Babel Rising [rating: 4/5]
Most gaming genres have one application that defines the whole genre. The games that follow that original hit often strive to imitate the original instead of going off in a new direction. When you think about the space occupied by the “wraith of god” type games on the iPhone, your mind will probably immediately go to Pocket God. Pocket God defined the genre and spawned imitators trying to duplicate its success. While Babel Rising by Bulky Pix and White Bird Productions exists in the same space as that venerable game, it makes a niche for itself that is original and thoroughly enjoyable.
Those familiar with Biblical lore will recognize the story of the Tower of Babel. In ancient times the people of Earth spoke with one language and lived as one people. They thrived and as their prosperity and knowledge grew, they became conceited and believed to be equal with God. To prove this, and truly reach God themselves, the people of Earth decided to build a tower at Babel so high that those that climbed it would indeed be able to be with God. It is in this back story that Babel Rising takes place. You are God and your job is to keep the people of Earth from building their tower. You have six powers to aid you in your task: the ability to crush individuals with your mighty hand, the ability to destroy groups with lightning blots, the ability to blow away people with a mighty wind, the ability to wash away victims with a tidal wave, the ability to rain down a firestorm on the unsuspecting, and lastly the ability to cause earthquakes. Each power has its individual destructive range and ability to dispatch the heretics building the tower.
Gameplay is straightforward; keep the Humans from building their tower and continue. If the Humans complete construction you lose. As play progresses the Humans come faster and in larger groups, taxing your capacity to destroy them before more levels can be added to the tower. To keep the player from overusing the most destructive forces, each has an individual recharge time that roughly equates to destructive power. Those abilities that kill the most Humans take longer to recharge. This keeps play varied and interesting. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge if you could just keep breaking out the lightning bolts and earthquakes to destroy the heretics.
The game interface is easy to learn and actually makes sense in the context of the game. To unleash your six powers you use a series of six different gestures and interactions. Individual Humans are crushed with a single touch on the screen. Lightning is unleashed with a single vertical stroke on the game surface. A windstorm is triggered by a single horizontal stroke across the game surface. A tsunami strikes with a dual horizontal stroke on the game surface. A firestorm rains down with a dual vertical stroke. An earthquake erupts by shaking the device. There are no clumsy push button interfaces or selection menus to fumble through. Each move is easy to use, easy to remember, and very satisfying in effect. To practice these moves, you must play through a tutorial before starting the full game. The tutorial is also accessible from the main menu screen at any time if you need more practice.
In addition to the gameplay, Babel Rising also provides achievements and high scores through the hugely popular OpenFeint system. Social gaming is almost a given in the iPhone gaming market and its nice to see such a great game including this functionality. I would have been very disappointed if it had been left out. Social gaming and achievements add so much more replay potential to any game that it’s hard to figure out why any game would do without it.
So in case it isn’t obvious already, I really like Babel Rising. The premise is interesting, the game play is varied and challenging, and the interface simple and easy to learn. It doesn’t try to make anything complicated while presenting a game that will keep you coming back for me. The only flaw I could find with the game is the lack of stages or environments. Gameplay occurs in only one setting. Although I understand this is consistent with the mythology the game is built on, having differing stages or environments that can be selected or progressed to would be a nice addition to this already great game.
Babel Rising is a solid game that shouldn’t be overlooked. Unleashing your wraith has never been so much fun!
- Original premise
- Effective, easy to use interface
- Satisfying fun
The Not So Good
- Lack of varied levels or environments
Reviewed by: Erin Peterson
Babel Rising iPhone Gameplay