boxart
Game Info:

Babylonia
Developed By: Mad Data
Published By: HH-Games
Released: July 25, 2019
Available On: Microsoft Windows
Genre: Match-3/Puzzle, Simulation
ESRB Rating: None specified
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $3.99

First, thanks to HH-Games for providing this review key.

Games that try to combine genres tend to either do well or make a mess of the genres they combine, and while even some of the failures can be interesting, some of the successes can still be mediocre. Babylonia attempts to mix Match-3 gaming with a gardening sim for a change of pace.

Babylonia's story is based on a version of the origins of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a Wonder of the World whose existence is debatable but presumed true to the original tales in-game, with a bit of embellishment. While accurate to the general story it was attributed to King Nebuchadnezzar II as a gift for his wife Amytis, the game mixes in some Semitic mythology about how Babylonian Goddess Ishtar was an avid patron of the Gardens. Their fall into disrepair and ruin is the impetus of the game; she wants you, the player, to restore them to their former glory.

This provides the reason for the Match-3 gameplay, where you must recover various seeds for the reborn gardens via collecting them Match-3 (line up three or more items in a row style) at the various levels. In between, with money earned by completing the stages, you must rebuild the general shrines of the gardens while planting the various plants and flowers that the original gardens had to fully restore the Hanging Gardens to their former glory.

Babylonia
Highlights:

Strong Points: Odd but interesting blend of Match 3 and gardening simulator game
Weak Points: Weak replay value
Moral Warnings: Mild mentions of magic and Semitic mythology

The intermissions are where the game becomes a gardening sim because the plants you add will need occasional watering. Pest control is also required to prevent plants from dying, and the funds you acquire to build the gardens will need to be occasionally diverted for extra water and pest killer to keep the plants healthy. A meter determines the overall prosperity of the gardens, and to win, it must remain full while all the buildings are completed.

The Match-3 gameplay is much like the other Match-3 games in the same vein made by the developers (such as The Adventures of Perseus), and while you can purchase some generic "magic" to clear the board faster, the gameplay remains simple enough that this is not essential, just makes the game easier. You can extend levels by not clearing the board as fast as possible, since water and pest killers are occasional drop rewards, so a bit of doing this can speed up the garden sim side if done on occasion while clearing Match-3 levels. Replay value is a bit low, as aside from some custom unlockable screens you can use as computer wallpaper for your computer, the main game is somewhat short.

Babylonia
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 95%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Graphics are quite good, with a Middle Eastern flair mixed with a colorful floral theme for most in-game graphics, and the cutscenes and backgrounds have the same theme with a slightly more realistic look. Sound is somewhat limited, but the music is filled with lots of flutes and woodwind instruments, and the sound effects follow the same pattern, with both being pleasing to the ear. Controls are very responsive and are driven completely by the mouse. Stability is much improved from other games made by this developer, and aside from occasional complaints on some screens for resolution reasons due to poor widescreen support, no other issues were noted.

Morally, this game has only a few minor concerns. Violence and language issues are nonexistent, and sexual content is nil. Aside from some references to Ishtar being a Babylonian goddess, she mostly exists to reward you with new flowers to plant and to give reminders not to neglect the state of the gardens. The magic you can buy is incredibly generic, no specific religious connotations are given to it, and it mostly exists as an obvious gameplay element to speed up clearing levels. There are no real ethical concerns either; you are just restoring a garden and its associated buildings back to their former historical state.

From my take on things, this is a nice casual game worth its low price tag that is short but a decent time waster. Morally, aside from some offhand references to Semitic myth, it has nothing offensive to any older child and up either.