Q-Games have quietly been pumping out great games for the past ten years, mostly as part of the PixelJunk series. Games like PixelJunk Racers, Monsters and Shooter were well received and were commercial successes. So where to go from there? Dropping the PixelJunk moniker and going in to a completely new direction with The Tomorrow Children.
When The Tomorrow Children was announced two years ago, it caught my attention. I have been a PixelJunk fan for years, and the visual design was so out there and unique, I really wanted to try this game out. Everything went quiet until earlier this year when Q-Games announced something that made my heart sink; The Tomorrow Children would be a Free 2 Play game. Those few words strike fear in to the hearts of console gamers, as rarely do they result in a great game, and it seems those fears were well founded.
Price: $19.99 (Will be F2P soon)
Multiplayer: Community driven gameplay
Let me start by saying that although TTC will be a F2P game, the version we got for review was The Founders Pack edition. This version is not free, as it costs $19.99 and furnishes the player with some items that they would have to work hard to achieve in the free version of the game. The Founders Pack will only be available until the game is fully ready to be released for free, a date that has yet to be confirmed. This is a trend we have seen before with F2P games, and one that I feel takes advantage of those players who want to play the game as soon as possible.
The Tomorrow Children is first and foremost a multiplayer survival game. The world has been swallowed up by the Void, and it is the job of the Projection Clones (small wooden girls) to rebuild society, in the form of small towns. This is done by mining, building and servicing the local area, as well as defending it from giant monsters at night! All of this cannot be done alone, and as such players will be mingling with other players, all striving towards the completion of the town. Mining is important for collecting materials to build with, it is also the only way to actually complete the town as it has to be populated with little Russian dolls, which can only be found by mining. Clones will also have to maintain the town by building new work stations, defending it with turrets and keeping the lights on by using treadmills. It’s a cool take on the survival style of game, but unfortunately it’s let down by a number of problems.
First of all, this is a multiplayer only game. As such communication is key, but with only a handful of emotes available to the player, there is no way to talk with each other. And as any player can use the town’s materials to build whatever they like, where they like, planning goes out the window. As such every town you visit is a mess. There is no uniformity and it is easy to get lost looking for things like the town hall (where you can level up), the turrets and the work benches. I also got lost several times looking for the bus I needed to catch to take me to the mining area.
This leads me to another problem, the pacing of the actions in the game. Each town is surrounded by the Void, so players will need to catch a bus to take them to the mining area. Waiting for the bus can take a while, depending on how far away the mining area spawns from the town. And then there is the travel time, which can also take a few minutes. Then there is the mining itself. The equipment the game provides you with at the start of the game is of poor quality and as such mining is a slow and arduous task. It was also very repetitive due to the fact that my backpack was very limiting when it comes to storing minerals and having to travel from the mine to the bus stop every five minutes was boring. Of course, you can improve your gear, but that costs Freeman Dollars. These can be found around town in very small quantities, but if you want enough to actually buy something useful, you will need to spend real world money for the game’s fake money! It is the typical F2P model and I expected more from Q-Games.
Crafting items is also a pain. Unlike most survival games, which just require you to have the correct amount of materials, TCC also wants you to queue to use the workbenches and then complete a minigame to craft the item. The minigame is a sliding tile puzzle which gets more difficult the more complex the item is you want to craft. You only get a short period of time to complete it as well. Fail, and you get kicked from the workbench and have to queue to try again. But don’t fear, you can use Freeman Dollars if you want to cut out the puzzle part!! Another nasty little F2P mechanic.
Once a town has been populated with enough citizens, the game ends and you get to travel to a new town and repeat the process once again. This whole process just ends up being boring, and will probably be the main reason people will pick this up for free and then just leave it by the side of the road when a better game comes along. This will result in a drop in players after the game launches and end up with empty servers.
The Tomorrow Children gave me no real incentive to continue playing it. With no end game and very slow mechanics due to the game’s reliance on microtransactions it feels like nothing more than a cash grab. It saddens me that a game that seemed to have such great promise a few years ago has ended up being more suited to an iPhone than a PS4. I can only wonder how different the game would have been had it not been F2P.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.