Games that feel like they're from the future (for their time)

I just replied to somebody talking about Disaster Report 2 (Raw Danger in superior nihongo ect) and it got me thinking about the game. I remember playing it and being like “Wow, there‘s so many ideas in this game that are mainstream now but weren’t at the time”. It got me thinking - Obviously Shenmue comes to mind, Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 for their fixed camera platforming that wouldn't be adopted by nintendo for another 5 years and then made mainstream. Maybe Final Fantasy 12, what other games are like that?

It feels trivial to list Rogue but someone has to so Rogue.

Not sure which of the big early space games is the best fit for a list like this but either Elite or Star Control 2 or Starship. Probably all 3. Their scope is ridiculous compared with their contemporaries. They feel like Mass Effect running on a calculator.

Wizardry 1 also still feels like the platonic ideal of a computer rpg to me, and Dungeon Encounters and Etrian Odyssey show its best ideas still feel fresh now.

In retrospect, Diablo 2's patch history/constant changes to the meta to maintain player interest/grindy online economy has struck me as the precursor to a lot of the insidious game-as-a-service crap that has become prevalent since the late 00s, so I guess it was ahead of its time in this awful way.

The old Marathon games for sure. SimCity 4 is still out ahead of most (maybe all) city builders

Playing the Ultima games always felt like I was witnessing something stolen out of time, largely due to all the incidental activities they let you do. I was amazed that I could walk out in to a field and cut some wheat, take it to a mill and turn my wheat in to flour, walk to a kitchen and turn my flour in to bread.

I agree with pretty much everything @TracyDMcGrath listed, especially Elite and Star Control 2. Zooming the galaxy map out in Elite on a C=64 was truely mind-boggling.

_Almost_ as boring to list as Rogue but someone's gotta do it: Wolf3D and then Doom. I'm not sure I need to say all that much here. If you were a games player when these games were released you most likely still remember just how astounding it seemed that these games existed.

I played a few hours of Half-Life Alyx at a friend's house, and I know it amused him very much when, every time I turned a corner I would run into some new emergent VR mechanic and go “….this is the GODDAMN FUTURE, JASON!”

Half-joke answer is Pathologic 2 still feels like it's from the future and it's a remake of a game from 2005

The Void and Vangiers are games that seem like they‘re from the future in that they seem operate under some yet to be invented logic and set of aesthetic ideas. IDK if that’s quite the topic though. Suppose they could be games from an alternate reality just as easily as from the future

several PSVR games, such as Superhot and Wipeout, feel futuristic as heck.

Tim on one recent show said _Red Dead Redemption 2_ felt like a game from 5 years from now (paraphrasing).

Majora's Mask did a time loop game before time loop games became a thing in 2020 and 2021.

Phantasy Star IV and Earthbound are both very traditional JRPGs, but PSIV‘s battle macros and Earthbound’s automatic victories when running into weak enemies are both such incredible quality of life features that I‘m a little shocked they weren’t immediately ripped off by every other JRPG since

@“GigaSlime”#p57671 Agree. Earthbound absolutely nailed it with its encounter system, and, for some reason, it is only now that most JRPGs are starting to catch up with it.

I've been thinking about the original question for this thread, and I'm trying not to make it just "ahead of its time," because I think those games tend to be somewhat obvious, whereas the "from the future" bit makes me want to look for a certain Otherness, like something we're not sure that our time will ever quite jive with. (Not quite sure what the original poster's intent was, I'm just trying to wrestle with the question a little bit).

Maybe not from the future, but I've been playing a bunch of Treasure games lately (Radiant Silvergun, Mischief Makers, Silhouette Mirage), and I would say they feel like games from an alternate timeline. On the surface, they look like their contemporaries- similar genres that were popular, comparable levels of catchy art and polish, stereotypical anime tropes left and right- but they play so differently from anything else. A Treasure game feels simultaneously weirdly restricted and utterly free compared to other games in its genre. I can definitely tell the developers made exactly the game they wanted to make, but I also get a funny suspicion that they thought these games would catch on more than they did. (Maybe I'm wrong). All I know is, when I play a Treasure game, it seems to imply/long for a future where the gaming public would long for innovative and creative game feels and not just mostly more of the same. We haven't gotten there...yet.

i'm going to say Disco Elysium in the hopes that, in the not-too-distant future, there will be more games like Disco Elysium. when i played it, it felt to me like nothing that had come before (or since). such an internal-facing, narrative-driven, dreamlike art novel of a game. i was not prepared to have the experience that game gave me, because i was not aware that the medium of games could deliver such an experience. so that, to me, fits the spirit of this question.

Elite surely felt like ahead of our times when I heard about it, and I think I found out about it four or five years after it first came out (1984).

**Star Cruiser** (which is obviously inspired by Elite) is also insanely ambitious for a 1988 game.

@"Connor"#p57618 quickly mentioned **Shenmue** but it bears repeating what an insane look into the future it promised. There was dumbstruck awe of "right sure obviously all video games will be like this within five years" just messing around with the drawers in the house, stalking NPCs to check if they really had a unique scripted daily routine, and being forced to wait for shit to happen. Shenmue II was _a much better video game_ but less ambitious than the first Shenmue in many regards.

**Mizzurna Falls** is a famous example of a game way ahead of its time (and also ahead of itself at times…) in many aspects. It came out almost exactly a year before Shenmue (December 1998) but similarly tried to create a consistent and persistent open world in which you would try to solve a mystery. It’s actually much closer to Deadly Premonition, with a less weird cast of characters.

Recently I can‘t help but keep going back to Donkey Kong ’94 and be uttery shocked at how ahead of its time that 2D movement system feels. Hell, even ignoring 2D, that game came out before Mario 64 and feels both incredibly fluid and incredibly free. It has such a staggering mastery of momentum and such richness in its input handling that it always feels like you‘re doing the cool thing you’re trying to do without the game holding your hand to make that happen. There are ten thousand little frictional touches that feel like they'd take 20 years for everyone else to figure out.

Donkey Kong '94 feels *so far* ahead of its time that playing any other platfomer on the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, or *most entries on the Game Boy Advance* don't feel as smooth and joyful.

Plus, its bait and switch entry shows a level of confidence that has rarely been repeated. I'm not sure I can even think of a second game that pulls off such a successful version of that trick.

@“The Good Guy”#p57635 What is Vangiers? I've never heard of it.

@“rearnakedwindow”#p57708 I misspelled, it's Vangers


@“TheFragranceOfDarkCoffee”#p57704 feels both incredibly fluid and incredibly free

makes me think of MGSV and how movement felt like a breakthrough in terms of control and fluidity
for that sort of game

Dragon Quest III, IV, and V.

GOD HAND was from a beautiful future that did not come to pass.

@“Gaagaagiins”#p57714 Imagine if some over-the-shoulder brawler hit it big instead of gears of war… completely different timeline. Games on the scale of Gears and Dead Space taking influence from God Hand instead of RE4. I feel like one of those guys who tries to imagine alternate outcomes in the Prussian Revolution or something.

Also, anything Rick Dyer was promising. I can’t find any upload of his insane pitch for Kingdom that I saw on a Dragon’s Lair DVD once but he basically wanted to develop Xbox’s Fable (another famously “too ambitious for its own good” project) twenty years prior as an interactive cartoon with voice control. On a $2500 console.