Tokyo Babel is a Visual Novel set in a universe where hell is flooded and heaven is sealed shut, leaving both demons and angels stranded. Both races settle upon a floating fortress called Tokyo Babel located in Purgatory and are told by the “Messenger of God” Remiel that in order to set everything right they must climb all seven levels of their new home to beg forgiveness. With the combined power of the demons and angels it seemed an easy task but soon figured out nothing could be further from the truth. The further up you ascend the levels of Tokyo Babel the more likely you are to go mad and attack both friends and foes alike. To this day the highest anyone has been is the fourth level out of the seven necessary to reach Jacob’s Ladder and seek forgiveness.
So the stage is set for your character Tendou Setsuna, a “human” to be recruited into the ranks of Tokyo Babel in an attempt to conquer it once and for all. It is one heck of a setup and a very unique concept for a story. Throughout your journey you will be accompanied by three possible love interests. Lilith, a demon who is a very goofy and tomboyish kind of character, Raziel a shy and lazy angel and finally Sorami, the character we initially start off as. The intro starts off as an amazing horror story but will soon shift its focus to Setsuna and never again frightening. It serves to show just how insane the characters affected by the madness Tokyo Babel inflicted them are and how strange the dimension of Purgatory is. It’s probably one of the most interesting part of the game funnily enough.
After certain events all the main characters meet up and take Sorami to a high school where everyone has set up base. It was quite shocking and disappointing that they managed to shoehorn in such a cliché setting to such a unique world. A large portion of the game is set in that school and is used to strengthen are understanding of the characters and is also where most of the lighthearted moments take place. It is an insane change of pace from the intro where you are trying to escape a nightmarish world and soon after that you are playing as some dude taking class when the universe is at stake. Not to say its not very entertaining just doing that due to the great characters in this game though it feels disappointing nonetheless due to wasting countless possibilities to focus on the High School setting tons upon tons of Visual Novels have done to death.
Pay close mind to the choices you make throughout the game as the most seemingly minor of things can quickly cause things to spiral out of control. There are not tons of choices to make but the couple it has are very entertaining. You may get a bad end though most of the time it isn’t just a dead end where you are killed soon after making that choice but a well thought out, branching path where you don’t realize you messed up until later on. One of the greatest things about this title that many other Visual Novels fall victim to is reading the same dialogue multiple times. That does not occur here, once you make a choice everything there after is completely fresh content and separate from anything that occurs in the other, making it a real pleasure to even get the bad endings since it may give you insight to something you would have otherwise missed and the endings are just as good as the real ones.
You know they are doing something right when you lose the game and are still praising them. Your second choice of the game that involves who you investigate first is by far the most important one you’ll make since that is how you choose which of the three routes to take. One is locked until you have finished the other two but man, is it worth playing all of them. They are absurdly different from one another and nearly feels like you’re playing a new game. Enemies may now be friends, entire events change and even the original objective of braving Tokyo Babel will change into something else entirely. These routes are not interwoven however, the enemies you face in a certain place may be replaced with another or they may flat out not exist. There is no continuity to be found between them though playing all three of them is necessary to comprehend all that has happened and why.
It’s not a short game either. If you want a short and easy to digest Visual Novel look elsewhere because each route may take you over 20 hours. That is assuming you use a guide since there are not just bad ends but good ends, true ends and more for each route so unless you know exactly what you are doing it will take you longer to get the true ends required to unlock the third route. This game has a ton of content, more than I’ve personally ever seen from a Visual Novel to date. Sounds like I’m plain worshiping this title by now so let’s talk about some of the bad shall we.
The main character. He is terrible. The typical broody and emotionless kind of character made even worse in that he always pulls something off at the last second to win a fight. You know the type of kid in the playground that when playing gets defeated and summons an “Anti-Everything shield”? That would be Tendou Setsuna and his insane plot armor that completely kills any tension in the action scenes since you know he will pull something out of thin air. It nearly makes you want to skip every fight scene since why bother? It’s a real shame since that feeling of fear and desperation when facing someone far above your league that the intro had is completely lost and replaced with plot armor so thick you can see it from miles away. His backstory is decent at the very least and his lack of emotion does lead to hilarious moments so he’s not a total flop of a character.
The heroines and side characters are far more interesting and based on figures of Christianity and Judaism such as Uriel, Samael and Belial to name a few important figures. Do not go in expecting a fateful recreation of said figures though. This game takes many, many liberties, to the point of merely having the same name and a few of their basic characteristics such as Belial being an attorney. With that in mind the characters in here are well written with very few evil for the sake of it characters. All of them are fully voice acted in Japanese only and have professionally written text in English. Whether the music is to your liking depends on whether or not you like the Grunge genre though the supplemental music to create ambiance or set the mood is pretty well done.
The art style is very nice but the maximum resolution is 1280×720 so if your monitor is above that resolution it will look very stretched out if you decide to play it in fullscreen. As some of you may be aware Tokyo Babel is also sold on MangaGamer but despite that this is not a hentai title nor does it feature any nudity even on their version. Both are the exact same game and Steam’s version has not been censored. It’s a rather weird decision on the devs’ part considering how much fanservice is in the game and it would not have been out of place. Not really a negative by any means but something that may have been on your mind. After finishing one of the routes you will unlock the “Extras” menu on the main screen that allows you to view any backgrounds, music or character/weapon lore you have unlocked so far. Strangely enough the lore for the characters are for the biblical ones and their origins not for the characters that are actually in the game. At the end of the day I can see someone looking at the price of this title and thinking it’s a total ripoff but rest assured you get what you pay for. Tons of content as well as an interesting world and characters make this one Visual Novel well worth your time.