Birthdays the Beginning

The designer behind Harvest Moon returns with a game that frustrates as much as it fascinates.

Birthdays the Beginning review

Birthdays the Beginning's premise has a childlike simplicity: take a snowglobe world and fill it with life. No wonder: creator Yasuhiro Wada had the idea for the game as a child, after watching an episode of the cartoon Doraemon, which featured a tool to create a miniature planet, a mini-Earth that, once raised, could sit on a shelf in your bedroom while its ecosystem ticked away. Wada is best known for the series Harvest Moon, but while both games are bucolic enterprises exploring the stewardship of life, there is a vast difference in scale. In Harvest Moon you're a tinkering farmer; in Birthdays you're a sweeping divinity. Harvest Moon moves in seasons, Birthdays in millennia.

There's the whisper of a framing story, but this is a game in which the cogs and mechanisms of the ecosystem take centre stage. Your world, a kind of biodome encased in a cube of glass, is born small and flat. Your interactions are astoundingly limited: you can only raise or lower the land, which is divided into Minecraft-esque blocks. In this way, you have the power to build mounds, hills and mountains, or to dig puddles, lakes and seas. Life comes to the world first as a single cell plankton. When the right conditions are met, phytoplankton evolves into zooplantkton, and lo, the first link in the food chain is established. With time and careful tending, this fundamental principle is used to slowly and beguilingly fill your world with algae, ferns, trees, fish, spiders and, eventually, dinosaurs.

Evolution happens when the right conditions of temperature, moisture and terrain are met. The more water you swill into your cube-world, the higher the air temperature. The more dry land you raise, the lower the temperature. In this way you use erosion to fine-tune the environment in order to see your world flourish. Certain species of plant and wildlife will only evolve at certain temperatures, so the majority of your time is spent pruning the land, snipping off chunks of hill in order to trigger the emergence of some dinosaur, before filling in lakes and seas in order to lure another type, which will perhaps hunt the first creature. Evolutions will happen naturally, when the correct conditions are met, but it's also possible to hurry them along with dropped items, although doing so will usually lower your 'score' for the chapter.

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In 2013 scientists discovered an all new mammal: the olinguito. Looking like a cross between a raccoon, ferret and sloth, the newly identified creature is an incredible novelty. Birthdays the Beginning, the upcoming god game from Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada, seeks to capture the olinguito's discreet charm by offering a dynamic diorama capable of birthing an entire ecosystem of flora and fauna. It aims to be something completely new.

Birthdays the Beginning confirmed for Europe

Birthdays the Beginning confirmed for Europe

From the creator of Harvest Moon.

Birthdays the Beginning, the new game from the creator of Harvest Moon, is coming to Europe.

NIS America announced that Birthdays the Beginning, from Yasuhiro Wada, launches in Europe and North America early 2017 for PlayStation 4 and PC via Steam. Expect a physical and a download release.

Birthdays the Beginning is described as a sandbox game in which players create cube-shaped worlds that birth lifeforms. The idea is you shape the geography and alter the temperature of each world to create the conditions for life, then witness the birth of an entire ecosystem.

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