First Impression - Eden Tomorrow flashes signs of brilliance but is ultimately hollow?
It always bothers me when I can't get an accurate read on a game. I prefer to place a game into the good or bad category, then dial down to find it's exact location within that scale. Other times, I'll have a game like Eden Tomorrow, where I can't seem to get a consistent read on it's quality. One part of me thinks it's brilliant (at times). Another part of me thinks it's way out of it's league, an indie affair masquerading as a high-end release. Ultimately, the answer is somewhere in the middle.
I must first admit that this is just my initial impressions with Soul Pix's new release. I got a bit father into the game than you can see in the free demo on the PlayStation Store. Far enough to see both the promise this game offers, but also it's pitfalls.
The game's most entertaining aspect, is brief moments of movie-like thrills that you'll experience as you move through the more dramatic sequences of the game. Although this also begs the question... Is Eden Tomorrow actually a game? Or should it be considered an experience? The more I "play" it, the more I'm thinking it's like interactive storytelling. I don't feel like there's a ton of "game" in Eden Tomorrow.
This doesn't mean there isn't lots to like, but consumers need to be aware of what they're getting themselves into. The line between game and interactive experience, is furthered blurred with Virtual Reality. Sometimes a VR game will bleed back and forth between the two mediums. In my short time with this new release from Soul Pix, I get the feeling it's an interactive experience that would like to be classified as a game. You might even wonder if it's just easier to sell something like this by calling it a "game"? Can you sell an interactive experience for $20? You probably can, but it's much easier to market it as a full-fledged video game.
My single biggest criticism of Eden Tomorrow is that I don't feel like I have very much agency in the proceedings. I feel like I'm basically along for the ride. That a story is going to unfold in front of me, and I have a front row seat to the experience. You don't use Move controllers with Eden Tomorrow, which means no legit hand presence. I can't help but think this adds to the lack of interactivity. Still, I've seen developers do remarkable things with a DualShock 4 controller.
The one thing you do get to interact with, is your robot side-kick Newton. Very similar to Higgs in Robinson: The Journey, a robot companion helps guide you along in your adventure. Actually, It makes a ton of sense. You have something to follow. Something to lead the way. Someone to give you instructions and objectives. The good news is, you actually get to inhabit Newton from a first person perspective. Through some sort of mind-melding process, a neural link between man and machine.
The story is another bright spot, because you don't really know exactly what's going on. There's definitely something strange afoot, and you're not even sure if Newton is friend or foe. I feel like a major, startling plot twist is just around the corner. If you're a fan of Sci-Fi, you could probably do a lot worse. The running time for the full experience is supposedly somewhere between 4 and 5 hours, which isn't too bad considering the $19.99 price tag. I still think there's lots to like here, if you come into it with lowered expectations. I have to admit that coming in, my expectations were probably slightly inflated. I was expecting maybe more action, and more agency. More combat. More interactivity.
Still, despite it's shortcomings, I plan on finishing the fight with Eden Tomorrow. I want to see the story play itself out, and also see if there's any additional levels of interactivity as you get deeper into the game. There's a demo available for this game, and it's well worth checking out if you have a PSVR. If you like the demo, just imagine about 4 to 5 hours of similar stuff, and you'll probably get the gist of what Eden Tomorrow is all about. I'll be back with my final thoughts in a future article. Stay tuned!