Initial Release: 12th May 2017
When a child finds a map tucked into a book in their grandfather’s library, they had no idea a strange new adventure would await them. Upon following the map to a cave, they found a large stone cube with a smaller cube floating next to it. The small cube began to speak, and begged for the child’s help, and so the Seed of Life was sown, and the world will never be the same again.
“And with that, the strangest incident of my life had begun.”
Birthdays: The Beginning is an absolutely adorable simulation game developed by TOYBOX inc. and ARC SYSTEM WORKS Co, Ltd, follows the evolution of a cube-shaped environment from the very first Protozoa right through to Modern Humans – with the help of your Avatar.
After you wake up in a cave with a small blue cube, that introduces itself as Navi, it asks for your help to create life inside a large cube. This is where the game begins. Once the nightmarish flashbacks of another blue, glowing, flying assistant have stopped, Navi walks you through the basic functions of the cube that will allow you to create the optimal environment for evolution. You’re given a Seed of Life, which produces Phytoplankton; the very first organism needed for evolution. From here it’s up to you to make sure that you use the skills and items at your disposal in order to prevent every organism from going extinct and, essentially, destroying the world.
The main story of Beginning is split into four chapters, which coincide with four different sized cube environments for you to populate. At the end of each chapter your character is told they can now leave – only for them to discover that the world outside the cave is no longer the world they left, and the only option is for them to continue their work with Navi to try and return the world to its former state. Each chapter has a star rating out of five, which gives players the opportunity to decide if they want to go for the fastest, easiest route to completion, or if they want to evolve and capture every single organism in the cube. If you go for only the fastest route you can probably complete the Story Mode in around 8 hours or less, so this game is a nice quick break from the hundreds of hours you’re putting into Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood.
Once evolution begins, it is the player’s responsibility not only to produce the lifeforms, but to also capture their information for their Library. The little fanfare when a new lifeform is born into the cube will fill you with excitement! Despite not being advertised as an ‘edutainment‘ game, you will definitely find yourself learning a lot about evolution and the flora and fauna that make up our history. The cube’s environment is primarily controlled via the height of the land, so raising land to create hills and mountains will lower the cube’s temperature, while lowering the land to create seas and oceans will raise the cube’s temperature. You will also find a lot of items as you progress through the game, which will allow you to change terrain, add rivers, create global warming or cooling, or even force a specific organism to evolve or mutate, all to help you reach your goals.
In addition to the Story Mode, B:TB has a Challenge Mode, where you are given a specific terrain and some restrictions, and you have to evolve a certain dinosaur within those boundaries. There is also a Free Mode, where you can select the size of your cube and just play for as long as you like to fill up your Library!
The end credits of the game are actually worth watching, as it shows you the evolution of your cube from start to finish, which can be especially fun if you have built lots of strange looking terrains all in the name of evolving a certain species! On that note, it’s worth knowing that since the majority of the environment controls are based on land height it is rarely worth trying to make your cube look nice in Story Mode. You are very likely to need to drop that beautiful mountain with the rivers all over it in the next ten minutes, and those deep oceans and lakes will be levelled out before long. It is, however, good fun to take the time to create your optimal beauty environment in Free Mode and then see how it plays out!
Even if you’re not usually a fan of simulation games it is definitely worth taking a look at Birthdays: The Beginning. The art style is gorgeous and it’s a truly captivating play from start to finish. You will definitely want to replay over and over to get all the organisms and all the achievements, and it’s a perfect choice if you’re looking to play something relaxing.