Have You Played… Future Wars (aka Adventures in Time)?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Possibly important proviso: I haven’t played beyond the introductory section of Future Wars since the 90s. There is every chance that it is diabolical. In fact, I can recall that certain sections of it were diabolical even at the time. More importantly though, I can recall it being strange, ambitious, stylish and unpredictable. It’s a fascinating historical footnote, if nothing else.

Future Wars is a French-made point and click adventure from Delphine, the same studio as Another World and Flashback (though didn’t share a creative lead with the former), and while it lacks the focus and precision of either of those, it makes up for it with scope and batshit craziness. Time travel is its central conceit, so it hurls the player from cleaning 20th century skyscrapers to breaking into medieval castles to battling against aliens in the far future. All of this is peppered with lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of entirely cruel fail states and insta-death.

It is very much a French adventure game. It is also very much a reminder of what these kinds of games were getting up to before everyone decided to ape the SCUMM formula. Roads not taken, and all that.

Oh, and its still-attractive visual style – while to some degree necessitated by the technology of the time – informs stuff like Sword & Sworcery today. I think it’s pretty, anyway.

27 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Richard Cobbett wrote about it recently: link to pcgamer.com

    • Geebs says:

      Also Yahtzee has done Let’s Plays of both Future Wars and Operation Stealth which are both much quicker and much less painful than trying to play either oneself. They’re on youtube.

      (To answer the question; no but I played “John Glames – The Stealth Affair” and after having been lulled into a false sense of security by LucasArts games it was like finding out that your pint of bitter was actually a pint of urine. Or, worse, lager)

      • TomA says:

        I loved Another World and Flashback but you’re right, this looks exactly like the type of game I’d rather watch a quick play through of than end up bashing my head against the keyboard for entirety of it.
        I’d always assumed that urine would taste quite bitter. Pilsner all the way ;)

      • heretic says:

        I have good memories of playing Operation Stealth with my brother, when I tried it myself I always drowned at the cave level though…

    • Heliocentric says:

      Glad to see the quality of non supporter articles hasn’t dropped. Recommending open faced crap, nice.

      • Alec Meer says:

        You’re grinding your axe really unfairly, man.

        • Heliocentric says:

          Okay, I’m being dramatic. I’ve recommended stuff I’ve ‘sorta dipped my toe in’ before and later discovered it was a bit turd shaped. I’m bitter about the paywall and it’s spilling out into my general discourse.

          I’ve been in communities that were axed up before and disliked it, (bioware split by ownership of titles at one point, blizzard fenced off forums during a wow drama to subscribers only etc) also the narrative split between the easy to believe suggestion that the free site must suffer and the staff assertion that it won’t.

          I’m sorry for being rude, also that game seems like bum.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            It is a bit bum by today’s standards, and actually not truly up to the adventure-game watermark of the time either. However it is a pretty significant game and did have pretty amazing graphics for its time.

            Back in the days when there were such things as free demos, this was one of those games that almost everybody with an Amiga or Atari ST had played the demo of but finding someone with an actual copy was pretty rare. It’s a pretty good history lesson for anyone who thinks classic adventure games were all either SCUMM or AGI based.

            It was like a beautiful mystery box that you would speculate about the hidden secrets of and then probably be slightly disappointed when you found very frustrating gameplay. If you’ve played the Indy III adventure game and think the library in that game is as bad as hunt-the-pixel gets, you won’t believe some of the puzzles in this one! Time-based hunt-the-pixel is a particularly cruel way to die.

            I remember one puzzle with a barrel and a remote control…

            Oh God… The memories…. The memories are returning!

          • Premium User Badge

            Aerothorn says:

            As you say, the staff has asserted that it won’t. I think they’ve built up a lot of goodwill over the years. Why not give them a chance?

            It is also worth noting that Jim has been very clear that some of the money is going into public content, it’s not all funding Secret Stuff. So as point of fact “free” RPS should actually get *better* rather than suffer.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        I’m surprised to see this coming from you, Helio. You’re not a passing troll, you’re a regular here.

        They recommended a game you don’t like. Okay? I’m sure this isn’t the first time this has happened? I don’t see what that has to do with the supporter program.

      • Premium User Badge

        Aerothorn says:

        Also, for those curious: the number of new supporter articles posted since the program began is 2. It’s not like they’re writing most of their stuff behind the curtain.

        (there were some other older ones that had been produced on the side over a month or two).

        • Heliocentric says:

          As a heretic it’s not a fact I could have looked up so thanks for the heads up.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            There was a joke about violent games in the form of a flowchart… It had errors. It was reasonably funny. I’m not sure what the other one was.

            If I thought RPS were likely to turn into a place where you have to support to get the best bits, I wouldn’t even be a reader, let alone a subscriber.

  2. Maxheadroom says:

    I remember one of the very first puzzles involved placing a flag into a single pixel sized, almost totally invisible hole on a wall map in order to open up a secret passage.

    14 year old, pre-internet me almost lost it on that one

    • Gravy100 says:

      Oh god, you’ve brought it all back, the horror, the infuriating madness comes upon me once more, damn you Future Waaaaarrrssssssss

  3. KDR_11k says:

    I saw a game called Future Wars on store shelves but it looked like an Advance Wars clone, not a P&C.

  4. twaitsfan says:

    The ending to this game was perfect for a 12 year-old male.

  5. zproc says:

    I realized not long ago that Eric Chahi of Another World/Out of This World had worked on the graphics of this one before Another World, so i tried to give it a go… but i didn’t go far.

  6. tomimt says:

    Future Wars is by no means a great game. It has most of the flaws of the old school P&C genre, like pixel hunting, timer based segments and so on, but it still is relatively interesting game. It’s not as such greatly written, but it has this interesting b-sci-fi flair in it, that makes it somewhat enjoyable, if you have a walkhrough in hand.

  7. JamesTheNumberless says:

    I really liked this game although it wasn’t as good as the lucasarts and sierra games I preferred at the time, it had something about it that made it very different and interesting. It belongs with games like Lure of the Temptress, Simon the Sorcerer, and the first Discworld game and the adventures of Maddog Williams – on a list of graphic adventures that are too flawed to make it into a top 10 list but which are too interesting not to recommend.

  8. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Every screenshot of Future Wars should feature the dialogue box saying “Go a little closer”. That’s easily the single most memorable thing about the game.

    And yeah, it’s borderline unplayable today, because it was borderline unplayable even back then. Do not even try to play this without a walkthrough. The visuals were fantastic, though.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Yes the art was fantastic but the art design was terrible for a graphic adventure game. When you play a lucasarts game the balance between important things not being lost in the background or them being hilighted too obviously is just about perfect and it seems effortless but clearly it isn’t.

  9. Gravy100 says:

    Definitely unplayable today, anybody played Cruise for a Corpse recently? Has that aged somewhat better?

  10. arccos says:

    For some reason, I got this confused with Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic. A completely different game.

  11. sophof says:

    I loved this game as a kid, but haven’t ever been able to get back into it. All the emulators seem to cock it up (I’ve tried the dosbox and amiga versions at least). Going to try it again, although I also remember the gameplay actually being quite bad. I’ve no clue how I had the patience back then to play through it, I couldn’t even really speak English back then, I learned most of it from transformers and GI-Joe cartoons on sky channel (one advantage to being Dutch).

  12. pund says:

    Reminds me of time commando :) Going to give this baby a spin.