Properly articulating what Birthdays means to me is difficult. It is the embodiment of the pure joy of gaming, where I can sit down and simply immerse myself within this space without feeling pressure or tension. There’s nothing to “win,” but everything to enjoy while, at the same time, the game is pointing out, in its very innocent and heartfelt way, a very simple but so important environmental message. To Yasuhiro Wada, the environment itself has always been the real protagonist of his games, and Birthdays The Beginning is the ultimate realisation of that philosophy.
Even though certain design elements aren't as streamlined, fleshed-out, or user-friendly as they could have been, part of me is just thankful Birthdays even got greenlit. Niche as it might be, I've wanted something like this for years, and despite my admittedly high expectations, I still came away impressed. I hope the game is able to find an audience, because it so clearly deserves one.
As a simulation, Birthdays the Beginning is a fairly unique approach to the open-world sandbox simulator. It does a fantastic job of demonstrating how important it’s to maintain balance within an ecosystem, in order for life to thrive. It also helps to drive home how even the smallest of organisms can make a gigantic impact on the world around them. The main issue is that the campaign is so focused on introducing new mechanics that it seems to lose sight of this unspoken thesis. In turn, this leads the player on a mission to track down answers that should instead be provided to them at a glance. Due to this, it’s hard to shake the feeling of being thrown into the deep end of an algae coated swamp, without a life raft.
Birthdays: The Beginning is a nice simulation game with really cute art direction, which fans of the genre and people who seek a relaxing gaming experience will probably enjoy. Unfortunately it has its flaws, like poorly detailed graphics, slight frame rate drops and clunky controls, that we hope will disappear in the next titles of the series.
It often feels more like a thing to do rather than a game to play. While I loved the cute aesthetic and simplicity of its mechanics, the game gave way to tediousness and dullness far too often for such grand subject matter. It felt nice slipping into grade school nostalgia for a few hours, but I’m not in fourth grade anymore. A thing to do isn’t enough anymore.
Birthdays the Beginnings is more of a passive experience than a game and some people will love it for it. Others, like me, may find the vague instructions and the lack of interaction a bit tedious and a put off. It’s certainly an interesting curio but will absolutely not be to everyone’s tastes.
While I absolutely love the concept of Birthdays: The Beginning, the execution leaves much to be desired. It’s too passive and too finicky, and doesn’t do enough with the core concept of life appearing and evolving over time. There’s not much here for seasoned players or curious kids, and as someone who’s been playing games for a while, I can say that this formula was done far, far better on the SNES back in 1993 with EVO: Search For Eden. Look it up!
SummaryA garden game in which players create cube-shaped worlds that give rise to diverse and unique lifeforms. Shape the geography and alter the temperature of each world to create the conditions for life and witness the birth of an entire ecosystem.