Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Birthdays The Beginning (PS4) Review
Birthdays the Beginning starts with a simple premise: change the terrain to help create and sustain life in an effort to return home. It's basically a god simulator, where changing the height of land and water will change the temperature, thereby spawning new life, ending some, and changing others.
It's pretty easy to control, too. There are two views: macro and micro. Micro allows you to raise and lower the terrain and the cost of HP. Be careful with positioning and not to mash the button, as you will inevitably waste HP. You can also scan new creatures to add them to your massive organism list/tree, and use items. Or just sit back and watch the creatures roam around. Time does not move forward in this mode. As you scan creatures, your level increases, which allows you to terraform larger areas. This increases the HP cost proportionally.
Macro view allows you to recover HP fairly quickly as time progresses, or fast forward time by spending a little HP. Basically, you zoom in to change the land, which then changes the temperature, which allows creatures to be born (hence the 'birthdays' in the title). When you zoom out and let time flow forward, these changes actually start to take effect. Like real life, it is a slow process, and the results aren't guaranteed.
There are four chapters for the story, which takes you through different parts of the development of life on earth (sea life, lizards, dinosaurs, people, etc). At first, they give you simple tasks that are clearly laid out, so you can do your best to meet the birth requirements, rinse and repeat until the chapter ends. Build for a bit, then wait for a bit. It's pretty fun and helps you get used to the game. During the third chapter, they decide to open it up a bit, and give you a final goal, but not the necessary milestones along the way.
This is where it frustrated me. I made all the other goals, and thought I had a handle on how the game functions, and how to do what I needed to. When they skip over milestones, it became much harder for me to complete it in a timely fashion. I would meet the temperature and moisture requirements, wait, and...nothing. Tried giving more room, change some other things, and...still nothing. Eventually I realized that looking at the 'tree' view of the creatures, not the 'list' view would sometimes help, as there were steps I needed that I didn't know about, like creature Y coming from Z instead of X. Still, there were times when that didn't help. Since it takes a bit for the temperature and other things to catch up to changes, figuring out what went wrong can be a long, arduous, and annoying process.
Besides the normal/story mode, there is also a challenge mode, which gives you a pre-made world and objective. Some of them have special features, like height affecting temperature at a greater rate, and tasks you with completing them. You have a fairly generous time frame to do so, and it logs your quickest completion. A nice addition, but probably not one I would finish off. There's also a free mode, which I think was patched in, which is good for trying out new things, relaxing, or cleaning up some of the creature specific trophies.
Overall, Birthdays the Beginning was alright. Not great, but not terrible. It was fairly relaxing as long as all the milestones were working, but annoying when they didn't seem to, despite the conditions being met. You will get around 10-20 hours out of the story mode, a few more out of the challenges, and a lot more if you dive into the free mode. A solid offering for the price if you like god simulator games.
Fairly easy going god simulator that won't give you the same experience twice.
It can take awhile for changes to show, which doesn't help you learn as quickly. Annoying when life doesn't happen even though conditions are met.
Weird that global warming is a useful thing in the game.
(Review code for Birthdays the Beginning was provided by the publisher)