When I initially saw Soulpix’s Eden Tomorrow, I was excited to find a story-driven sci-fi adventure that I could immerse myself in. It seemed to be full of visually interesting set pieces, peaking my curiosity about the story that wove them together. Once I got the game I was excited to fire up my PSVR headset and lose myself in another world. That excitement quickly declined after the first hour when I realized I’d be doing absolutely nothing interesting gameplay-wise for the entirety of the game.
Eden Tomorrow begins with you as an unnamed protagonist crash landing on an alien planet. After nearly getting eaten by a dragon-like creature, you pull yourself out of your wrecked space pod with the help of your drone friend Newton, who almost looks like a rip off of the Ghost from Bungie’s Destiny but without any of the personality. Realizing you’re stuck in a cave, Newton suggests that he may be able to fly around the cave and find a way to escape. He then installs a chip in your head which gives you full control over him at the press of a button.
Charge my shockwave!
As Newton, you can fly around freely within a limited range of your character. Newton’s key ability is his shockwave, which can be used to move debris and stun specific enemies. Once you find the exit to the cave, Newton says that his shockwave isn’t powerful enough to move the debris out of the way. You must then find three blue energy cores strewn throughout the immediate area to charge his shockwave, making it powerful enough to blow away the debris.
And that’s the gist of the gameplay in Eden Tomorrow: Walking to your next destination while Newton force feeds you the narrative. If you can't progress, you switch to Newton until you open the path, then switch back and keep walking. During action scenes, there was never a sense of danger or consequence. If you “die,” you’re simply loaded back seconds before your fatal mistake. You’re even put in a literal “safe space” in the form of a forcefield while controlling Newton.
It's worth noting that Eden Tomorrow is only compatible with DualShock 4. It wasn't indicated whether there was PlayStation Move or Aim support in the game's description, so I tried each and neither seemed to work in-game. Not supporting the Move controllers is a disappointing choice, because it could have been an easy way for Soulpix to make the gameplay more engaging.
One of the first things you’ll notice after putting on your headset is that the game is very dark in certain areas. Even after turning up the brightness, there were points where it was difficult see almost anything at all. It even ruined some of the more visually stunning areas.
Welcome to Sci-Fi Land!
Story-wise, you play an amnesiac who must piece his past back together while discovering what happened to the people that populated a desolate alien planet. The story itself is certainly the centerpiece of Eden Tomorrow, as it should be for a game of its genre. It’s far from the most original as far as sci-fi goes, with some strong inspiration from the likes of Blade Runner and Event Horizon. There was one point where a twist from Annihilation is straight up recycled. The sentient AI trope is here too. Soulpix sets up the basis for an interesting story, but I never found myself truly invested even during the most revelatory moments. And that’s mostly due to Newton.
At times, Newton made me feel like I was taking a guided tour of some “Sci-Fi World Adventure” attraction at a generic amusement park. Newton would even shout “Look behind you!” when you were being chased by a monster or the path you were running on was crumbling away. Newton talks as if periods don't exist, speaking almost exclusively in run-ons. When listening, it sounds like the voice lines were just smashed into each other with no gaps in between during editing. After any sort of story event happens, Newton leaves you no time to digest it before he hits you over the head with an explanation. The narrative isn’t the most complex in the world, so having everything over-explained comes across as disrespectful to the player.
The narrative itself could have easily been told through the environments, the various items and journals you pick up, and the audio logs you listen to during your journey. With the exception of a few details that needed more context, Newton’s explanations just felt unnecessary. I would have liked to have seen him as a companion that experienced the emotion of the story’s events along with you. This would have put more impact behind Eden Tomorrow’s more introspective themes.
What first attracted me to this game were the interesting areas you get to explore, and the game rarely delivers. Most of the time, you’ll be seeing a whole lot of sand and rock textures, every once in a while changing it up with bland spaceship interiors. I was waiting for something to wow me, leaving me with a sense of awe, but what you see in the trailer for Eden Tomorrow sums up what you get. And even the set pieces from the trailer are only impressive for a fleeting moment before you return to the repetitive gameplay.
Otherworldly Creatures and Cinematic Music
Usually when you think “alien planet,” you think otherworldly creatures, and Eden Tomorrow delivers on that aspect. To my memory, I ran into seven different species of creature throughout the experience, with one of them being reused at several points. You’ll see dragon-like creatures chasing you down, while other times you’ll run among long-neck alien dinosaurs. The inhabitants of this planet are fun to look at albeit stiff and almost animatronic in their animations, which can be off-putting at times. Your main enemies, however, are flocks of evil drones controlled by a sentient AI. They look identical to Newton, but with a color swap. I understand that this makes sense for story reasons, but being chased by drones and dragons almost the entirety of the game only adds to the sense of repetition.
What I didn’t expect and is one of the standout parts of this game is the quality of the music. The orchestral pieces included are cinematic in nature and sound like a ton of effort was put into their compositions, which is ironic given its juxtaposition to the gameplay. If anything, it only makes the rough gameplay stick out like a sore thumb even more.
A Disappointing Experience
Eden Tomorrow feels like a new developer’s first outing. The gameplay is basic, repetitive, and just plain boring. The narrative would be solid, were it not shoved in your face by your flying robot companion. Aside from the music, I found myself almost completely uninvested in the game past the first hour or so. Even the occasional towering visual set piece wasn’t enough to elevate the experience. And with so many deeper, more involved experiences on the PSVR platform, Eden Tomorrow feels like a step back.
Collin reviewed Eden Tomorrow on PS4 with a code provided by the publisher.