Tokyo Babel is a unique visual novel that takes heavy inspiration from religion, but at the same time it offers thrilling action scenes, sweet romance, ridiculous comedy and even a pinch of science fiction, sure to pique your interest no matter what you may like.
The game opens up with a bang. Our heroine, Kugutsu Sorami, is suddenly awoken in a desolate classroom by the ringing of an out of place phone. After picking up the receiver she is told that something sinister is out to get her and she must run, hide and trust no one until help arrives.
Not wanting to spoil things, Sorami is promptly saved by Tendou Setsuna, a mysterious boy who has nanomachines coursing through his veins, Lilith a seductive yet silly demoness and Raziel a klutz angel in search for her missing Sefer Raziel, a grimoire containing all the knowledge of earth and heavens alike. This unlikely group sets out on a pilgrimage to break through each of the seven stratums of Tokyo Babel in order to ultimately unlock the door of heaven which remains steadfast closed.
But their journey isn’t an easy one, since each floor has a guardian. These are former angels or demons which went insane due to the song that can be heard throughout the giant mechanized floating pyramid that is Tokyo Babel. The pilgrims set forth to liberate each floor and uncover the truth of the Tokyo Babel and save the multiverse.
At a glance the characters may seem a bit generic, but scratch the surface a bit and things get far more interesting. Each character has an interesting past just waiting to be uncovered.
Tokyo Babel borrows some of its concepts from Fate Stay/Night with moderate success. While you shouldn’t come expecting a story of that style and ambition here, what Tokyo Babel does, it manages to do without fault. There is no denying that the action scenes are the best aspect of Tokyo Babel. The screen is showered with effects left and right, while the characters cast whatever over-the-top skill or weapon they have at their disposal; it’s a romp. And most important of all none of these scenes ever overstay their welcome.
Even with its excellent action scenes, the game is no slouch in the romance department. These scenes serve as a great way to change up the pace. For once it was refreshing to see the protagonist and the chosen heroine not hide the fact that they are a couple. The characters slowly explore their relationship, while in constant peril about what awaits them next.
After liberating each floor, our group returns to the high school which serves as their home base. This school is inhabited by both demons and angels. While it’s a totally ridiculous premise, I couldn’t but enjoy the sheer madness of it all. Watching an angel and demon play “Civilization Universalis IV” together, rushing for nuclear weapons, is something I can’t say I have ever heard of in my life.
As the name suggests, Tokyo Babel is heavy in religious motives, especially from Christianity and Judaism. But it is not only limited to those, extending to Egyptian, Japanese and even Norse mythology. There are a ton of references sprinkled about.
Even for its shorter running time, Tokyo Babel has a sparse number of choices. However, it was not until I got my first ending that I found out that almost every single choice has a drastic impact on the outcome of the game. The game actually branches near the beginning with each route corresponding to one of the three heroines of the game.
Visually the game looks great featuring a clean and modern artstyle. Characters jump in excitement and have a variety of expressions. There is also a large number of high quality artworks that add to the already superb atmosphere.
The soundtrack is also good, offering a total of 30 memorable tracks. Despite the rocking tunes, the music does end up being a bit repetitive by the end.
There isn’t a single dull moment in Tokyo Babel. And while it may not live up to the quality and immersive storytelling of other more popular visual novels, it definitely offers something not often seen. If you are into action packed romcoms with religious overtones, Tokyo Babel is one game that you shouldn’t miss out on.
Thanks goes to MangaGamer for providing us a review copy of this game. Tokyo Babel is available on MangaGamer’s website as well as Steam. If you are on the fence you can download the demo available on MangaGamer’s website.