7 years from now
Storytelling adventures are only improved for me when they take place over a specific period of time. If you want extra points you can do what developer Mafumi Yoshida did with 7 years from now, which was originally released in 2017. Now, with a few updates added as well as a Nintendo Switch release, this emotional adventure can now make a few more players cry.
7 years from now stars Haruto Soraki, 15, who just returned to his hometown for a week during spring break on March 29. Haruto has memory problems; he remembers nothing until he left his hometown seven years ago after being adopted by the Soraki.
Well, anything but a memory, where he promises to meet someone on April 1, seven years from now. Now that the time has passed, Haruto makes it his mission to find out if his mind is playing tricks on him and if he can reclaim his past. On the 31st, he finds an old friend, remembers some details and comes across a mysterious plot at the local hospital. And then, after a blackout, he found himself on the 29th.
7 years from now is one of those adventure games that stack up a lot more on its plot than you might think. I mean, just look at these visuals. The characters and environments in this title are in 3D pixel art reminiscent of Lego Duplo, which does the trick and sets you up for a pleasant and calming story about a boy learning about his past.
And that’s not wrong because that’s exactly what’s happening. There are just a lot of surprisingly intense subjects for such simple and bright visuals. There aren’t a lot of environments, but they are visited with a range of characters in different circumstances, so it never feels like going back in time.
These minimalist character models always manage to be unique as each character is easily identifiable with distinct designs in the same vein as a 16-bit sprite from an SNES game. The animations are hilarious and nonexistent, made up entirely of characters bouncing slightly as they move to simulate walking, but I don’t think that affects the delivery. This simplistic design choice conveys actions to the player naturally and does not hamper encountered emotional rhythms or rhythm.
7 years from now the sound design is fantastic. It’s almost entirely background music, but the licensed sheet music is filled with a combination of relaxing and breathtaking melodies. What really sets them apart, however, is their pacing and use throughout the chapters. It often happens that the music just fades in the middle of a scene, but you won’t notice it while you read.
Then the game hits you with a silent wham line before a black fade and title card. This title card will have the name and number of the chapter you just played, along with one of the most dramatic pieces of music.
You then have the option of recording; time is also provided for the player to let the wham line sink in, assisted by a piece of banger music. This game has forty chapters which is a lot, but they are also relatively short. They really wanted to get the most out of this title card technique, and it never gets old. Even during the additional epilogue and side stories that appear after seeing the credits roll for the first time.
If you’re looking for a narrative that has more than its fair share of drama and tension without being overly dramatic or scary, 7 years from now has just what you need. Its minimalist designs become the culmination of emotional intrigue as each ending guides you to new truths and realizations. I can’t say I’m proud to have been brought to tears by the character models of Duplo, but it added to the momentous experience.