The Tomorrow Children: A Freemium Boredom Simulator

The Tomorrow Children: A Freemium Boredom Simulator

The Tomorrow Children is a collaborative resource gathering game developed by Q-Games set in a place called the Void, a near-featureless barren expanse that looks sort of like the boot-up area of the Matrix. Basically a group of Russian scientists have had one of their experiments go horribly wrong resulting in the obliteration of the world as we know it, with humanity now hanging by a thread as they try and eke out an existence in The Void. This is done by gathering resources to build and bolster small townships dotted throughout the endless expanses. It features a rather cool and creepy aesthetic where the characters all appear to have been carved out of wood, and the Soviet Russia dystopian vibe is strong. Like any good communist, your job is to toil alongside your comrades for the betterment of humanity, by farming resources like food, wood and metal to power and feed your town and build bigger and better structures.

metaphor

Metaphor!

In terms of look and feel, The Tomorrow Children is brilliant. The sterile yet colourful visuals are consistently stunning, but unfortunately a game is not something that has to just pretty to look at, it also has to be played. In the gameplay department The Tomorrow Children fails to reach anything approaching cohesive or interesting, and a brief scratching of the surface reveals this game as the ugly beast it is: a tedious grindfest riddled with aggressive microtransactions.

I was lucky enough to score a free basic copy of The Tomorrow Children from a random person on the Internet, and not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I booted up the game. While it’s in Early Access on PS4 at the moment, eventually it will be a free-to-play release, so my experience is probably close to what The Tomorrow Children will ultimately resemble.  You begin as a lowly Proletariat, where you have access to only the most basic tools, and cannot build structures. To rise to the rank of Bourgeoisie and enjoy the associated privileges you need to gain Toil (awarded for completing the multitude of menial tasks required around town and on nearby islands). Slowly you will rank up and theoretically once enough Toil is done you will be bequeathed with a new social rank which allows you to do more interesting things. I got to Level 11 after six or so hours of shaking trees, running on treadmills to generate power and picking up different coloured rocks and depositing them in their appropriate repositories… but alas I was still a Proletariat.

planking-is-so-2009

Planking is so 2010

town-life

All work and no play

As my eyes glazed over and a thin line of drool flowed freely from one corner of my mouth, I persisted with these tasks until the mind-numbing boredom became too much to bear. A local police officer informed me that I could buy Bourgeoisie Papers and skip all this scrounging in the dirt for the bargain price of 500 Free-man dollars. Checking my wallet I realised I was a bit skint with only $76 (very small amounts of money can be randomly found around the Void), so where the hell was I going to find that amount of scratch? The answer of course was the PlayStation Store. Free-man dollars are required to do most things that are even remotely interesting in this title, like accessing better tools for mining resources, buying licenses for firearms to kill the monsters of the Void or gaining the ability to drive so you don’t have to endure taking the infuriatingly glitchy bus to work (this is a thing). You’d be an absolute madman to even dream of doing any of these things without paying real money. Freemium game design works fine in simplistic mobile games where the moment-to-moment gameplay can be engaging enough that you feel like you don’t have to pay if you don’t want to. The Tomorrow Children is the worst kind of freemium pay-to-play game, it has crafted a gameplay loop so boring that you are more or less forced to fork out some real dollars to actually enjoy yourself.

on-the-bus

Riding the bus: As thrilling as in real life

the-adventure-begins

The adventure begins!

I ended up buying those Bourgeoisie papers with real money, but despite the ability to access more city-building options, the tedious grind of collecting resources is still the ugly heart of this title and I realised that the only way to win the game was to not play at all. If you want to play this game (and I seriously recommend you avoid it at all costs), do yourself a favour and purchase the Founders Pack. This will give you some basic licenses and some cash to play with, but I guarantee that once that cash is gone (or even before) you will have found an experience that is about as fun as a back-alley vasectomy and as empty as the Void in which is set.

Kieran is a consummate troll and outspoken detractor of the Uncharted series. He once fought a bear in the Alaskan wilderness while on a spirit quest and has a PhD in organic synthetic chemistry XBL: Shadow0fTheDog PSN: H8_Kill_Destroy

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