Another World is a game that has always intrigued me. Originally releasing in 1991 for the Amiga and the Atari ST, the game was highly regarded at the time for the cinematic effects that were prevalent throughout, with both cutscenes and in-game animation earning Another World praise from most that played it.
Fast forward 23 years and numerous re-releases and remasters and we are at the present day, with the game releasing on the PlayStation Vita. I finally have the chance to play Another World after hearing so much about it, seeing the praise and acclaim people give it and the endearment many feel for it. As I started the game up and watched the opening cutscene the first thing that hit me was the game’s artstyle. Another World is a great looking game in it’s own way. It may not match up to a lot of the games you will play on the Vita but it does stay true to the original 20+ year old version (a press of Triangle allows you to switch between original and remastered visuals) and the attention to detail and vector outlines look crisp, sharp and have their own, unique beauty. The second thing that hit me was the ‘Game Over‘ screen – over and over again.
Another World is a platform game that sees you, a physicist named Lester Chaykin, warped through a hole in time and space to a mysterious, alien planet after an experiment goes horribly wrong when a lightning bolt hits your laboratory. Alongside the tough platforming you will encounter various puzzles that will need to be solved in order for you to make your escape from this alien world. Along the journey you have a friendly ‘alien’ buddy who was locked up in a cage with you just after your arrival to the alien planet and will accompany you on your journey. Your newfound friend will work with you as you try to evade capture, avoid getting bitten by the world’s various hostile creatures and figure out the challenges that are thrown your way.
This game is no walk in the park. The platforming and puzzles can be difficult, if you missed a certain switch a few screens back it can mean curtains for you a little later in the game – I spent half an hour dying all because I didn’t shoot a lampshade! Also, at times, the accuracy or reflexes needed to jump over chasms or avoid enemies can make you feel like the game is impossible, causing frustration until you eventually manage a perfect run on the section you have been playing.
This led to me almost giving up on the game many a time, taking breaks from playing to prevent me from hurling my Vita across the room in annoyance. I have always been an avid fan of the platform genre, ever since my first experience of playing Sonic the Hedgehog back in the days of the Master System. The one thing that all good platformers need to have, in my opinion, is a control scheme that not only is perfect but one that is also responsive. Another World has neither.
Another World‘s control scheme is restricted to two buttons and the directional pad, possibly to replicate the feel of the controls from the original which would have been played using a two-button joystick. The actions assigned to these two buttons, in my eyes, have been so unevenly distributed that at times you will end up doing actions that you had no intention of doing that will almost certainly lead to your demise. Depending on how long you hold ‘X’ for, Lester will either sprint, shoot, charge a shield, unleash a power shot or kick, whereas a press of Square will allow you to jump. I feel that Another World’s control scheme is the main reason the game is so difficult.
Without having to reload a checkpoint due to death or due to a missed puzzle, Another World is a short game and can be completed in just over half an hour. This is a great shame because, no matter how much I hated the game’s control scheme and gameplay mechanics, I did find myself enjoying the story and immersed in the game’s world. Part of the reason for this was the atmosphere and feeling of isolation that Another World creates.
The lack of any dialogue in the game means that you do not get to fully understand what is running through our protagonist’s mind, which I think allows for you to feel at one with Lester. The aliens communicate with each other in a series of grunts, and a lot of the sound effects that you hear are faithful to the sounds you would expect to hear from an early 90’s game. Combining the audio with the beautiful art-style of the game does help to create a world that doesn’t feel to distant from our own and one that you don’t mind seeing over and over again as, depending on how often you die, you repeat each scene. As I mentioned earlier, I found that being able to switch between the original visuals and the remastered visuals freely throughout the game was a nice inclusion. I can see that all those years ago when Another World originally released it would have been a visually stunning game and it is great that you get the chance to see how the game looked back when it launched and also see a re-imagining of the scenery at the same time.
Another World is a game that has left me with mixed feelings. At first I hated the game, I loathed the controls and was not overly captivated by the story. The more time I spent with Another World though, the more I enjoyed it and the more obliged I felt to help Lester escape this strange world he finds himself in. As easy as it would be for me to criticise Another World for the way it feels and plays today, I think that the fact that it has stayed true to its original form after all these years is something that should be commended amongst the vast array of reboots that keep cropping up.
For those of you that are old enough to remember Another World the first time round, you will love this version of Eric Chahi’s masterpiece, the nostalgic feeling from when you first played this title will surely come flooding back as the opening cinematic plays. However if this is your first time playing Another World, like it was for me, be prepared for a few hours of frustration, bewilderment and the chance to say that you have played a game that is oft-regarded as one of the most memorable games of it’s time. Just don’t expect to be visiting that other world again any time soon once you have escaped from it.