Did you ever try playing those “free” mobile games where you collect resources to build with and expand your areas? I used to be obsessed with them, but I never made it very far due to the real-time waiting and pay-to-progress mechanics involved. I never thought I’d be able to experience what those games had to offer, but then I stumbled upon a hidden gem during the last Steam Next Fest. I Am Future, developed by Mandragora and published by the well-known tinyBuild, advertises itself as a “cozy apocalypse survival” game, mixed with elements of exploration and resource management, and after playing through the entirety of the demo, I’d say I have to agree.
We start with an animated cutscene, showing off our unnamed protagonist waking up from a six-and-a-half-year hibernation. We awaken on top of an abandoned skyscraper, and it’s clear from the scattered debris and overgrown plants that the world has gone to ruin. What exactly happened to us? What happened to the world? What’s our name and how did we get on top of a skyscraper in the first place? Well… we aren’t too sure about that just yet. With memories lost and answers to be found, we start our journey on this rooftop.
I Am Future first introduces a few of its mechanics in a linear way that’s free-flowing and not at all overbearing—find something to eat before you starve to death, but first, figure out how to get past this obstacle. Now find a part for this machine, then go check out this area, then do this and that, and more of this. It may sound like an annoyance, but we don’t necessarily have to follow these directions right away. Our tasks are placed in the top right corner if we ever forget them, and we’re then free to explore the unlocked parts of the rooftop as much as we’d like.
As we go on to complete our tasks, I Am Future gives us so many mechanics to explore, from fishing for food and growing and maintaining a garden, to disassembling certain items for spare parts and ridding the rooftop of enemies that like to spawn during the night. One of the most important tasks is the ability to break down resources. Trees, tables, and chairs can get turned into planks, and random items scattered on the ground get turned into other spare parts, like plastic. We can do this with our trusty cyborg hand, which we can find upgrades for around the rooftop. Back to the enemies, they’re little caterpillar-looking creatures that turn into toxic flowers after eating something during the night. We can either destroy them by hand, losing health points, or use a craftable spray to kill them instead.
There were tiny details sprinkled throughout I Am Future that made gameplay extra satisfying. For example, if you fish without bait, you’ll be able to catch extra resources you may have run out of, and if you’re like me and build an abundance of things you don’t need, then this will be a lifesaver. Then there’s the campfire that you can use a bucket of water on to sanitize it and water your crops. You can also trade some of the burning fuel for coal, which is a neat little concept. There are mini storage units in a lot of the machines and items you make, such as the fridge, your workshop table, and even the campfire. And I love that you can build a lamp post to attract enemies, have them eat that instead of your crops, and then get back the same number of materials to make those lamp posts again the next time. It truly makes I Am Future feel like a resource game.
Now, I was starting to wonder if I Am Future would have any story past not knowing who we are or what happened to the world, but at the very end of the demo, it delivered. We receive a call from a radio, and upon picking it up, two people who are clearly against each other speak to us, pitting us against one another. They argue and argue until they leave you with a choice: Join the Doctor and build a spaceship to somewhere called Eden, or join the resistance, find out who you are, and find out the Doctor’s secret. I was excited to make my first impactful-looking decision, but then the demo ended. They got me, and they got me good, leaving me wanting so much more.
When I first booted up I Am Future, I’ll admit that I thought I’d get bored fairly quickly. But then I realized that I had been playing for over an hour straight, very late into the night—and that was only my first session. I Am Future is truly already looking to be a fantastic game. I’ve never been more intrigued by a demo’s cliffhanger and cannot wait for the upcoming full release to see what else this cozy rooftop will have to offer, and to turn it into my home.
Inanna previewed the I Am Future demo on PC. I Am Future is scheduled to release May 18, 2023.