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'Tomorrow Children' preaches well but doesn't play well

September 26, 2016

By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada

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The Tomorrow ChildrenAnnounced some time back in 2014, The Tomorrow Children appeared to be a mysterious, avant-garde looking indie title with a minimalistic aesthetic, reminiscent of acclaimed indie hits such as Journey and the Unfinished Swan. Having my interest peaked, I intentionally avoided any media coverage of the title and aimed to experience it without preconceived notions formed. It’s not often one can successfully avoid the ever increasing media barrage that follows a title until release. Fortunately, I managed to do so.

Though after roughly one hour of playtime, I was disappointingly faced with the realities of what The Tomorrow Children essentially is. A microtransaction-laden resource gathering sim with a unique aesthetic being its only distinguishing feature.

The Tomorrow ChildrenAfter an abrupt start, I roamed around an infinite white purgatory aimlessly with an unnerving wooden doll at my whim. Shortly after, a prompt provided clarity on what exactly had transpired as well as what my role will be thus forth. The world has fallen victim to a societal collapse brought on by failed scientific testing. What remains of civilization now exists in “The Void”; an ominous white plane equal parts tranquil and eerie.

Within The Void exist towns. Every now and then, procedurally generated islands will materialize on the periphery of where these scattered townships lie. These islands harbour resources that you the player must extract. Once these minerals are obtained, you will contribute them to a communal reserve, allowing you and other online players to slowly build the common necessities a township requires for stability. Essentials such as housing, hydro and defenses are the first and most popular constructions users will create. Other build options that cater to non-essential needs usually follow suit. Multiplayer consists of running into fleeting ghostly renditions of other live players. Much like how the Dark Souls series of games handles its online community.

The Tomorrow ChildrenResource gathering titles are all about a rhythm. Mine, build, upgrade and repeat. If this delicate tempo doesn’t advance at a reasonable pace then gameplay quickly becomes a chore. It seems as if the development team aimed to make mining, easily one of the most significant parts of the aforementioned gameplay loop, the most monotonous. For starters, the bag in which your character can store resources in is all too small thus forcing multiple trips to and from the mineral-rich islands. To make matters worse, the public transportation runs on a pre-determined schedule and when boarded, requires you sit through the entire unexciting commute until arriving at your destination. More instances of The Tomorrow Children’s poor design choices can be seen throughout. Take the pick axe for example. The base model in which you start with is extremely weak and takes a quite a while for the tool to perform its sole function. Though, if you’re willing to drop some cash there is a premium version of the axe that gets the job done in half the time but keep in mind, tools break and even your premium purchases are ephemeral.

Commentaries on societal classism are present in The Tomorrow Children but in a duplicitous fashion rather than a provocative one. The game offers players the option of purchasing an add-on entitled, “The Bourgeoisie Papers”. As one can discern from the title, the add-on permits those to own privileges that most other players won’t enjoy. Since The Tomorrow Children’s aesthetic and tone pulls heavily from communist era Russia and all of its Marxist ideologies, having an add-on of this nature is clearly intended as some form of witticism.

The Tomorrow ChildrenCommentary that is politically driven is nothing new in art forms. Personally, I love seeing game makers feel poised enough to include such statements in their respective pieces of work. Whether it encourages discussion, baffles or simply evokes thought, I personally think it’s a welcome trend. The problem lies in when people aim to criticize a certain topic, while being guilty of committing it themselves. The Bourgeoisie Papers pack is still an in-game transaction that costs real money. It’s not so much that the price is irksome; it’s simply having a price at all that’s the problem.

 

The Tomorrow Children The Tomorrow Children
Format: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Q-Games, SIE Japan Studio
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: Rating: 4 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.