Welcome to the Future

Review by Orb

I would almost call Welcome to the Future a vanity piece. I say this because some very talented people used this game-publishing opportunity to showcase their fairly impressive talents as musicians, songwriters, lyricists, and graphic artists. WTTF, as a result, plays well on a number of levels. Firstly, it's a well-designed, straightforward, first-person adventure game. But it also packs a series of pieces of art that can be saved and used for your desktop (did I just give away what I was doing last night?) and also contains a full music album. If you like the artists' style, these guys come off as extremely talented, hard-working artists. If their styles are not to your taste, it could look a little overblown and artsy-fartsy. I fall into the first category, so if their tastes are not yours, take that with a grain of salt.

The plot of Welcome to the Future is negligible. The object of the game is to collect artifacts or keys, which access more areas of the game and also bring the game to completion. You as the player are looking for the traces of ancient travelers that been there long before your exploration and collecting these in order to join the ancient travelers. Stop me if you've heard this one before ...

This title is extremely spacey and ethereal. It features an above-ground world with digitized photos and hand-painted backgrounds, similar to the game Golden Gate, which has a comparable environment, using photographs from San Francisco. The above-ground world in WTTF is set in a canyon, and the player traverses through wooded areas and hills, along myriad paths carved into the countryside. It's quite beautiful and, coupled with the music, very serene.

The secondary game environment is a netherworld, far underground, that's very futuristic and surreal. The interface changes between these two worlds, as does the music, although movement is still point-and-click. In the underground world, there are four levels, accessed by elevators and differentiated by colors—yellow, orange, blue, and turquoise—three of which are separate mazes that must be traversed to accomplish game goals. The mazes are a series of halls, all of which are very different with startlingly intriguing designs, that are connected by hubs that all look exactly the same, each with four doors, one in each main compass direction. Talk about a workout.

Despite the cleverness with which the passages are drawn, gameplay-wise this whole thing gets fairly redundant pretty darn quick. Although the maze scenery is very beautiful and esoteric, it is in some instances so highly symbolic and stylized that it is sometime hard to get your bearings. This, coupled with the fact that tremendous time must be spent in the mazes to collect needed inventory items, makes for some unwieldy gameplay.

Two redeeming features that soften the blow of the mazes are, firstly, the game has a helper device that transports the player back to the entrance of these if she gets hopelessly lost or doesn't want to trudge back the way she came in. It also will relocate the player if she gets turned around in the paths at the surface level. Secondly, the underground levels are differentiated by color-coding that frames the game screen in the color of the level, so it's easy to stay focused on which maze you're in.

The music is entirely of the New Age, Enya variety, with a little rock and roll mixed in. Great care has been taken with the music, and it is not an incidental part of the game, but rather a featured aspect, including being part of the payoff of the endgame sequence. It works here really well, as WTTF is one of those lonely exploration first-person games, a style that lends itself well to this sort of music. The designers are certainly proficient musicians, and the music is all well-done for its genre[s] and could stand alone easily as an audio CD.

The puzzles of the game are a series of keys, colored lenses, and golden symbols that are collected to forward gameplay by opening up additional areas or to complete tasks to finish the game. One big drawback of this is that none of this is entirely clear in the game, and there are no real instructions that are clear-cut as regards this. Explanations are buried in some overblown poetry that must be interpreted. Also, if the player buys the game in a jewel case, sans box, he's liable to be missing some of this poetry that gives any kind of explanation, which is one of those not-well-thought-out design flaws similar to games that require a key/code to open that can be easily lost.

Some of the game keys open entirely unique (to adventure games) features, including a large collection of art pieces done by the designers and an interactive machine that allows the player to hear all the songs used in the game as straight music, as well as music video-style pieces that combine the music with the artwork. It's a really nice touch, and it's obvious that much care has been taken in the production of these art pieces. This design touch also includes something I've not seen before—the player must acquire a key and use it to access the game credits inside the game! The game can also be set in two modes, challenge or explore.

The game misses the gold star because it relies far too heavily on the series of underground mazes to accomplish game goals that are just too difficult to enjoy spending that much time in them. Not mapping them properly can result in a pretty stuck player. The mazes are creative and well-designed, but after several hours in them the design begins to look like a one-trick pony. The graphics and music, however, make this title worth taking a look at. The End

The Verdict

The Lowdown

Developer: Blue Sky Entertainment
Publisher: Blue Sky Entertainment
Release Date: 1995

Available for: Macintosh Windows

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Screenshots

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System Requirements

Mac:
Mac 040 or Power PC
Double-speed CD-ROM drive
System 7.1 or higher
40 MB RAM

PC:
486 with 33 MHz or faster processor
Double Speed CD-ROM
256-color VGA with 640x480 video
Windows 3.1 or later, Windows 95 compatible
8 MB RAM
40 MB of free HD space
Mouse

Where to Find It

Check the Game TZ

 
   
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