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Future Unfolding Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . More than anything else, Future Unfolding is a relaxing puzzle game that never holds your hand. It sends you on a cryptic quest that is all about exploration and discovery, offering an adventure that will stick with you for a long time to come. It's not like other games, which is one of the best things I can say about this meditative experience. It certainly won't appeal to everybody, but Future Unfolding is one of the most rewarding puzzle games I've played this year. Rating: 78%
Future Unfolding
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  • Review Score:

  • B+
As somebody who grew up in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Northwest, I know a thing or two about exploring the heavily wooded areas where civilization is nowhere in sight. I have a lot of fond memories of getting lost amongst the trees and friendly squirrels, always imagining that I was on a grand adventure and not just a few minutes away from my home. Future Unfolding reminds me of those carefree days of roaming through the forests solving puzzles that only I could see. And while it's certainly not for everybody, I had a lot of fun running through the foliage and getting to know the wildlife.

Future Unfolding is a bit of an enigma. We're dropped off in the middle of the woods with no backstory or information on our hero. In fact, we're not even sure what we're supposed to do at first. This isn't one of those games where it lays out a path and quickly brings us up to speed, which is one of the things I really liked about the experience. We're expected to explore, experiment and figure it out for ourselves. Yeah, like I said, this won't be for everybody.


Without giving too much away, we discover that the woods are filled with a number of random puzzles. What makes this game so effective is that we don't even realize they're puzzles at first, and learning the solution to one problem will play into how you look at the rest of the obstacles. A lot of it comes down to simply looking around for trees and objects that are out of the ordinary, but you'll also need to find ways to interact with this world in order to open up new areas and discover a new piece of the story.

A lot of it comes down to interacting with the different animals that populate this forest. One of the few things we can do early on is press a button to talk to the fury friends. Sometimes this will mean moving sheep from one place to the next, while other times you'll be riding an elk through tricky terrain. Of course, not all of the animals are friendly, and sometimes you'll need to find a way to avoid the beasts that will devour our hero if given a chance.

Despite the occasional wolf, Future Unfolding is a mostly peaceful experience. It will occasionally make you scratch your head in confusion, but it rarely turns into a full-on action game. The story is pieced together through a series of short clues and comments, and mostly left up to the viewer to interpret. This can be maddening at times, but I liked its style and wanted to see where the puzzles would take me next.

What Future Unfolding does well is make you feel like you're actually learning something. Although a lot of its charm is steeped in obscurity, there's a definite through line that is good about teaching you ideas and mechanics bit by bit. It's not until you step back and see the bigger picture that you fully appreciate the subtle clues and lessons, and by that point you can't help but feel satisfied by your accomplishments. It's a rewarding and almost zen-like experience that occasionally reminds me of The Witness (though, don't expect the same kind of puzzles).

Future Unfolding (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It helps that the world we're exploring is absolutely gorgeous. While not a technical tour de force, the forest is bursting with colors and has a personality all its own. The developers have done a good job of making each section feel unique by having us swim through the lake and run past the winding canyons. You can cut through the dense lining of tress, stomp on the flowers and even move the tiny rocks around as you move. There's a real attention to detail here that helps sell the look of the environment.

My only real complaint is that the short bits of text often feel a bit unneeded. We get lines of philosophy that are there to keep players engaged, but I think the puzzles and exploration is enough. Some of these moments feel a bit too obvious and didn't do much for me. Seeing as the rest of the game seems to pride itself on having you figure everything out on your own, these moments are definitely the weakest link.

More than anything else, Future Unfolding is a relaxing puzzle game that never holds your hand. It sends you on a cryptic quest that is all about exploration and discovery, offering an adventure that will stick with you for a long time to come. It's not like other games, which is one of the best things I can say about this meditative experience. It certainly won't appeal to everybody, but Future Unfolding is one of the most rewarding puzzle games I've played this year.
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