A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Birthdays the Beginning is a world-creation, sandbox-style simulation game. Players are given control of a blank chunk of land to mold to encourage life to develop. Over the course of the game, various forms of wildlife can flourish and evolve. Players can learn about these plants and animals, as well as how climate changes can affect the ecosystem. Although it can be a bit overwhelming to monitor and adjust the variables needed to create life, the game really does try to point players in the right direction and ease them into the complexities of their personal biospheres.
What's it about?
BIRTHDAYS THE BEGINNING is a game about life. It's about how life begins, how life adapts, and how life persists. After wandering into a dark cave, you stumble and find a small square world floating in front of you. Greeted by a strange entity, you're given the power to manipulate the shape of this world. Your goal? Bring life to this lifeless world and try to make it flourish over eons. Raise the elevation to build epic mountains, and the planet gets cooler as a result. Lower the elevation to craft deep blue seas, warming the planet's overall climate in the process. You'll need to manage the temperature, the moistures levels, and other factors on your new planet to create an environment suitable for life. Once life develops on your new world, it's up to you to help it adapt and evolve, spawning new species of flora and fauna. Watch your world develop over the millennia and maintain the balance to see the unique interactions once thought impossible, such as dinosaurs roaming the landscape side by side with humans. It's your world, and anything is possible.
Is it any good?
What if there had never been a prehistoric impact to cause the dramatic global climate changes that wiped out the dinosaurs? Could humans have ended up sharing the planet with them? Or, what if the temperature had been off by only a handful of degrees in either direction? Would there even be humans around to notice? These are hypothetical questions, but they're also the interesting premise behind the new life/world simulator Birthdays the Beginning. As the game opens up, you're given a blank, cubic chunk of Earth to carve out however you see fit in two very simple directions: up or down. You want mountains? Raise the elevation to Everest heights. Need a beachfront property? Carve out a deep blue ocean. While raising and lowering the Earth on a whim might seem pointless and boring, it's anything but. Every minor change you make has a massive impact on the overall ecology, altering things like the average global temperature and moisture levels. It's those fluctuations that directly affect whatever life might be thriving on your burgeoning world. And that's what makes the game so fascinating.
You're basically in control of a virtual petri dish. You can toss in some variables in the way of unique "power-ups," but you're basically trying to nudge things in just the right direction for life to thrive and adapt. Through trial and error, experimentation, and observation, you can't help but learn how difficult it can be for our planet to run like a well-oiled machine. There's a surprising amount of micromanagement, as you'll need to maintain things over eons of game time. It can get a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of all the stats, requirements, populations, and so on. Thankfully, the game has an ever-present assistant, ready to lend a tip or two. Every moment of hard work is worth it when you see your little world start teeming with all manner of flora and fauna. The game features more than 300 types of plants and animals to discover and collect, many of which have never shared the same space in history before. It doesn't hurt that the game's cute presentation makes it absolutely adorable to see a wolf and a triceratops mingling. Birthdays the Beginning teaches a valuable lesson about how the world works and how fragile it can be, but it does so in a way that's entertaining, enjoyable, and simply hard to step away from.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: NIS America
- Release date: May 9, 2017
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Ocean Creatures, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
- Last updated: March 19, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.