7 Years From Now Review – Duplo Tears

    Title: 7 Years From Now
    Developer: fumi
    Release Date: June 17, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Pqube
    Genre: Adventure

Narrative adventures are only made better for me when they take place over a specific period. If you want extra points, you can do what developer Mafumi Yoshida did with 7 Years From Now, which was initially released in 2017. Now with a few updates added along with a release on Nintendo Switch, this emotionally driven adventure can now make a few more players cry.

7 Years From Now stars the 15-year-old Haruto Soraki, who has just traveled back to his hometown for a week during spring vacation on the 29th of March. Haruto has memory problems; he remembers nothing before he left his hometown seven years ago after he was adopted by the Soraki’s.

Well, everything except for one memory, where he promises to meet someone on April 1st, seven years from now. Now that time has passed, Haruto sets out on a mission to figure out if his mind is just playing tricks on him and if he can reclaim his past. By the 31st, he’s reunited with an old friend, remembered a few details, and stumbles upon a mysterious conspiracy at the local hospital. And then, after a blackout, he ends up back on the 29th.

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7 Years From Now is one of those adventure games that stack a lot more on its plot than you’d expect. I mean, just look at those visuals. This title’s characters and environments are in a 3D pixel art reminiscent of Lego Duplo, which does the trick and sets you up for a nice, calming story about a boy learning about his past.

And that’s not wrong because that’s exactly what happens. There’s just a whole lot of surprisingly intense subject matter for such simple, bright visuals. There aren’t many environments, but they’re visited with a range of characters under different circumstances, so it never feels like backtracking.

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These minimalistic character models still manage to be unique as each character is easily identifiable due to distinct designs in a similar vein to a 16-bit sprite of a SNES game. The animations are hilariously non-existent, consisting entirely of characters bouncing slightly as they move to simulate walking, but I don’t think it affects the delivery. This simplistic design choice conveys actions to the player naturally and doesn’t hinder the emotional beats encountered or pacing.

7 Years From Now’s sound design is fantastic. It’s almost entirely just background music, but the licensed score is filled with a combination of relaxing and breathtaking melodies. What really makes them stand out, though, is the pacing and use of them throughout the chapters. There are many times when the music will simply fade out in the middle of a scene, but you won’t notice as you read.

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Then the game hits you with a silent wham line before a fade to black and a title card. This title card will have the name and number of the chapter you just played, as well as one of the more dramatic pieces of music.

You’re then given the option to save; time is also provided to the player to let the wham line sink in, assisted by a banger piece of music. This game has forty chapters, which is a lot, but they’re also relatively short. They really wanted to make the most of this title card technique, and it never gets old. Even during the additional epilogue and side stories that show up after you’ve seen the credits roll the first time.

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If you’re looking for a narrative that has more than its fair share of drama and tension without being overly dramatic or angsty, 7 Years From Now has just what you need. Its minimalist designs become the highlight of the emotional plot as each end guides you to new truths and realizations. I can’t say I’m proud that I was brought to tears by Duplo character models, but it added to this memorable experience.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Pyre Kavanagh

Senior Editor - Illusions to illusions. Will solve murder mysteries for money so they can buy more murder mysteries. @PyreLoop on twitter