Birthdays the Beginning gives you the chance to create life from the comfort of your PlayStation 4 console. While the reality of this isn’t as simple as the game makes it, you go through the process and hardships of micromanaging and nurturing a small world with the potential to spark life. While it sounds very cool to create your own dinosaurs and animal species within a controlled environment, the journey getting to such great moments isn’t as fun as you may have hoped. Creating life in Birthdays the Beginning is a much more tedious job then what it’s made out to be.
The visuals in Birthdays the Beginning are whimsical and lighthearted with its bright color palette and almost chibi-like character design. Every organism you nurture within the game’s different scenarios looks like a caricature of what it’s supposed to represent, which often comes off as more cutesy rather than terrifying. This isn’t a bad thing, but how can you honestly appreciate the ferocity of a Tyrannosaurus Rex when it has such an innocent pair of eyes while trampling around? It just looks so cute as the king of the dinosaurs.
Getting to this point is unfortunately a huge chore. It can take a long time from when you start laying the foundation of your world to sprout life and have it evolve into something unique. You can speed up time and have things progress at a faster rate, but then there’s all of the variables you need to monitor in order for the life on your world to flourish. You can catalogue each life-form you grow, which helps boost your abilities to create even more things for your world.
The game has a number of scenarios that guide you through the basics of how to play, allowing you to try out different items and ways to reshaping the environment as needed. There’s even a small story that plays in-between each scenario and hints at various metaphors about the creation of life, including some extra-terrestrial influence on how life began. It’s nothing too deep, but will likely not grab your attention as much since there’s more important things to focus on as you play.
Most of the time you’ll end up waiting a while for things to progress with your world in order to move on to a new task within each scenario. This is usually the case when a specific life form needs to grow in numbers or the environment has to reach a certain temperature before you can do anything else. It ends up feeling boring in most cases, especially when something has the opposite effect of what you need. Variables like species type and terrain layout are important to making different life appear, which can be influenced even more by items you gather to change conditions of the world itself. It takes a while to figure out the best course of action to evolve a species or nurture something specific you need.
If you want a sand-box style approach to the game, there is a Free Mode where you can start everything from scratch or import what you’ve done in other modes. This is when the game is at its purest form and allows you to just go crazy with what you can do without any objectives or goals. What you make and where you go with it is entirely up to you. There’s also a Challenge Mode where you have specific goals to reach within certain stipulations. These can be difficult depending on how you play since you are given some limitations to complete a challenge, such as not using any items or not lifting the terrain beyond a certain level. It’s a nice addition, but ultimately won’t hold the majority of your attention away from the main game.
Birthdays the Beginning is a game for those who enjoy seeing things come together after a lot of effort and meticulous planning. It takes a while to get to the point where you have dinosaurs ruling your world, but can be satisfying for those who are patient enough to make it happen. The whimsical and metaphoric presentation of this god game will appeal to those who enjoy a lighthearted approach to the genre, but others may not find its gameplay exciting enough to stick around. Even if it has adorable dinosaurs you can fall in love with.
This review was based on a digital review code for Birthdays the Beginning for the PlayStation 4, provided by NIS America.