Review – Tower of Babel
Tower of Babel is another stealth release on the Nintendo Switch that has gotten next to no press and not even a release announcement from its own devs, but I have been pleasantly surprised by other titles with similar circumstances. EnjoyUp is known for creating a handful of decent downloadable titles on the Wii-U and DS so its strange that this game isn’t even listed on their own website as their first game on the Switch. The red flags are there, but do they fly true?
Essentially what we have here is another automatic runner akin to Temple Run and Subway Surfers. You play as a knight who is tasked with an objective of running up a tower collecting gems to destroy it. Why? Well that question is never really answered, but the towers are evil and need to be destroyed by this knight and that’s all you really need to know. You don’t need to know why the knight is in space fighting aliens, just run up that tower and defeat the dang thing.
What sets Temple of Babel apart from other auto run games is that each chapter has a set of 3 levels and each level provides not only new challenges and traps, but also different perspective changes to at least keep each chapter feel fresh instead of just 3 levels of slightly different traps. Level 1 is your standard 2d, one linear lane where you mostly just focus on jumping, ducking and adjusting your speed by holding back to slow down and forward to speed up. I felt like these levels were just a warm up to get use to each chapters new traps. Level 2 adds an additional lane to the mix so now you have to add in moving left and right. Level 3 adds another lane but also changes the perspective to behind the knight which make it harder to view things coming up. Once you make it up to the top with the required amount of gems (which they give you at least 2 or 3 extra ones) the tower will start to crumble and fall and you have to navigate the knight all the way down the tower within a set limit of time. Running down the tower offers its own set of challenges since the trap layout isn’t the same as when you ran up, luckily they do offer time bonuses you can grab on your way down.
Now while I did enjoy myself through most of the fairly short campaign, it is certainly not free of its issues. While I can ignore silly themes like a knight going to space, I can’t ignore the performance issues and questionable design choices. Like mentioned above, you’re attacking towers but these towers are round so while you’re running up or down them everything is coming around a corner. It isn’t terrible in the 2d modes, but in the 3d levels with the camera behind you this offers some, at times, unfair angles. Certain levels will have a fairly large trap fall in front of you that will block your view so jumping over them and then seeing a gem 2 lanes over is not exactly possible to maneuver to in time. If you’re quick and have fast reflexes however, you probably still won’t get that gem because of the input lag and the struggling frame rate.
Another thing that was a bit of a disappointment is the lack of progression. While you do get a jet-pack that allows you to make a double jump (which is very important in the later levels) the rest of the gameplay is all what I detailed above. I was hoping they were going to introduce some different kind of trap styles or enemies that would require you to use your shield and sword. I feel like that would have helped keep the variety there and would offer a greater challenge to the player because as it is now, Temple of Babel is pretty easy besides the unfair design, input lag, and bad frame rate.
The visuals aren’t exactly ugly, but they aren’t very appealing either. It has a heavy cell shaded look with a plain color pallet and any textures it has are really muddy. It is strange that it still has such bad performance issues, considering it doesn’t have high graphical fidelity. Another weird design choice that doesn’t get explained, is when the knight gets hit by anything, a massive sea of blue stuff comes flying out of him. Not really an issue, but just another strange decision. The sound department isn’t all that great either. Nothing really comes out as a high quality sound effect besides the music, but the music gets a bit repetitive and seems out of place for me. I’m not the biggest fan of the heavy EDM especially with my medieval knights in a game called Tower of Babel, but this isn’t so much an issue as it is my personal taste.
So to answer my first question, yes, those red flags are there for a reason and you should definitely listen to them. It seems the devs don’t have confidence in this product for a good reason, because it’s essentially just another mobile auto runner that runs worse on dedicated video game hardware than a cell phone game you can get for free. It had its unique ideas and I found some fun with it in short bursts, but with the short campaign and the lack of execution and polish I can’t recommend this game, especially for $9.99.
A copy of Tower of Babel was provided by the developer.
Tower of Babel is available now on Nintendo Switch.