Tower of Babel Review: Is This Runner Speaking Your Language?

OVERVIEW

When you first load up Tower Of Babel, it might strike you as an odd title to land on the Nintendo Switch.  You take the role of a Knight, who must run up rotating towers, collecting gems, to cleanse them of evil… somehow. Regardless, it’s an interesting setting for a runner.  It’s definitely reminiscent of the Temple Run series, but has an interesting take on the mechanics of the genre.

I desperately need to find the elevator.

Every world consists of three towers to conquer, fraught with traps, gaps, and medieval machinery that you must navigate while ascending to the goal.  Each tower changes the running perspective as your knight races around the perimeter: one clockwise, one counter-clockwise, and one from a third-person perspective, behind the runner (the “traditional” runner view).  If you’re able to collect the requisite amount of gems on the trip up, your knight will conquer the tower with a victorious cheer, and the tower will explode… and here’s where things start to get interesting!

Tower of Babel uses an FPS-like damage indicator.  Take a second hit before this clears, and you’re toast!

Once the tower starts to come apart, you, of course, have to run back down.  No parachutes here!  Your knight must traverse the now-unstable stage you just completed, in reverse!  Oh, and there’s a timer ticking the entire time.  You can pick up additional seconds on the way down, and the timer-tied leaderboards provide an incentive for replay as you perfect your skills.

CONTROLS

The controls were very hard to get used to at first, especially as someone who has played more Temple Run than I’d like to admit.  They change depending on the perspective of each stage, and it’s a little disorienting to push “up” to move “up/right” to perform a lane change.  You can also accelerate, and put on the brakes, even in midair.  Think of that as controlling the speed of the stage, rather than your avatar.

Those spikes look very sharp and pointy.

The knight can duck and jump as well, and there lies the main issue with the controls.  This game can be fast, very fast, and if you aren’t paying attention, holding down the jump button can intermittently trigger a second, unwanted jump that plummets your knight to a screaming death.  Later on in the game you acquire a double jump, which functions almost exactly like its counterpart in the Super Nintendo classic, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts.  That can be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal experience, but the simple addition adds a welcome new element to the later parts of the game.

GRAPHICS AND DESIGN

The graphics are good, but not great.  There is occasional clipping, especially into walls after you miss a jump and fall into a gap.  It would have been nice if the devs had incorporated a wider variety of traps in the mix. The later worlds certainly change the aesthetic up quite a bit, which actually gives a spin to the story that we can get behind, even if it is a bit cliché.

Wait, I thought this game was about castles?

The lighting should be noted as the one standout visual feature that impresses.  It provides a very dynamic atmosphere that changes constantly as the towers rotate, which makes later stages especially challenging as you rotate out of the light and have to traverse deep areas of shadow.

MUSIC

If there’s one aspect of this game that really shines, it’s the music.  The music in Tower of Babel drives the action, providing a thumping, urgent EDM-like soundtrack to your quest.  Despite initially feeling out of place in the swords-and-castles setting, the songs really enhance the atmosphere.  It was absolutely the highlight of the game for us, and deserves a lot of praise.

…but he still has to run back down.

CONCLUSION

Tower of Babel is a very challenging and absolutely unique runner with amazing music.   If you’re into the genre, enjoy perfecting time-attack challenges, and want to conquer a runner handled with a bit more depth and creativity than your average smartphone game, definitely check this one out.  However, for most people looking for a new indie title on the Switch, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.  

Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download
Publisher – EnjoyUp Games
Price – $9.99
Genre – Runner

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