babylon’s Fall is going to be able to right itself like Final Fantasy XIV did, the foundation just isn’t there and the reputation is already terrible. What do Square Enix and PlatinumGames think they are going to get out of this? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Babylon’s Fall is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.