Future Unfolding’s Steam page bills itself as an action adventure that is all about exploration. Your goal is to unfold the mysteries and secrets hidden in the beautiful landscapes around you. There are no tutorials, and no one is telling you what to do. You discover the surreal, dream-like world and everything you can do in it for yourself while you play.
But, it;s not exactly right, it may have no tutorials, and you can do what you want. But all that you can do is explore through this world in an extremely organised and laid out path, going from one ‘puzzle’ to the next. And unsurprisingly, tutorials are a good thing, they may over simplify some stuff or go over the most basic of things, but in the end they tell you how to fully enjoy the game in front of them. You can have all the ‘passive learning’ you like but some people are not going to understand the mechanics of your games if you don’t teach them.
It took me half an hour of mucking about to realise that the way to solve a problem was to hop on a deer and jump over a gap in the games terrain, as nothing before hand suggests that deer can jump over gaps, no prompts, no text, not even a deer hopping over a gap by itself. Later on I learnt that they could jump much larger gaps than I ever had before, not through any tutorial or such, but by again faffing about until the deer jumped over this huge gap. And finally, after 4 or 5 hours of playing this game, I learnt that you actually control the deer when you ride them, before I thought that the deer went one way and you try and fight it.
This escapade is indicative of Future Unfolding, it’s got some interesting ideas but I have no idea if that’s all there is, or if there’s more that I don’t yet know . Running through a field of grass will make bunnies, some white and some black. You can become friends with the bunnies and they will follow you around, but I have no idea what they are for
Now that I’ve gotten through the cruff, I can talk about what I love about Future Unfolding, and that is its art style. Presented in an extremely beautiful oil-paintesing-esque style, it runs on a custom engine which allows the game to fully shine. Grass waves in the wind, leaves cast dynamic shadows, your character slips between clumps of tress with an extreme physics simulation.
Future Unfolding is a beautiful and visually attractive game, but its lack of guidance at times betrays its unpaced structure. I honestly cannot tell if its feature complete and I just cant work out how to do things, or if its feature incomplete and they’ve hidden it beneath layers of ambiguity and ”freedom to choose”.
If you enjoy flirting with new lands, losing yourself in the alien, and taking in the world around you in full gulps, then it’s easy to lose yourself within; if you’re looking for, well, what it has occasionally been pitched as an open, free-form action-adventure, then you might well be disappointed, or at least confused.