The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition is aptly named, rising from the ashes of the original, short-lived version. While largely the same game you remember from 2016, this iteration ditches the free-to-play structure, introduces new features, and refreshes the experience in various other ways. Whether those changes are enough to make the game shine in 2022 is another question.
Check out our review of the original Tomorrow Children for more detail, but here are the cliff notes: collaborating with other players online, your job is to venture into the Void to rescue what remains of humanity by finding matryoshka dolls, reviving them in your town, and rebuilding society with any resources you gather. While the game had great presentation and the co-op nature of the gameplay was interesting, it ultimately felt too slow, rigid, and obtuse. Frankly, this is all true for Phoenix Edition as well, though efforts to smooth things out do make it easier to recommend than before.
Improved on-boarding means you'll grasp the basics better, new tools like the grappling hook and special Void powers make exploring the islands a little easier, and progress generally moves a little faster. Monoliths on certain islands will expand the area if touched by enough players, providing even more resources to discover. Playing in backwards compatibility on PS5, it looks good and runs perfectly at 60 frames-per-second. Perhaps the best part is peer-to-peer online play and even an offline mode, negating any threat of another server shutdown.
Unfortunately, the game's issues run a bit deeper. Like the 2016 version, the gameplay is stiff, slow, and rather dull, and sometimes it's unclear precisely how to proceed. Inventory space is a near constant headache. Building up your town is hard work, which is probably intentional but isn't very fun — especially when giant monsters unceremoniously wander over and destroy your buildings. Fighting back can feel futile and isn't particularly satisfying, either. It's tough, because there's great potential in its collaborative, common goal nature, and Phoenix Edition really does make many improvements to the overall experience, but its cold, repetitive core holds it back.