Future Unfolding is a nice little gem that will add an extra twinkle to your indie collection but it won’t outshine any of the big items in the list. Developed by Spaces of Play UG and marketed as an action adventure game that’s all about exploration. I would say Future Unfolding is unfortunately lacking in action and therefore hard to truly define as an adventure (considering your character doesn’t even have a name) but, it definitely provides exploration.
The game starts and you’re just dropped right into it–no hints, no tutorial, nothing. There was a brief visual of a controller on the screen that just told me to press circle but it didn’t tell me what it did or what to do in general, so right off the bat the first thing you do is explore and before long you’re running around befriending rabbits.
Now, I personally hate tutorials and hints and all that garbage, I always see them as an insult to the player as they expect the individual to be too stupid to understand basic gameplay like ‘button makes character jump’ or ‘turning switch opens door’ so it’s a breath of fresh air playing a game that expects you to be able to figure the world out. Sometimes this can work to the games detriment but I’ll get to that later, first I wanna talk about how the game looks.
This game looks beautiful. The whole thing feels like you’re playing on a pastel artist’s canvas; lots of bright colours and whooshing pen strokes. The animations are quick and responsive. The way they worked 3D models into the 2D world was done in a very immersed and blended way. Spaces of Play UG did a good job in making this game look like a piece of art. I was particularly impressed with how they portrayed depth. The game is in a bird’s eye perspective so you’re looking down on your character and the world, the game also has you traveling between different vertical planes.
In a lot of top-down perspective adventure games i’ll sometimes get lost between the layers; even in some of the best games out there like Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds I would sometimes find it hard to tell which level either me or my enemy is on. I had none of that trouble in this game. Somehow with the level design I just always knew whether a terrain was lower or higher, it also helps that when you climb higher the colour in the lower levels deadens. There’s definitely a lot of artsy stuff in this game. There’s weird dream sequences where they play with particular colour schemes or graphics to make everything psychedelic. I liked what they did on the art side of things but when it comes to the gameplay I felt it was quite lacking.
All you have is a sprint button (that runs out after a short time) and a button that activates things. You don’t attack your enemies instead you figure out a way around them by using what you have in your surroundings (when you’re not randomly dying for no apparent reason… This happened to me twice).
I love this idea but I don’t think it was implemented very well because at no point did I find it very challenging. The game does, however, do conveyance really well, it has to because there are no hints or tutorials and that’s great for providing you with everything you need to know to play through the game. The problem arises when you enter a new area and find the puzzles already done for you, all you have to do is make the motions. I can count on one hand with a couple of fingers missing how many times I actually got stumped and those times lasted no longer a few seconds before the puzzle was figured out.
The game plays heavily on the fact that you’re exploring but doesn’t really give you many things to find. At first I was intrigued, I was running around looking for things to do and collect but after I finished the first level I just wanted to get through the game. The whole appeal of exploration is lost when the only real reason to do it is to beat the level. It’s like walking through the woods–most people will just do it to get to the end but it’s made a hell of a lot more interesting when you’re an ornithologist or entomologist.
All in all, it’s an alright game but it’s just kind of boring. I definitely see how it would fit a specific mood as it is very therapeutic. The art is very nice and you can breeze through it without thinking very hard. There’s also a rather interesting and artistic narrative about the ascension of man in nature (also when you die your body becomes a tree and the whole game is brimming with trees. I thought it was kind of fun to think you were running around a big beautiful world saturated with dead humans). It is by no means a bad game so I definitely recommend it but I only really recommend it as something to do when you’re in complete sloth-mode because it’s just not very engaging.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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