The Tomorrow Children is a truly bizarre game. I’ve played it for around six hours and I still can’t decide if I like it…
Game: The Tomorrow Children
Developer: Q-Games, SIE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (Review code provided by publisher)
The game takes place in a world where some kind of crazy science experiment has gone wrong. The world that we know has gone and in its place is a flat, white expanse known as the void.
You play as a Matryoshka Doll imbued with human consciousness and you’re tasked with helping rebuild society. Seems like quite the daunting task, but don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Everyone playing the game inhabits the same world and the aim is that you all work together to restore society one town at a time.
You do this by mining resources from islands that spring out of the void, such as metal, and coal. You then ferry those resources back to your town, and use them to build new structures, defenses, and facilities. You will also find more Matryoshka Dolls hidden within the islands which you bring back to town so they can be “transformed” into citizens. Once your town reaches a certain population and is complete (indicated by earning all possible monuments) you then move on to the next town and start the process again.
If you think that all sounds a little weird, well, you’d be right. The game applies an interesting new take on the resource management/sandbox genre. Thematically it takes a lot of inspiration from Soviet Era propaganda and the idea of communism is ingrained into the games mechanics.
There’s a lot to keep track of in a town’s development and only players working together and fulfilling critical roles, will succeed in completing settlements. Whether you choose to gather resources, or construct buildings, or defend the town against monster attacks (more on that later). Everything you do will be recorded and you will collect toil points and ration coupons (the games base currency) for your efforts. You also have to provide food and power for the towns growing population which is a job all in itself.
The tasks themselves are quite monotonous in their design. All the tasks feel like a mini-game that feed into the larger goal of town restoration. Resource gathering is what you would expect, you pick your tool that matches the resource and then wait a few seconds to collect it. Tools also have a finite number of uses, so you have to keep buying replacements. Constructing buildings involves a tile puzzle with the larger buildings having more complex puzzles. Defending the town from shiny Kaiju (known as Izverg) functions like a tower defense game. You build turrets and towers around your town and then use them to defend against the passively rampaging monsters.
That is pretty much all there is to The Tomorrow Children. Doing a little bit of everything feels okay for a few hours. The mining is fun because it takes place on islands made up of all sorts of random things. I’ve mined a guys face, floating sushi, grassy mountains, and even the bodies of fallen Izverg.
The simple game play loops that make up the activities are quite relaxing to do. It definitely scratches the resource gathering itch that games like Minecraft and Terraria are popular for, but it’s the addition of working towards common goals with other players that makes this title stand out. When I am out mining or ferrying collected resources from the loading bay into the towns storage areas, I do feel a sense of purpose. I like that the game puts the focus on working together to build something bigger and better. I think it’s why I don’t mind the fact that your character can carry few resources and items. It’s the kind of decision that on the surface seems harsh or annoying, but actually feeds into the games concept co-operation.
Fighting the Izverg can be fun at times, especially when a town warning bell is rung and all the turrets are manned. The Izverg will fight back but it’s not an action packed engagement; it’s a war of attrition that if you lose, it can set your town’s development back. It’s cool when you’re mining a nearby island and can hear the thud of canons and the godzilla-like roar of an angry Izverg in the distance.
The game visuals are striking to look at. The endless sea of white that is the void, the surface of the world makes for some stunning horizon lines. The reflective white plays beautifully at times with the lighting of the world. The style won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s different and bold. Even the look of the characters I found interesting. If dolls coming to life is something you find terrifying, you’d do well to avoid this game. The characters do look pretty creepy but I liked it, especially when mine was humming to herself while mining an Izverg’s carcass.
The Tomorrow Children is an odd game. It’s hard to talk about with people who haven’t played it. People ask me what it’s about and if I’m enjoying it and I always struggle to answer both questions. It’s a strangely relaxing experience to play it, and although the tasks do get tedious and repetitive, I never found myself caring all that much. The game almost makes manual labor fun!
It’s an interesting little game and I hope the folks over at Q-Games plan on expanding upon what is a strong foundation. That being said, I feel like I’ve already seen everything the game has to offer me and that’s a problem for a free to play game.
I think the fact it’s free on launch will go a long way to ease people’s concerns and frustrations with the content on offer, I just hope there is more to come.
Note: This review is based on the Founders Pack release. The game is free-to-play, but you can buy a pack to gain early access. There is no score due to the game still being in the early access stage and Stephen didn’t feel justified in awarding the game an overall score.