The Tomorrow Children Preview
I know why you clicked on the headline. You're wondering, "what exactly is this game?" I had the very same question, which is why I wanted to do more research on this PlayStation 4 exclusive in development at Q-Games. As it turns out, The Tomorrow Children appears to be a unique, extraordinary mix of genres, set within a decidedly creepy - yet thoroughly mesmerizing - Soviet-like environment in an alternate 1960's reality. There are distinct elements of multiplayer and social gaming in this post-apocalyptic landscape and players will have to work together to survive and flourish. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the production is the singular atmosphere and precisely how we go about navigating its many dangers.
The entire world seems encased in a bizarre white shell of sorts; this is simply called the "Void" and just about everything, including humanity, has already been lost to it. The problem is that massive monsters called Izverg patrol the Void, so humans are in a constant battle with these creatures...which is symbolic because these monsters are actually manifestations of mankind's deepest fears. Yes, there's a definite philosophical bent to this one. The humans that have survived have created strange avatars, or projection clones, to protect themselves as they traverse the Void. These clones are in the shape of children (again, for a very philosophical reason) and they attempt to find islands created by man's hopes and dreams, which can be mined for precious resources.
It's also a rescue mission of sorts because adventurers will happen across Matryoshkas, dolls that contain the essences of lost souls. If you can snag these and return them to safety, advanced technology can return the Matryoshkas back into living beings. To encompass this extremely odd world, the developers are going out on a limb with the graphical production: They're utilizing what is called Cascaded Voxel Cone Ray-Tracing to build a game that reminds one of handmade stop-motion animation. So, when you're playing, it almost feels as if you're inside an old-fashioned cartoon (ala Gumby, only without the stretchiness), and you should appreciate the gorgeous design, highlighted by beautiful character design and wonderfully imaginative scenery. It's very Tim Burton-esque, I think.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward, as your clone can run, jump, and work to harvest those precious materials. You'll also have to pay attention to your surroundings, as the darkness can be mortally dangerous; your clone actually starts to disintegrate if it wanders too long in the dark. The idea is to make enough trips into the Void and gather enough resources so your town grows and expands. Saving those Matryoshkas will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal, too. In this way, it has a Sim City vibe in its approach to growth and success; only here, you actually need to get down and dirty when getting your resources. You'll use a pickaxe to mine what you need, and you'll locate various veins of ore and other minerals. But of course, the more you dig and the deeper you go, the darker it gets, so...
You won't be the only one out there, obviously, and more clones working in the Void means more opportunities for resources. You can interact with other clones via simple gestures, and you can even sacrifice a bit of your own health to heal them if they're in trouble. The Izverg will be a constant terror and yeah, they're kinda like Godzillas that can cause a tremendous amount of damage in a short span of time. This is where you put aside your pickaxe and take up a rocket launcher or other weapon to fend them off. If you and your fellow clones can manage to bring down an Izverg, it will become a crystallized corpse and as such, an exceedingly valuable mining resource. The bigger the danger, the bigger the payoff. You might even locate some handy-dandy new tools and other machinery as you dig and mine, which can the be used to your advantage in town.
As you progress, you'll receive points that can be used for attribute upgrades, and you'll also earn coupons that can be spent on better tools. Your basic tools have a lifespan, as you might expect, and besides, the rampaging Izverg will demand better and better weaponry. Just never forget that this is a collective effort: Your Ministry assessments are critical, so you'll always have to concern yourself with the greater good. The community's welfare depends on everyone working together, so you have to keep that in mind when you set out. In the end, The Tomorrow Children is a hugely ambitious and original title that blends strategy, Minecraft-like gameplay, action/adventure and role-playing elements into a really appealing package. Look for it to arrive on PS4 later this year.
3/10/2016 Ben Dutka