by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
PULLED TO THE FUTURE
I’ve got a thing for games with minimal gameplay (I still can’t get Virginia out of my head), so getting a chance to play through Supposedly Wonderful Future, a text-heavy point and click that eschews puzzles in lieu of walking you through a largely linear path of decisions, sounded right up my alley.
In a game like this, without the razzle dazzle of fancy graphics or complex core gameplay, it’s the story and establishment of atmosphere that are necessary to rope a player in and make them care. I’ve got to give credit to Supposedly Wonderful Future for an attractive premise, because I found the general setup for the narrative to be pretty engaging. After a strangly brief intro showing an aging man appearing to settle on suicide, it jumps back and starts innocuously enough; you’re a programmer who’s just started his own business, and life seems good. Things are made more interesting when a mysterious woman shows up with a job offer for the protagonist Michael: she claims to be from the future, and she wants the player to come with her to the year 2048 to help them solve some intentionally-vaguely-described ethical problems stemming from their incredible technological and medical advancements.
After wondering what a lowly everyman from 2018 could bring to the table in helping a team of scientists from the future, it turns out that all they need is someone from the outside to bring a neutral opinion on morality and ethics. The bombshell is also dropped that Michael will be dead in 30 years, so bringing him forward to that time shouldn’t cause any big paradoxes. By completing five tasks over five days, you can help them decide what’s right, what’s wrong, and where to draw the line. It’s an interesting premise, and these first few minutes of the game had me engaged. This continued as I started playing through the first scenario, which was much more affecting over it’s short run time than I expected it to be.
Moving forward, none of the five situations captured me the way the first did, and many of them were down-right tedious. The second, for example, has you dealing with cyber-bullying. Given the interesting premise of the first scenario, I was excited to see how cyber-bullying would be twisted to fit the futuristic setting. Instead, I was given an overly long slog reading video transcripts and internet comment sections. The big act of bullying? Posting a fake resignation letter on behalf of an actress. I work with children professionally, and that has to be the tamest, most boring way to handle cyber-bullying I’ve ever heard. The fact that this letter, written eloquently and without obscenity would cause someone to lose their job is laughable, and the entire scenario, with it’s few minor twists, was a bore. I don’t want to get into the other three as much, which deal with the idea of God, addiction, VR, but they land somewhere between the first two; not as interesting as the first, but not as dull as the second.
My more major beef comes from the ending, which I'll speak about in vague terms. Throughout the daily missions it's a bit strange that none of them seem to have any lasting consequences, and none are mentioned again after completion. It's all very segmented, and doesn't really seem to be moving any type of plot forward. The final challenge attempts to throw a meta twist to explain this, but quite frankly, it fell extremely flat for me. I found the ending to be frustrating, and the credits rolled before I was even able to make the final choice the game promised me earlier. The body of the game had its ups and downs, but the ending left quite a sour taste in my mouth.
Though the quality of writing wasn’t always great, it was never particularly poor either. Most of the referential humor earned a smirk, which is more than a lot of games can garner. The only thing that didn’t really sit well with me was that in most conversations, you had the option to respond as an absolute dick, but with no consequences. For a few conversations I picked the meanest responses, belittling my conversation partners with sass and downright rudeness, and the conversations largely just went on as usual. It kind of pulled me out of things to be honest. Why give the option to be a super nice, helpful guy, or a complete ass, if it doesn't matter? In reality, nobody should have wanted to work with my Michael, but I guess it is what it is. Speaking of writing, in between each scenario you’ll have the opportunity to chat with some folks or surf a few web pages to learn a little more about the year 2048, which contained a few cool stories. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking or plot-necessary, but I’m always a sucker for extra lore.
I’ve got a soft spot for super-low-budget titles like this, almost always the product of passion and heart, but there’s no escaping that Supposedly Wonderful Future is an inconsistent experience that, while containing some successful moments, has too many that are dull or drag. It's clear that there are a lot of interesting ideas at work, but they aren’t packaged into an experience that functions well enough or as a cohesive whole.
An interesting premise and a few interesting scenarios.
Some dull scenarios, a lack of cohesive plot, and an unsatisfying ending.