What is the concept? Building on a design introduced by French developer Whitebirds’ (Nikopol: Secrets of the Immortals, Last King of Africa) popular iPhone game, the console version of Babel Rising permits players to punish an insubordinate populace. As an unseen deity vexed by humanity’s attempt to build a tower which reaches up to the heavens, players use a variety of powers to deliver fury against an incessant procession of builders, priests, and ships. Although players can use a standard controller to cause calamity in the home iteration’s 3D modeled world, Babel Rising also supports motion-sensing peripherals for those who yearn for a bit of physicality during their sadistic smiting.
Once players complete a handful of tutorial levels which automatically select a player’s elemental loadout, subsequent stages allow for a bit of customization, offering two selections from the game’s pool of Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind abilities. Regardless of which type of attack is chosen, each element provides a trio of separate attacks, providing gamers with light, medium, and utterly devastating strikes. At its core, Babel Rising is a cool-down management game- tasking players with balancing the flow of offensive attacks, vaguely resembling combat from a MMO like World of Warcraft.
At first, the title only offers up a succession of defenseless builders which are ideal fodder for your incendiary assaults and torrential attacks. Later levels require a vigilant watch as clergymen with resistive auras, carriers of cursed jars, and an increased number of spawn points elevate the title’s challenge level. To foster a sense of variety, Babel Rising scrambles your objectives; occasionally you’ll be trying to kill a specific number of builders, while other stages require players to persevere for a certain amount of time.
What are the game’s strengths? Much like an Old Testament adaptation of Beachhead, repelling a dogged convoy of opponents can be strangely compelling. The title’s best moments occur when you unleash Babe’s most formidable attacks- such as the giant boulder which spirals down the Tower of Bebel’s walkaway, crushing helpless peons as your combo gauge increases. Likewise, summoning a structure-submerging tidal wave on the brink of imminent conquest is wonderfully rewarding.
Unlike a number of games in the Kinect’s Library, Babel Rising proves to be surprisingly responsive, allowing players to cultivate a tornado or fireball with relative ease. Switching elements is handling with either a verbal command or crisp hand clap, while your dominant arm aims as the other appendage issues up attacks. Pushing an arm down for light attacks, pointing at the screen for medium strike, and reaching skyward for a formidable assault is fairly instinctive, with slapdash gestures resulting in requests to “straighten your arm” or to move “faster”. Although playing Babel Rising with motion commands doesn’t offer the swiftness of a controller input, in a party setting these mechanics could shine.
What are the game’s weaknesses? While warding off dogged humans is enjoyable in short doses, Babel Rising’s levels often overstay their welcome. Stages habitually breach the ten-minute mark, with marked intensity often only appearing in the concluding moments. Ideally, each round should have been half its actual length. When using Kinect-based gestures, fatigue is likely to emerge after four or five levels.
Compounding this problem is the lack of diversity in the player’s arsenal. Although most religions depict God as an omnipotent being, the lack of any progression limits Babel Rising’s longevity. A single tech tree where players could upgrade their elemental arsenal might have helped to offset the tedium of the game’s lengthy levels. As it stands, once players pass the title’s tutorial, Babel’s collection of offense tools remain regretfully static.
Is it worth the money? Although the console iteration of Babel Rising is exponentially more expensive than its iPhone-based brethren, players do receive local splitscreen multiplayer, controller and motion-based input methods, as well as nicely rendered (and rotatable) tower. Factor in robust leaderboard support along with stat assessment and Babel offers an enjoyable diversion only beset by the title’s stretched out stages and stagnant repertoire of godly powers.