I went into The Tomorrow Children with almost no concept of the game. A type of resource collecting and world building game? After a simple and bizarre tutorial, I learned the world had ended leaving the Void in its wake. I am some sort of projection that is set about working in this Void to make the world livable again. Clearly, this was a Marxist world that appeared to be based on the Soviet Union. I mined some minerals and learned I’d disappear if I was in darkness too long. Sure, I roll with it.
After the tutorial, I was dumped into a village and stood around in a complete stupor. I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do…literally zero knowledge on where to even begin. I saw a bunch of materials on the ground before me and was confused by the pile. I watched another player appear out of thin air (took me a second to realize it was another real person), pick up a piece of ore, and drop it off a few feet away.
Simple enough. I followed suit and began picking up the items on the ground and running over to the deposit area. I dropped the items and saw I gained some points for it. I repeated the process for a little while not entirely sure what I was even really doing.
Eventually, I made the connection that a bus was dropping the materials on the ground. I hopped on the bus unsure where I was even going. After a boring ride through the nothingness of the Void, the bus stopped next to a small island. I hopped off the bus and once again stood unsure of what to do. I equipped my pickaxe and decided I may as well break something. I soon found minerals on the island that I was previously depositing back in the village. I now understood where they came from. Other people were mining the minerals and bringing them back. I began mining happily at anything I could find.
My backpack could only hold three items at a time. The process soon became tedious running the items back to the bus stop where I could deposit them onto a square that would automatically load the items onto the bus when it came by. I didn’t see a better way to do things so I kept at it. Then I saw someone else pick up the rock I just mined and carried it to the bus.
I was doing everything by myself. That’s not what good citizens do. Without a word of communication between us, I kept mining materials and my unknown comrade would deliver them to the bus stop for me. It sped the process up and I started to understand what The Tomorrow Children was really about.
Everyone was supposed to work together to one goal. It wasn’t about me achieving my goals or doing anything special. Sometimes I stood underneath a person on a high ledge as they kicked down logs to me so I could then carry the logs to the bus for them. The only rewards I received were barely noticeable, but that’s the point. Everyone is working together to make the village a success, and it’s not about you at all.
In the beginning this was all very fun and exciting. I was exploring and discovering how things worked. I enjoyed working with other players with a silent understanding of a common goal. After several hours, nothing changes. Even after successfully completing a town I was rewarded by being dropped back into a server list to start over.
That’s honestly all of The Tomorrow Children summed up. There are a few other tasks you can do, but a majority of it is resource collecting. Sometimes enemies will attack the village but it’s not as exciting as it seems. You can mount defenses to prevent the attack and keep your village safe. This is done by building the defenses using the proper resources you collect and completing a simple slide puzzle mini-game. In fact, this is how everything in the village is built.
Everything revolves around resources as you would expect, but since it’s a community run village, all the resources and equipment are up for grabs. The items you collect aren’t kept for yourself. If you drop an item and someone picks it up, it is now there’s. If you spend precious time collecting resources to build something, potentially another player can waste those same resources building something unnecessary.
Oh well, that’s the way of the world…this world at least.
It’s definitely an interesting concept and the idea of it really started to excite me. I wasn’t some hero or standout person (there are leaderboards to give some recognition to the harder working people). I was just another cog in the machine. I started finding servers with smaller villages that needed more help. I would see what they needed and dedicate my time to accomplishing those tasks. I was never thanked or probably even noticed when I spent hours collecting food for a village that had a deathly low food supply. Nor was I appreciated for spending ten minutes on a treadmill to generate energy for a village that was – once again – extremely close to having none.
You can probably see the problem already…it’s a thankless, tedious life and why in the world do you want to play that? It’s an answer I don’t have. Frankly, I grew bored of The Tomorrow Children in a matter of hours. The self-motivation for helping a village started to die pretty quickly when my only reward was being tossed in another village and told to keep working.
The real problem is everything takes forever. That could be the developer’s plan, but it doesn’t help garner excitement. Even mining an item involves pressing one button and then waiting a dozen seconds or so. In one session of mining, this all adds up to a lot of standing around time. I luckily had the Founders Pack which let me buy items off the black market that worked a lot faster than the usual tools. The problem is these items cost real money so when I ran out of the small amount I was given…the game grew even more tiresome.
I always played The Tomorrow Children while listening to a podcast, Audible book, or even watching a show. That should say it all right there. I couldn’t play this game without something else to entertain me while I was playing. Nothing excited me in the game. Even the fighting was awkward and felt like an inconvenience more than anything. Every resource I collected, building I constructed, and village successfully completed. Only led to a new village that needed more resources, buildings, collecting, labor, etc. etc. It never ended.
That’s the point I suppose, but that doesn’t work if the game feels tedious the whole time. The villages may have small aesthetics twists, but they are all practically identical. Instead of every town having its own personality, they all blurred into one. I suppose it’s possible to claim it was done on purpose to fit the feel of the atmosphere. However, I visited the same exact mining island on two separate servers which doesn’t have that excuse. The aesthetics are cool looking with doll-like girls running around, but the blurriness and undefined objectives with constant clipping pulled me out of any possible immersion. There seemed to be consistent frame-rate drop on the PS4 and moving my character could be awkward at times. Buses drove through buildings, I struggled to pick up items if I wasn’t perfectly lined up, I got caught on a tiny corner of material, and so on and so forth. Nothing felt smooth while I played.
The Tomorrow Children looks like a game in its very early stages that could be something…maybe. It’s a unique concept that really drives home the continuous work for little pay off–social commentary heavily implied of course. Then again, why does someone want to walk across a planet in No Man’s Sky? Why does someone want to build a recreation of the Hyrule Castle in Minecraft? There are definitely gamers out there who enjoy the simple and peaceful gameplay of mindless work. But The Tomorrow Children doesn’t give you the freedom to be different, and restricts you to the same monotonous tasks. A majority of people will get rather bored fairly quickly I believe, but if you’re one of those people who enjoy shaking trees collecting fruit for two hours, then congratulations comrade! You have found the place you belong as a hardworking citizen!
This review is based off a review code of the Playstation 4 version of The Tomorrow Children developed by Q-Games and distributed by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
- Interesting Marxism Concept
- Working Together Can Be Fun
- Gets Repetitive Quickly
- Completing a Village is Underwhelming
- Glaring Glitches and Overall Unpolish