Remember Lemmings? I absolutely adored Lemmings when I was younger, it’s such a simplistic puzzle game and, if all else fails, you can try to build ridiculously complex structures and loops of stairs for no real reason. It’s great. However, I’ll admit there were times when I wanted to squish those pesky little builders. Put my bridge in the wrong place will you? Face my wrath!
Babel Rising essentially lets you fulfil those destructive fantasies, although with ancient humans rather than Lemmings. At its core, Babel Rising is a fun cross between a god game and tower defense, all controlled by a solid use of the PlayStation Move. Your goal is to stop the ancient workers building the infamous Tower of Babel (in fact to stop them building three different versions over the course of the game), something they seem rather intent on completing.
- Out June 13th on PSN.
- Requires PlayStation Move.
- Based on iOS game of the same name.
At your disposal are earth, fire, wind and water, all of which have different effects on the workers and priests that you’re trying to destroy. For example earth allows you to lob boulders down from on high, picking off one human at a time, whilst water sets off a rain storm that slows them down.
When you use a power you have to wait for it to recharge, filling a three segment bar. If you wait for all three segments to refill you’ll get more power at your disposal (more rocks in the case of earth, or a bigger rain storm for water), but you can use them with just one bar full if you’re in a tight spot.
As well as these powers, launched with a quick press of the Move button, you have an alternate that’s at your disposal with a longer press of the Move button. So if you’ve got the fire power equipped a short press will give you a fireball, targeted by your Move controlled cursor, whilst holding it down will allow you to draw a temporary wall of fire in front of those annoying workers; something that comes in handy.
If that wasn’t enough variety for you, there’s the final option of your super power, a much larger scale attack that charges up slowly whenever you cause devastation. The water power is by far the best of these, flooding a significant chunk of the tower’s levels and drowning the workers, although it’s quite fun to use the wind one and watch as strong gusts send everyone flying to their death.
Setting a wall of fire like this is ridiculously entertaining.
The only very minor niggle with them is the coloured shell that identifies which element they’re immune to can get lost at times. For example launching the fire special attack, which sends meteorites crashing down, tints the whole screen red, including the shells of priests. It doesn’t ruin things by any means, and the mistake is easily corrected, but it is a minor irritation.
The next of the obstacles thrown at you in gameplay are cursed jars, these present a much tougher challenge than the priests. Individual workers will haul the jars up the tower and, if you hit them, the power you used becomes ‘cursed’, meaning you’re unable to use it for a short period of time. The workers will also put down the pots at a certain point on the path to the top of the tower, leaving you a nasty surprise if you’re not paying attention when you fire off a lightning bolt.
Finally, there are the construction towers. These are much less troublesome than priests or cursed jars, simply speeding up construction of the main tower. They can easily be destroyed before they manage to deploy any extra workers on the tower and don’t really present a significant danger or challenge, unless you’re already overwhelmed and don’t get to them quickly enough.
So to tackle these workers, priests, towers and jars you have three options on how to play the game. The first, and the one we spent the most time with, is the campaign. Whilst this is in some ways an extended tutorial, slowly introducing you to new concept over the course of it, it doesn’t really feel like that.
Although many of the missions are just introducing you to something new, or throwing a slight twist on an old challenge at you, they are substantial and always feel difficult enough that you’re not just breezing through it. There’s probably four hours with this aspect of the game, and it’s certainly worth playing through. The latter levels are actually pretty difficult.
The game doesn't look amazing, but moments like this are impressive for a downloadable title.
Finally there’s the multiplayer, itself featuring five modes (although three of them are basically identical). First up is God vs God, which simply has you seeing who can survive the longest. Next there’s three timed modes (5, 10 and 15 minutes) to see who can score the most points.
The only mildly interesting mode is the co-op, which sees two players each taking two elements and working together to defeat the workers. In a quick play with this mode it seemed pretty interesting, and having two players with different powers certainly has the potential to add some tactical elements.
What’s nice about Babel Rising is that the Move is such a natural control scheme for it, and generally works well. It’s not perfect (camera controls can be a little fiddly), but it’s a good use of the hardware and you feel that it would be far less enjoyable with a controller instead of constrained by the motion only controls.
Graphically the game looks fine, although not particularly special. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it looks respectable and it’s got an art style that it sticks to nicely.
More worthy of praise is the audio. The workers have short chants they sing that let you know they’re on their way, and that seem to speed up as they move towards the top of the tower giving you a nice audio cue to their progress. However, the sound a priest makes when you finally end their puny little life is far more enjoyable, with real sense of satisfaction coming from their dying grunt. Perhaps I enjoyed that aspect a little too much.
- Good use of the Move.
- Nice amount of replayibility in multiplayer and survival.
- Sounds brilliant.
- Camera controls can be fiddly in places.
- Difficulty spikes in the campaign can be a little frustrating, but are easily overcome.
Babel Rising is certainly an enjoyable game but it’s ultimately one of those games that you can take as much or as little from as you want. If you just want to play through the campaign you’ll get a good few hours of enjoyment out of it. If you chose to come back for the survival and multiplayer it will last as long as you still enjoy it, a limit that feels like it could be very distant.
Perhaps the best thing it does though is really hook into your emotions. You might not start off enjoying crushing workers or priests at the start of the game, but by the end you’ll hate them and want to hit them with as much elemental power as you can muster. In fact I could do with squishing some right now.
Note: Although the game is out on Xbox 360, we have no idea how the game plays with Kinect and this review should not be treated as indicative for that version of the game.