The Tomorrow Children PS4 First Impressions 1

The Tomorrow Children is the type of title that you’d only ever find on PlayStation. We’re not referring to the fact that Sony’s footing the bill of this Q-Games developed curiosity – or the vaguely disingenuous PR sound bites that tend to filter out of first-party outfits from time-to-time – but the mere notion that this is wildly different to anything else on the market right now. In fact, so out of the ordinary is this PlayStation 4 exclusive that we find ourselves surrounded by scrawled pages of A4 notepaper as we type.

What is this bewildering adventure all about, then? Having spent several hours with the release’s recent alpha test, we’re still not sure that we really know – but we’re utterly intoxicated by its outlandish ideas all the same. Much like Journey, The Unfinished Swan, and Tokyo Jungle, this is a tough title to describe in a sentence or two, but it’s probably best outlined as a social experiment in which you’re a mere cog in a greater online machine. Graft is at the very centre of your endeavours – but you don’t ever have to do anything if you don’t want to.

The Tomorrow Children PS4 First Impressions 2

The majority of the action takes place in a small, Soviet-inspired stronghold populated by other players from around the globe. This isn’t an MMO, so you won’t be able to see everyone at the same time, but should someone complete an important action, then they’ll appear on your screen. The plot deals with a post-apocalyptic world in which you’ve been revived as a projection clone to venture out into the ‘Void’ – the remains of the Earth as we know it – to collect the resources required to rebuild humanity. Are you keeping up?

You’ll play as one of five classes, each prolific in a different area. The citizen, for example, is a good all-rounder, while the miner is much better at digging up resources. Regardless of who you select, each action that you perform will be acknowledged in your work log, with ration coupons awarded to those that keep themselves busy. These can then be spent on new tools, such as pickaxes for digging or chainsaws for cutting down trees. You’ll also level up as you work, which will allow you to invest points into various attributes, such as your health and strength.

The Tomorrow Children PS4 First Impressions 3

The overall aim of the game is to properly populate your town, which is achieved by mining matroshka dolls from neighbouring islands. A tour bus will take you to and from these destinations, with propaganda projected onto the screen while you make the standing room only trip. In the title’s current guise, these snippets include Cold War-esque cartoons, and even videos starring industry legend Dylan Cuthbert purchasing soda from a Japanese vending machine. The presentation is quite honestly all over the place, but it gels in a kind of incongruous way.

For example, the characters have quite an organic feel to them, as they appear to have been made out of papier-mâché or carved wood, while the world itself is very much manufactured; slick plastic surfaces reflect mechanical structures, which loom over a grainy, grey horizon. There’s a full day-night cycle here, with Izverg robots stopping by to undo all of your work periodically. Fail to setup your defences properly, and your town will be destroyed – though we don’t actually know what happens should it shatter entirely.

The Tomorrow Children PS4 First Impressions 4

What makes this social experiment really interesting, though, is that co-operation is the core tenet of the game. Let’s say, for example, that you go out and chop some trees. Any logs can be taken back to a storage bay, and you’ll be rewarded with ration coupons for your endeavour. However, someone else may decide to use that wood to craft a specific item, and you don’t necessarily have any say in what it should be. It’s the kind of design decision that will drive some people up the wall, but it makes sense in the context of the game’s blue collar concept.

This also means that you’re accountable for all of your actions. During our time with the pre-release taster, we opted to hop on board a gun turret in order take out an approaching enemy. However, we messed up a few of our shots, meaning that we not only wasted a load of ammo, but also ended up destroying the armament that we were using as well. This doesn’t sound like an enormous mistake on the surface, but the bigger picture in this situation meant that someone would have to collect the materials required to make another one, and then actually go and build it – all because we can’t aim.

The Tomorrow Children PS4 First Impressions 5

It’s this process of community crafting that we’re not so keen on at the minute, however. Creating items for the group currently requires you to complete slider puzzles, which sit right next to chocolate spread sandwiches as one of our least favourite things in the world. We’d add that the overall ambiguous nature of the experience – which, in its current guise, lacks any kind of tutorial or hand holding – also works against it, as we spent an hour or so running around like a headless chicken merely trying to figure out what we were supposed to do.

Perhaps it’s this feeling of utter abstraction that Q-Games is hoping to evoke, but we reckon that the release will need to come packaged with a little more information for its commercial launch. Right now, though, we can certainly appreciate the bizarre basis of this adventurous escapade, and look forward to observing how it evolves in the months leading up to its 2015 arrival. The Tomorrow Children is strange, fascinating, and coming so far from left-field that it’ll barely register on most peoples’ radars – but isn’t that what PlayStation does best?

Did you get a chance to check out The Tomorrow Children’s alpha, and what were your initial thoughts? Do you enjoy these out-there escapades, or do you prefer your games to be a little more straightforward? Start digging in the comments section below.