Birthdays The Beginning PlayStation 4 Review

Developed by TOYBOX Inc., a company founded by Yasuhiro Wada and Arc Systems Works comes Birthdays:

The Beginnings (Birthdays). Published for the western audience by NIS studios, Birthdays is affectionately known as a garden simulator for a good reason but I’d prefer to hail it as a “god sim”. You the player are the creator and destroyer of your very own eco system, Birthdays empowers you with all the necessary abilities to see a species born, blossom or become extinct as you so desire.

Gameplay:

The game is not delivered in a manner that will cause intense amounts of stress or heart pounding excitement but in a more calm and methodical package. You take control of your Minecraft-esque eco-cube and apply different ecological variables simply by dropping or raising the terrain. Isaac Newton’s third rule of physics is heavily applied throughout your progress in this game and it states, “For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction.” Taking this into consideration and after quite the explanatory tutorial, the real quest of trial and error begins.

There are many successes and seemingly failures in Birthdays that can’t be calculated or foreseen and this is one of the aspects that is unique with this title. It is hard to imagine by initially implementing slight changes in your physical environment that it will have such drastic changes, resulting in some spontaneous cause and effect. What also must be taken in to consideration when discussing this title is the simplicity of pick up and play factor it boasts.

The ability to take control of and nurture your own world and see it begin as a baron wasteland to a fully-fledged hive of evolving life is honestly a first for me. I really want to point out also, if a game of this magnitude wasn’t accessible or had overly glaring issues the sheer concept would be overwhelming and off putting, so it is with great pleasure that I report the exact opposite.

To put it more plainly, interaction with your world is done by flying around a time frozen cube, raising and lowering segments of land to form mountains and oceans. These seemingly small changes have a massive flow-on effect: lowering land below sea level creates oceans and increases the temperature, while creating mountains and ranges makes the world an overall cooler place. This all culminates in the birth of new and dependant lifeforms and beginning the food chain of life.

Graphics:

Packaged in a colourful and a bright palette, Birthdays is not going to test out any graphics cards in today’s environment but this of course is not the titles main selling point. In reporting the last point, I by no means intend on knocking it but a sincere opinion on what is not a very telling aspect of the title.

All the graphics are delivered in a very simplistic manner and this tends to aid in the distinction of different species and variations. Considering the focus of this game is primarily gameplay mechanic based it is hard to report any further on the fidelity of the graphics, one thing I can say is that the lack of any fluid complex movement framerates and resolutions are never key point of focus so it never under delivers but in the same breath never blows you away.

Sound:

This may be one of the more overlooked aspects of the game due its repetitive nature and lack of variety the BGM quickly got turned off. This is not to say it is 100% a negative aspect, more to the point of not my cup of tea. All the interactions that require “talking” is done in subtitles so this eliminates the need of voice actors and aided with quite an in-depth tutorial process because you must acknowledge you had read each sentence by clicking to continue.

There was the addition of a few subtle audio ques but once again nothing major or in the moment, more of a consequence to what was going on and other than informing the player of a certain change they never really had an overwhelming effect. The audio presentation obviously was not a focal point in the development process of this title but nor does it have much of a place in a genre such as this, so in saying this I believe it played its part as a side act very efficiently.

Value and Conclusion

With the physical release having a price tag of $59.95 AUS the game shifts in to quite an uncomfortable position of being solely a niche title, it is too expensive to take a risk on in my opinion. Hopefully with reviews and research people may be a little more swayed to parting with a sizeable amount of money to experience this gem. I can see the value due to my accessibility to the game with very low risk but being such a unique experience, it is hard to recommend and it is hard to not recommend, it is cases like this where honesty is the best policy. This is the most unique gaming mechanic in this generation hands down but also a game that is delivered to you at such a slow pace that the said mechanic must have such an intrinsic effect on you that you feel the need to return for hours upon hours of gameplay.

It is difficult sitting here giving you all these glowingly positive points but still insisting it may not be for you, I just must insist you do your research first to make sure it is for you. I do not for one second regret playing this, admittedly I was confused but quickly become impressed with what was being delivered once I got used to the mechanics. I acknowledge that throughout this review I have used the word simply and its variants but this is a compliment, so many titles out there over promising and under achieving it’s refreshing to see a game deliver on its promises and not require over indulgent bells and whistles to do so.

710

Pros:

  • Delivers on its promises.
  • Offers players complete freedom
  • A unique sandbox title
  • Relatively small download

Cons:

  • Hard to recommend
  • Trial and error can lead to frustration
  • A lacklustre attempt at a narrative.

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