Future Wars is a point and click adventure game designed by Paul Cuisset and developed by Delphine Software for home computers. It casts the player as a hapless window washer who stumbles onto a time machine and finds himself embroiled in struggle to save humanity's future. Released in 1989, the game is notable for its pop-up menu interface, which did not become common in adventure games until years later.
The game starts of with the unnamed protagonist busy with his full time job - washing the many windows of a huge mirrored skyscraper. Unfortunately, a simple mistake gets him raked over the coals by, Ed, his boss, so he decides to pull a little prank on the man as revenge. He rigs the office door with a bucket of water, and runs away to hide, only to stumble into a secret lab of some sort. Fiddling with the various devices, he finds himself whisked away just as an alarm goes off and armed guards come rushing in.
The protagonist ends up in the middle ages, and for a lack of something better to do, decides to go look for the local lord's missing daughter, Lana. He catches word that something might be amiss at the local monastery, and sure enough, he finds they are holding Lana in stasis in a lab similar to the one from 1990. He wakes her up, and she thanks him, fiddles a bit with the lab's computer, and then teleports the two back to the lord.
The lord and Lana now reveal themselves to be Lear and Lo'Ann Baley, time travelers from 4315, who have inserted themselves into the past to look for Crughon agents - alien invaders trying to attack future humanity by manipulating the past. Uncertain what to do with him now that he knows so much, Lear decides to send the protagonist with Lo'Ann to the future to speak with the Supreme Council about his fate.
However, something goes wrong, and the protagonist ends up stranded in a ruined city, with Lo'Ann nowhere in sight. After a bit of searching, he finds that he has indeed arrived in the correct time, and he's just a shuttle-trip away from the Council's residence in Paris IV. It turns out it's not that easy though, as the Crughon's hijack the shuttle in the air.
The protagonist awakens in a cell on a Crughon ship. Through some ingenuity and a few items he had hidden, he manages to break out and take out the crew... Only to find himself in the hands of a human boarding team, convinced he is a Crughon spy due to his unregistered DNA profile and some documents they find on him he grabbed back in the first lab. He finally meets the Council, but now as an accused war criminal, and is unanimously sentenced to death. Standing in front of a firing squad, it seems he has met his end, until Lo'Ann rushes in at the final moment with orders to halt the execution.
Back before the Council, the protagonist get an apology, and learns the story of the war with the Crughons. After a hundred years of conflict, humanity has been driven back to the once abandoned Earth, finally gaining some respite due to the construction of a global space-time energy shield. The shield successfully repelled the attackers for two generations, but then the Crughons came up with a new scheme - placing time-delayed bombs at the positions of the shield generators in the past.
Through the actions of the protagonist, the bomb in the middle ages was deactivated, but the one from 1989 went off, leaving part of the Earth open to attack. It is critical that no more bombs go off, and thanks to the documents the protagonist was carrying, they deduce there's only one more - which is being buried in the Cretaceous era. Lo'Ann is sent to defuse it, and the protagonist volunteers to go with her.
The two find the Crughons in the past, but unfortunately the bomb has already been activated. Lo'Ann suggests an alternate plan - using their enemy's ship to sneak aboard their space fortress to reprogram the bomb to explode early from there, but while she's explaining, they are spotted and a gun fight breaks out.
They manage to take all the Crughons out, but Lo'Ann is wounded in the process. The protagonist sends her back to the future for medical care, and proceeds to the Crughon ship alone, activating its autopilot to bring it back to its home.
Arriving on the Crughon's space fortress, the protagonist sneaks past their security and into a storage area. He contacted by the human fleet, and told they are about to stage a diversionary attack, but can only hold out for 6 minutes. In that time he needs to get into their computer center to reprogram the bomb and get out again. He rushes through a maze of service walkways, arriving at the center, finding it abandoned in the chaos. His AI computer quickly does the deed, and suggests he makes his escape in one of the Crughon's ambulance ships, which he promptly does.
Now hailed as a hero, the protagonist returns to Earth and begins a new life as citizen of the 44th century.
Future Wars is a classic point and click adventure game, where the player interacts with the world by combining verbs from a list with objects in the environment. Its interface was innovative for the time, using a right-click pop-up menu for the verbs, rather than the static list at the bottom of the screen which was common at the time.
However the game also featured a number of more archaic design decisions, including pixel hunting, unwinnable states, timed sequences, frequent deaths, and being very specific about where the protagonist needs to be positioned before an action can be taken. The game also provided little feedback to the player as to the nature of the games puzzles and the current objective, making it a very hard game to complete without a walkthrough or other help.
As was common at the time, the game featured in-game copy protection. The player was shown a grayscaled spot of paint on the screen and had to select the correct corresponding color from the back of the manual.