Review: Never Future
Thrown forward into the future, can you clean up the Earth and find your way home? Never Future is an RPG with a difference, and that difference is in an educational storyline that is paired up with a competent game engine.
Version Reviewed: 126.96.36.199
Never Future certainly looks the part, with charts available at the touch of a button, icons and buttons for the main functions. The game is played across the full screen, and the graphics are rather bold. Perhaps maybe a touch too bold and large, as the amount of terrain you can see is limited, even on the larger screened Windows Phone handsets.
One issue that I had when first playing the game was the direction controls. Rather than a virtual stick on screen that simply reads the direction of your thumb press, Never Future has a fixed D-pad of direction buttons, so you need to get your thumb pressing down in the exact location to start moving.
Because of the square gird system used by the game, and the lack of a diagonal input in the controller, controlling your character in the game is not the easiest of tasks. I would hope that a reworked UI is on the to-do list, because this can be done so much better.
The restriction to a grid system has an impact on the game as well, rendering it far more old school than the modern 'walk in whatever direction you like' design methods. By limiting the options, it reduces but does not eliminate the focus on moving around the gaming world, and places a larger emphasis on the puzzles you will come across, the enemies to defeat, and the locations you will explore.
So it's an interesting balance point - but I still think a more fluid controller, while staying with the retro feeling maps, would be a win all round.
On the opposite side of the screen you have your secondary controls - using magic, casting spells, attacking enemies, that sort of thing - these are used far less, but still remain in a fixed position on the screen. This is actually an easy option to work with and works well. I especially like that the buttons light up when the feature is usable, a handy guide and very useful as you start out with the title.
In terms of story and plotting, Never Future moves away from the expected swords and sandals of the traditional RPG game, and makes you an archaeologist. While walking around a dig one day, you find the traditional Mystery McGuffin to start your adventure. In this case, you're going to be thrown forward in time. There you will find a human race clinging to life, as the planet is overrun by a new monster that has been living in the trash and the detritus of society over hundreds of years.
Your obvious mission is to get back home, but as you walk through the battered landscape, how you are going to do that is not at all clear. Who knows the secret of time travel? Who can help? And how can you build up your inventory and find enough supplies in this strange new world.
As with every RPG, you'll be guided through the story through the quest system giving you tasks to do. Without these you'd be wandering aimlessly around the landscape, and while that might be more true to life, it doesn't make for an exciting game.
Helping you through the quest system are the footsteps - one tap on the quest button and you'll be shown on the screen where to go through a path of glowing footsteps. That doesn't stop you going in another direction or taking a diversion - in fact you really should because the trash that litters the world can be picked up and handed in at the local recycling centre in exchange for useful equipment and supplies to keep you going.
The exchange shops are limited though, so you will need to think carefully about the supplies you need to pick up. It's not an easy matter to nip back for some more first aid packs or a different weapon in Never Future.
All of the game mechanics have an undercurrent of education about the ecology of the planet and how you can improve it in the future, which allows some subtle lessons to be passed on as to what a player can do today in the real world to treat the planet with a bit more respect.
Never Future's developers have taken time to not only build up a suitable story to their RPG engine, but they've crafted the whole game around the principle and that gives it a sense of cohesiveness that is not always guaranteed. The controls are a bit clunky, and the quests are rather simplistic, but that means the game is well suited to playing on a mobile device where you might only have five or ten minutes to play the game (at a time).
Never Future doesn't break new ground, and feels a little bit backwards in some areas, but it does deliver a solid RPG adventure that stands out against a sea of hack and slash storylines from other titles. A trial version is available and it's probably worth looking through before committing to the purchase.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at