It’s been a long time since a god simulator or something along that line has caught my attention. As a fan of the original Black and White, my interest was piqued when I first saw the amount of enthusiasm Yasuhiro Wada, the mind behind Birthdays the Beginning exuded while talking about the game. While Birthdays the Beginning is more catered around bringing a planet to life through evolution and mutations, it still pinched that craving I’ve been looking for in a sandbox simulator.
In Birthdays the Beginning you’ll be bringing life to a desolate cube planet, with the help of a mystical being that pushes you in the right direction. With the ability to morph and change the shape of terrain and oceans. After a short introduction and a few tutorials on the essentials of beginning life on your planet, you’re dropped into the management of bringing certain lifeforms into existence.
Gameplay consists of two different modes for managing you terrain, micro and macro mode. Micro mode allows you fly around your planet and morph terrain to fulfill conditions to birth new organisms. Morphing terrain can be quite the hassle with some clunky controls since movement is on a grid system. You get various new items that help you shape your world, such as rain clouds or sunlight that adjust the humidity of land, which will help you bring to life or maintain organisms that require certain living conditions to be born.
This is probably one of the most nerve-racking portions of the game, since you have a life map on the top right that shows how many organisms are alive and how their doing as time moves on. Sometimes a vital organism you need will go extinct and the reasoning behind their extinction can be hard to narrow down. I had a lot of trouble in the beginning, attempting to shape the necessary living conditions for the early dinosaurs took a lot of patience and luck, but eventually the system starts to make sense.
Macro mode on the other hand has your avatar fly out into the distance from your planet in order to manage time. Birthdays features an HP system that refills when you let time pass, but gets drained the more terrain you morph. You also have the ability to fast forward the timescale in order to speed up evolution on your planet, this in turn also consumes HP, but slowing down the scale will refill your meter indefinitely.
When you give birth to new organisms, you’ll be able to “capture” them in order to level up your avatar. Capturing isn’t like Pokemon or anything like that, but essentially adds their data to your library so you can keep up with living conditions and needs. When you level up your character, you’ll gain the ability to use new items, change the landscape in different ways and gain more stamina so you’ll be less inclined to visit macro mode when you need to recharge stamina.
I played Birthdays on PC and suffice to say the port isn’t of the highest caliber. There are no graphical settings to speak of and all you’ll get to adjust in terms of configurations is the games resolution which only goes up to 1080p. Since I play on a 1440p monitor, the game wasn’t as crisp as it could have or should have looked, so if you’re someone who games on a higher-end monitor this is something you might want to consider before you decide to purchase.
Another issue I have with the port is the fact that there isn’t a dedicated quit game button which is something that seems to happen too frequently with Japanese games being ported to PC. This is a minor gripe of course, since you can always Alt F4 and close the game that way, but it’s an inconvenience I can’t image takes much effort on the developers end. Finally, the biggest nail in the coffin in terms of the port would have to be that the game sets itself to windowed mode every time you launch it, meaning you need to into the settings tab and set it to fullscreen every time you want to play.
While the game doesn’t innovate in the visual department, what we do get is a game filled with color and vibrance once your biome gets off the ground. The game does feature some exposition as to what’s going on in the in-game universe and how you got there and these scenes are told in visual novel segments. While the game doesn’t feature a grand musical score, what you do get are a pretty great menu song and some spacey sounding biome music. Aside from that, there really isn’t much to say about the game in terms of visuals and sound, but that’s not where this game is trying to hook you.
If you’ve been craving a sandbox god simulator for a while, I’d say the rough edges are worth looking over. With hints that subsequent games will expand upon a lot of the unique details that make Birthdays the Beginning stand out from similar games of the past, I believe Birthdays hits a target audience that hasn’t exactly been catered to in a while and although certain aspects of the game could have used the extra polish, I believe Mr. Wada has found his next big hit with the Birthdays series.
Note: This review was based on a PC digital copy provided by the publisher.