Welcome to the Future

Developer/Publisher:  Blue Sky Entertainment
Year Released:  1995

Review by Steve Ramsey (January, 2003)
Half treasure hunt, half a kind of performance piece, Welcome to the Future starts with a poem and ends with a soft-rock song. What comes in between is sometimes psychedelic, occasionally strange, but never terribly inspired.

It should probably be sub-titled "Looking for stuff in a maze", because that is pretty much all you do. Or perhaps "I watched too many surfing films in the seventies", which I will explain later.

"The travelers roamed through infinite time"
It's first person point and click, and following an exhortation to "Seek the signs" your clicking starts on a hillside littered with dirt tracks and pathways. The poem referred to above provides the objective of the game, but if your copy comes without the included piece of paper, "seek the signs" will suffice to get started. Pick a path and start seeking.

And keep seeking, as you wend your way back and forth across and around the hill and its branching paths. It might be open air, but its maze-like qualities are apparent.

You will know a sign when you see it. Click on it to add it to your inventory. You might also find other objects that are in fact keys, and objects or artifacts on which a key will work. If you don't have the key, you will be instructed once more to "seek the signs".

That is pretty much it. There are no clues as to where the signs or the keys are, and if you have the right key it will automatically open the corresponding artifact. You don't need to do anything other than click the artifact. If you haven't found the right key, well its back to the pathways and look some more.

"Recording their presence in symbols and rhyme"
I found it was important to turn completely around each time I moved forward in order to look in every direction. Peripheral vision is non-existent, and whilst all the objects you are looking for are large and obvious and out in the open, you will not "see" them unless you are looking straight at them from one step away. It is a bit the same with the branching paths.

The artifacts, at least at this stage of the game, may provide you with another sign but might also be a gateway to an underground realm. You need to find that gateway, as you need to get below ground.

Once you do, the quest continues, this time inside a more typical maze environment. Corridors abound, each ending in an airlock-like room, from which you choose your next direction and step into another corridor. And so on. The corridors are different in appearance (this is where the psychedelia first comes in) but no amount of cosmic design can disguise that this is a maze.

Again, you need to find signs, and the keys to get through or past some of the obstacles you will encounter. You also need to find the three lenses of light. Again, there are no clues. Just keep looking. And wandering.

"A message was left for those following to find"
It is obvious which object or artifact most of the keys open. Some, though, are far less obvious. So when you find a key, there is no guarantee you will know what it opens, even if you can find the artifact again.

The only help you get through any of this is the capacity to click on the pharaoh's head at the bottom of the screen, which will return you to the start point on either the hill or underground (depending where you are). So if you get hopelessly lost, or aren't sure of your bearings, you can extricate yourself and start again. It didn't make the task easy, but it made it almost manageable.

I say almost because whilst I spent numerous short periods of time in these mazes over many days, determined to get to the end, I ultimately gave up and finished it off with a walkthrough. For that I thank Mr Bill (his walkthrough also commences with the poem if your copy is without it).

"Enlightenment comes by seeking the signs"
If you find all six signs, you can "place them in the pharaoh's sight" and take the final voyage - a kaleidoscopic video featuring dolphins and manta rays accompanied by the soft-rock song referred to earlier. This is where the reference to surfing movies comes in. My recollection of these movies is that they were never just about guys (and they were all male) having a good time surfing big waves. They all seemed to be about a more mystical, almost spiritual experience that no non-surfer could possibly understand. Some almost seemed to suggest it was the most noble and enlightened activity on the planet. Most were accompanied by dreamy rock songs, punctuated at times by ethereal visions and colour. Anyway, that is the impression they left me with and it's one that leapt into my forebrain when I took the final voyage.

Prior to the final voyage you will find a music player that will allow you to listen to the game's 10 musical tracks (the music is probably the high point of the game), plus another artifact that gives access to another sound and vision experience not too dissimilar to the final voyage. On its completion you can examine the artwork involved at your leisure. There was the odd piece of poetry, and messages left in rocks. Another artifact lets you see the credits.

The game plays full screen when you are above ground, but in a smaller colour coded window when below ground. The colours help you keep track of which level you are on. Graphics are more realistic above ground, being animated down below. You can choose to play in "challenge" mode, in which you have to find the keys, or" explore" mode in which you have the keys but still have to find the doors and signs.

Probably one for maze fans only. rating:  

Copyright © Steve Ramsey 2003. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Windows 3.1 or higher, 486 33Mhz or Pentium processor, 2x CD ROM, 40MB disc space, 8MB RAM, Quicktime 2.0 for Windows (included)