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 colorsyellow,
orange, blue, and turquoisethree 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 beforethe 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
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.
Developer: Blue Sky Entertainment
Publisher: Blue Sky Entertainment
Release Date: 1995
Four Fat Chicks Links
Mac 040 or Power PC
Double-speed CD-ROM drive
System 7.1 or higher
40 MB RAM
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
Where to Find It