Not a great deal has been said about Tower of Babel; the game seems to have found its way onto the Switch’s eShop without anyone noticing where it came from. There isn’t even the slightest mention of the game on the official website or Twitter feed of its publisher, EnjoyUp Games, which is very odd indeed. EnjoyUp published multiple games across the Wii U and 3DS platforms (which, for the most part, happened to be rather average affairs), so it is strange that they wouldn’t be kicking up a fuss about their first Switch release.
Tower of Babel is an auto-runner that sees the protagonist (a knight in shining armour) tasked with collecting gems that can return light to the top of various towers, effectively saving the world. The plot isn’t important here, though; it is all about the gameplay itself. To collect these gems, you will have to survive dangerous trips to the top of spiral towers – by pulling or pushing the control stick you are able to speed up or slow down, and you also have the ability to jump or crouch with ‘A’ and ‘B’ respectively. These are used to dodge various obstacles that stand in your way, as well as jump over any perilous gaps between platforms.
Your first goal is to reach the top of a tower, collecting the required amount of gems, and surviving its traps. Once you get there, though, you then have to run back down the tower to escape as it crumbles to the ground. This effectively means that each tower actually contains two levels – one concerned with grabbing a set amount of collectables, and the other focusing on pure speed. For each duo you can view an online leaderboard of the fastest times achieved so your speed is important on both sections. Later on in the game you will face levels that provide you with a jet-pack and, thanks to this item’s double-jump ability, the speed-running aspect of the game intensifies slightly as you attempt to completely hurdle platforms rather than slowly jumping across each one.
Overall there are five sets of three towers (depending on the skill of the player, you’ll likely find yourself completing the main game in a couple of hours, give-or-take). Each of these five sets is made up of its own theme meaning that your surroundings and obstacles change to match the environment. These new obstacles are introduced at a pleasing rate and many behave in different ways to the ones you are used to from previous stages. The game’s most interesting feature comes from the layout of the three towers in each set – the first tower has just a single lane for you to run in, the second has two, and the third has three. Each tower becomes slightly more complex as a result of this, resulting in a rather satisfying growth in difficulty as you progress.
You’re probably thinking that everything is sounding pretty positive, right? Well you’d be correct, which is why it is so frustrating the game lets itself down with some unforgivable problems. The worst of these problems is an issue with the frame rate; at times it can drop so drastically that any kind of auto-running precision is impossible. As well as this, every now and then we would notice our character narrowly miss the edge of a platform, only to find that pressing the jump button allowed us to carry on as if we had made it. Another time, we paused the game and were presented with a different screen to the usual pause menu which showed a different button layout for the “quit” and “resume” options. We pressed the new button for “resume”, which used to be for “quit”, and were thrown out of the game, losing our progress on that level. Great!
The overall presentation of the game is quite weak too, and has some odd design decisions. The art style has a quirky quality to it that could have been successful but eventually starts to feel bland and, unfortunately, there are times when it just looks plain ugly. The soundtrack is made up entirely of electronic dance tracks which could have been fine – in fact, some of the songs that crop up are great – but when you’re playing as a knight, running up and down medieval towers with a sword in hand, futuristic beeps and chirps aren't exactly the kind of sounds that come to mind. The music is good; it just feels so entirely out of place.
Tower of Babel could have been a great little game; there are moments of brilliance in its auto-running, especially in its later levels where you’ll find yourself whizzing from lane to lane, avoiding obstacles at almost blinding speed. There are just too many issues plaguing the game, though – leaving us in a position where we simply cannot justify a full recommendation. If a particularly nasty stutter in the frame rate happens just as you are about to land on a tiny platform you will inevitably fall to your death and, if we’re being brutally honest, that is unforgivable.
At its best, Tower of Babel has some great auto-running action that will have you flying around the screen at breakneck pace, firing yourself to the top of the speed-running leaderboards. Unfortunately, though, the whole thing is let down by some game-breaking issues and a rather lacklustre aesthetic that maybe answers the question of why there has been so little mention of the game prior to release. A frustrating case of a game that could have been excellent but shoots itself in the foot with its many problems, Tower of Babel is best left for another day.