The Library of Babel review | Not to be confused with the short book by Jorge Luis Borges, The Library of Babel is a Stealth, platformer game in which we play as Ludovik, a robot investigator who is tasked with finding out the reason behind the Babel’s sudden lockdown. Set within the jungles of Babylon, Ludovik not only has to contend with the wildlife but there is also a robotic cult known only as “Kaborist” who will kill Ludovik on sight. Despite not being directly tied to the book, there are clear inspirations drawn from it and the game does its best to discuss heavy themes throughout, including our mythological creators. The Library of Babel is clearly a labor of love, but is it any good? Read on to find out more.
|Developer||Tanuki Game Studio|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What We Liked!
- The Graphics | The Library of Babel has some stunning hand-drawn graphics. I was actually blown away at times at just how good this game looks. The Library of Babel has some large sweeping landscapes that show off faraway planets, birds flying across huge open skies, and some smaller more confined areas. Each of these places drips with detail and looks fantastic. It is honestly one of the best-looking 2D games I have seen.
- Audio | The music and sounds in The Library of Babel are excellent. Each new area has its own unique sound, cutscenes have decent sound effects given that there is no voice acting here. The huge sweeping landscapes have some nice angelic tones, with other areas being more somber. The lower sections of the Colony called “The Depths”, have a more sinister tone which really brought out the dark, foreboding nature of the location.
- The Plot | Set within the backdrops of a futuristic world, The Library of Babel follows Ludovik, a robot investigator who is tasked with finding out what has happened with the sudden lockdown of Babel. It does draw on themes from the book, and with it, discusses some very heavy topics, and for those into science fiction will find a lot of interesting bits to take away, perhaps even research more. Not only does the game have a central story to contend with, but there are also sub-stories to sink your teeth into which were also pretty good, such as the Kaborist cult featured in the game.
- The NPC’S | While the NPC’s do have a lot to say and can be interesting at times, there is an awful lot of reading to be done in order to progress the game, and also get hints on where to go and what to do if you get stuck. There are countless people to speak to in the world and at times it can become a bit of a chore.
- The Stealth | The Library of Babel makes it clear that this is a platform-stealth adventure game, except one could argue that the stealth isn’t really what you would call stealth. Over the years we have been treated to many games using stealth as a mechanic. The Library of Babel however is very simple in the way it executes it. If you are in an enemy’s path or line of sight, holding crouch will make your character hide behind boxes, rubble, and sandbags followed by a green outline letting you know you are hiding. The mechanic works, it is just very simple and involves a lot of waiting.
- The AI | The enemies in The Library of Babel are dumb. They function, but it is very apparent that they don’t pose much of a threat. When an enemy has their back turned you can run and jump, and they will not notice you. Strangely though, if you attempt to move when in cover they will turn almost immediately though and shoot you. Instant death. Combine this with the amount of waiting for them to pass, and if they kill you having to do this all over again is just a pain.
What We Disliked
- Sluggish | The Library of Babel likes to make you wait. If it’s not the slow-moving pace of the guards protecting the area, it’s a slow-moving platform that takes ages for it to arrive. Not only this, but the entire world seems to move at a snail’s pace. For something that is meant to be set in the future, it feels like they have taken a step back in autonomy. Need to drag a box? If so, your character will do this slowly. Even the lasers that frequently scan the world looking for lifeforms take forever to move, and in some instances leave you exposed when doing so. It’s a shame since every time the game introduces some sort of new mechanic, it usually ends up being slow.
- Bad Guidance | The Library of Babel does offer a notebook that gives you updates on your quests so that you can track everything you need to do. However, the game doesn’t make this clear. I only found this out later on in the game when playing and even then it is incredibly vague. For instance, when acquiring one of the game’s many keycards, it simply tells you to use the keycard at the edge of Jambala Forest. Since there were many ways to enter here it required checking each place before I finally found the entrance. Each direction or goal was exactly the same.
- Cumbersome Inventory | Throughout The Library of Babel you will come across items that you find hidden in the world. Some of these items can be combined to form new items and be given to NPC’s for different items or used to complete side quests. The inventory itself is fine, but combining items and finding out which items can be combined is a challenge in itself. None of the items are marked in any way that can be identified as combinable. It is purely trial and error. Sometimes you may get a hint from a character in the world that some items can go together but given how much talking you are expected to do, it’s not surprising that many people will choose to avoid talking where they can. Some items that would never go together were combinable, and some that were clearly meant to go together did not.
How long to beat the story | 12 hours
How long to get all achievements | 12 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Disco Elysium, Hollow Knight, and Rain World.
The Library of Babel is somewhat of a mixed bag. On one hand, it looks great, offers a decent story, and has good audio. But it just isn’t enough to overlook its glaring issues. Its slow pace and sluggish mechanics will frustrate you at times, often resulting in death, only delaying the progress you make. If you are looking for a solid story and something that looks nice, then give it a try, but other than that, there isn’t much in the way of waiting.
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Gaming is in my blood. Be it handheld games, Xbox, PC, Switch or Playstation, I am all over it.
I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.