The Tomorrow Children is not a game easily explained at a glance, but that’s what makes it as interesting as it is frustrating.
The Tomorrow Children is created by Q-games and published by Sony’s Japan Studio. You play as a projection clone in a dead world, and you must work together to help restore humanity from the brink of extinction. As you begin to play the game, you will instantly get a feel for the community aspect the title is aiming for, even if the more complex parts remain a mystery at this point.
You start the game by loading into the Void; the general game area which has a very offbeat toytown visual style to it, right down to the doll-esque characters. Outside that, the vast swathes of stark, blank white nothingness that makes up the majority of the game world serve to visualise the thematic message of the story. In the starting area however, there are just monitors which teach you the basics you need to play the game. The tutorial has been improved a lot since the previous builds of the game, and help with a fair amount of the confusion a lot of players might of had with the basic fundamentals in the beta. Once you have completed the tutorial and learnt how to gather resources, it is time to use the train and go to your first public town. Each town is its own instance, with the ability to switch towns anytime you want or if the town you were part of was destroyed while you were logged off. The towns are filled with other real player along with npc’s. Right now the only way to play the game is to purchase the founder’s pack, which gives several bonuses including some of the real life currency (Freeman Dollars; no relation).
The Void is ever-changing, and you can use the routine bus (that is unrealistically always on schedule) to access islands that appear in the Void. These islands are used to find materials such as food, gold, metal and other resources. You can only carry a certain amount of the resources at any one time, so it can be nice (and a bit necessary) to toss the excess resources towards the bus station, or to a local point so that your fellow players can help you out by carrying it to the loading point for the bus. You will still get xp for mining it and be rewarded at the ministry of work and diligence. You can also find Matryoshka Dolls on these island.
This is one of the most important resources so you need to be especially mindful of them, the dolls can break from a large height. You take them back to your town, and this will then transform them into a A.I citizen that will walk around and live inside your personal town. If you have saplings, then they will start to water them and help them grow. Resources are used to craft buildings, and other things such as propaganda signs or even the saplings. After you have gathered your materials and placed them in the correct locations in the town, I would recommend to every so often to visit the ministry of work and diligence. The game will then tally up any bonuses you have earnt from your actions in the world and give you rations. As you complete actions you gain xp, this gives you Bourgeoisie points, which can be placed in one of 6 stats, these can increase how fast you mine or how many resources you can carry. I still think the strength stat reward needs to be decreased as +10 points for 1 extra resource slot seems a bit excessive considering how hard it can get to level up past 15.
When you are in the town, there are several guards walking around. You can talk to them to get quests, such as gather apples for vodka or mine iron for the town. You will get Vodka medals for completing these quests, allowing you to buy perks from a Vodka machine. These take time but give some good perks, including allowing you to mine faster, or get more praise from other players.
The crafting system in The Tomorrow Children is somewhat simple, yet also a tad complex. If you ever did those wooden numbered sliding puzzles as a kid, you will know what I mean. You have to match the pattern shown by sliding the numbers or symbols around. Once it has been created, you pick up the item you made, and if your town has enough space, just look around for a place to put it down and construct it. You can use this to create shops, these shops use ration tokens, and if you have the license for it, you will be able to buy upgraded tools for your character to help gather things much faster.
These types of equipment are called ‘comrade brand’ – they have slightly more durability than the standard equipment if costly (though if you are short on rations, the basic tools are decent enough to get the job done). Once you have purchased your first tool, you will get a call from a mysterious stranger, allowing you to access the black market in which you use your freeman dollars and access even better equipment. I would recommend getting the pickaxe, shovel and chainsaw, as this will allow you to stockpile some rations until you need them, plus these items mine rocks or cut down tree’s twice as fast as the even the comrade items, making them the best equipment that I have found so far.
You can also use your freeman dollars to purchase other items, though I didn’t find these as fun to use, as they have very limited use compared to the other, more useful equipment. So unless you willing to throw down money in the game, then economy wise it’s best just to focus on the main stuff. You can buy outfits for example, but I find there stats are worse than the ones in the founder’s pack, they do give multiple stat bonuses but they only give +1, and the founder’s pack items give +2 though only for a specific stat. You will also find freeman dollars on the floor every so often, it is quite common and this means you don’t really have to spend any money at all to progress in this game if you don’t want too. If you do I would say to purchase the vehicle license for 500 freeman dollars, as this will allow you to zip around in cars.
But the Void isn’t just a largely empty place to mine and spend your time crafting your fancy cars and buildings. There is also the Izverg; an enemy force that will attack your town randomly, though I wish there were more types of these enemies, you have the weird flying pig bug thing, the giant spiders and Godzilla-esque monsters that use spirit bombs. If you have a weapons license, you can use shotguns or rocket launchers to try and take down the smaller enemies, but for gargantuan beasts and flying enemies, it’s best to use cannons (that can be crafted), though don’t waste all the ammo as that too has to be crafted. When the normal enemies die they can become resources and when the behemoths die, they become crystallized statues that can be mined for rare materials. During your exploits in the islands, you can also find monster spawners, these can be destroyed and then mined for resources.
In the end, The Tomorrow Children is aimed at a very particular audience, and while it know’s this very well, it does try its best to make everyone feel welcome. The game is currently only for people who purchase the founder’s pack, which gives loads of amazing bonuses to help any future citizen, or if you know a friend who has purchased it, and eventually they will be able to use one of five invite codes to bring you into the game. Though if you use one of these codes, you will not get any of the extra content he received in the founder’s pack. The game is also planned to go completely free to play in the next few months, but no date has been officially announced at the time of this review.
The Tomorrow Children is an odd beast then, full of quirky imagery and profoundly daft moments inspired by a sense of community, but it’s not all that welcoming, which is a problem for a community-based game. Time will tell if The Tomorrow Children can gain enough of a following to make it work.