Future Unfolding is a colorful action adventure unlike anything I’ve experienced before. While I appreciate the depth and more longform storytelling most games offer, there are times it feels better to step out of those genres into something a little simpler. Here, we get an intriguing mixture of beauty, vibrant colors, and quiet contemplation I’d been seeking.
Future Unfolding introduces a quiet and vibrant world, players taking the role of a faceless figure (it’s never said if they’re a man or woman) and left to explore every inch of paradise. The world at first seems peaceful, but there are dangers that lurk about at the edges. Large cat like creatures are ready to tear apart this nameless figure for entering their territory. Other times peaceful animals like deer and rabbits offer an easy friendship and can even help the figure to progress to a new area.
The narrative is kept to a poetic style, terse verses delivered by creatures in the world. When the protagonist approaches one of these odd animals they offer sage advice or an observance of the world around them before disappearing.
There isn’t much variety in terms of gameplay, since the focus is exploring every area of the world. I spent the majority of my time wandering from area to area trying to find puzzles to solve. Solving puzzles is simple and easy, usually involving have to use the environment to reach a new section. There are ‘portals’ scattered throughout the world to help navigate through each area of the world without having to backtrack for several minutes just to sweep through one section.
My nameless avatar did appear to have a few tricks, like the ability to dash for a short time and being able to ride deer. They even seemed to befriend white and black rabbits who would follow them around for a short while I entered another area. Using a small mechanic that creates a ‘circle’ around the avatar allowed them to interact with the environment. I called this the ‘sense’ mechanic as it allowed me to interact with the animals or to activate objects in the world.
The only threat I faced the entire time were large lion-like creatures who would pursue me the moment I entered their territory. Most of the time I could dash past them without any issues, but other times I’d end up walking right into their maws. Dying seemed to have little if no consequence, the screen just goes black and white with my character respawning at the last ‘portal’ they’d popped out of.
One of the few aspects that kept me constantly engaged is the sparse narrative and just overall beauty of Future Unfolding I found myself falling in love with. While I wished there had been more animals about to make the world feel more alive, the colors were popping off the screen they were so beautiful. There is a day and night cycle that casts shadows across the ground, giving the world a sense of depth. This vision is so striking I was surprised to learn that German developer Spaces of Play UG describe it as “procedural generation with traditional level design”, and it really works.
Wandering through densely packed forests, flitting through fields of flowers with bunny rabbits, and even riding a deer or two to gain access to a steep cliff all make for beautiful environments. Even less than bright areas like the cave systems I came across felt dank and somber when passing through them. The music ranged from soothing to just enjoying the quiet atmosphere of birdsong.
Relaxation aside, I’m not completely sure if I’m sold on the premise of Future Unfolding. On the surface, the quiet, meditative environments felt relaxing, which encouraged contemplation of the world in a quiet, peaceful existence. I wish there had been more to the actual gameplay, which seemed to be secondary to the overall mood the visuals and aesthetic offer. I’m not sure if the game set out to accomplish its goal, but it’s certainly gorgeous in its own right.