Overall score 78

When I heard about Birthdays the Beginning, I didn’t really know much of what to expect. To be honest, I hardly play much games in the god game genre. So going into Birthdays the Beginning without much knowledge of its genre or the game itself was kind of exciting to go through. Perhaps this perspective of not knowing anything helped in my overall enjoyment. I did hit some rough spots with the game still, but I was kind of surprised at how much of a good time I had.

Birthdays the Beginning is a game that revolves around the evolution of life. You take the role of an avatar that you control and are put in charge of this lifeless world. It is your duty to give life to this world, starting from nothing and creating it into something. You do this by manipulating the landscape of the world, elevating flat lands into mountains or lowering them to create oceans and seas. Doing so will not only change the ratio of land to water, but also change the temperature of the world. Once certain conditions are met in temperature and environment, new life will be born.

THE GOOD: I had some worries that the game would eventually reach a point where it might get confusing, but I was actually surprised at how well it presents itself and the rules of its world. You don’t have control of any of the lifeforms that come to life and can’t move them anywhere. You can only alter the land by raising or lowering it. I admit it did take a short while for me to fully understand how it all worked, but once it clicked, it was pretty satisfying seeing all the different kinds of life being summoned by all the changes you did to the world. So I was quite pleased at how well it eased this newbie into its mechanics.

Once you understand how things work, the game got better from there. You learn what it is that you are trying to accomplish, and that is going through the many periods of life that have lead to where we are now. Beginning from microorganisms in the oceans, to the rise and fall of dinosaurs, and eventually the birth of humans. The journey itself was fun to go through and seeing just how connected everything were to each other was neat. Some thought surely went through with how everything progresses and it was a joy to go through those steps. One such example is trying to give birth to Tyrannosaurus rex. Temperature and land not only need to be right, but certain species need to also be present, cause the T-rex won’t proper if it doesn’t have other creatures to feed off of. Going through all that problem solving on how to get the conditions right and then seeing the thing you wanted to create suddenly show up in your world, felt pretty good to do. So reaching the end goal of the game was very satisfying to me.

Aside from the main story mode, there are other modes available in the form of Challenges and Free Mode. Challenges will throw you into pre-generated worlds and task you with an objective in order to complete the challenge. For example, trying to re-birth an extinct species with the current land layout given to you. Some challenges will even throw special conditions at you like temperatures will fluctuate more than normal from any land changes, or even giving you the inability to alter certain parts of the world. They’re certainly a challenge, but serve as a nice test on how well you know the mechanics of the game. In Free Mode, it’s not much different from story mode, but you’re free to do whatever you want without the game guiding you through it all. You can even start from a bigger piece of land to work with. It’s a good way to replay through the game and seeing how different things can turn out.

Usually when I play a game, I complete the main mode first before moving on to other things. This time around though, I actually encourage others to check out the other modes while they play the main mode. Going through some challenges and then back to the main mode helped me better understand the game. Also, seeing those pre-generated worlds gave me some inspirations on how I shaped my world in certain parts.

THE BAD: Even though I did praise how well Birthdays the Beginning eases players into how their world works, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a smooth ride throughout. I did run into some road blocks where I thought I met the right conditions for a species to appear, but they never appeared. There are places you can view, like the species list, that do offer help in guessing what you might be missing, but things you haven’t given birthed to yet are nameless. So a little guesswork is sometimes involved, and I just felt the game could’ve gone about that stuff a better way in order to prevent those moments where you’re just stuck for a good while. There are various items too that can basically force game progression, and I did have to resort to that, even though I felt a little bummed about needing to do so.

The controls also take some getting used to. It’s a minor thing, but they’re a bit too floaty that it became a bit difficult to get really precise with your movements. I’ve had many moments of needing to undo certain things I did because the character moved more than I what I wanted. Eventually I got used to it, but it would have been nice to have some extra precision when choosing what areas it is that you want to alter.

My last issue has to do with the game’s length. Completing the story mode of the game didn’t take me too long. Managed to complete it in about seven hours, and that was with only using one of those forces progression items. If I relied on items more, perhaps it could’ve gone by faster. Granted, it was a second save after I chose to redo my world, so I was moving through the early portions much quicker. Even with that, I would say I spent close to ten hours overall with game. The challenges are tough and I still have many left to do, and it was kind of neat to explore a new world without any guides in the Free Mode. Though, I wasn’t feeling that motivated to keep going once I completed the story. I do have that desire to revisit though, mainly because there are still many species that I haven’t discovered and I noticed there are some very unique creatures that can be birthed. So those wanting to complete everything will certainly find much to do well after the story’s completion. I just wish the journey of the story lasted a bit longer than it was.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Going in blind probably helped with my overall enjoyment with Birthdays the Beginning. I do lack experience with this particular type of game, but I was able to get into it fairly easy. Going through the story and seeing the evolution of various organisms was fun and satisfying to do. I just wished it lasted a bit longer cause I was really into it. It’s a nice game to relax and get settled into, since you can just sit back and watch your world come to life. There were a couple rough spots, but I had a great experience throughout. Seeing the birth of the T-rex was a very satisfying moment and I’ve had several others after that. I encourage others who are interested to at least check out the demo. Definitely one of the more unique games I’ve played this year.

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