Seeing Another World (known in the past as Out of This World in some territories) arrive on Xbox One in its 20th anniversary incarnation was an interesting exercise for me as it was a game I knew of back when my Atari ST was my primary gaming and computing machinery but at that time I never got around to playing it.
The game had quite the pedigree too being developed by Eric Chahi who had been the artist for Delphine Software’s previous hit, the graphical adventure Future Wars. Seeing as that game was also highly regarded for its visuals there was little doubt that gamers would not be short changed with his new game, especially as he would also be taking up the programming duties in addition to the art.
It was hard not to notice it though as the graphics at the time were an absolute standout. My main exposure then was through a demo of the game’s opening cinematic which showcased the fascinating polygonal based animation system that created a level of fluidity rarely seen in games on a platform more geared towards sprite based games. Launching first on the ST and Amiga in 1991 there was very little like it at the time that could compare on a visual level. This was the kind of stuff that you’d later see in Flash games.
Now that I’m seeing it on modern platforms it did raise the concern that it might be remastered just for the sake of it but it seems that the work done has been very mindful of that with options to use a “classic” low resolution version and sound effects/music. For all intents and purposes though this appears to be very much the same game many people would remember from 1991… for better or worse.
The game puts you in the shoes of Lester Chaykin, a scientist who is caught in the middle of a particle accelerator accident and is literally transported to another world from which he must learne to survive in. Gameplay is a platformer much like classic Prince of Persia in that your character has a specific move set that they use to get through the environment. But where that game really gels in how the player’s movement is applied, Another World can at times be frustrating because positioning your character to navigate some areas is not always easy.
In addition, combat can be a button mashing nightmare that is further compounded by having three different firing modes tied to how long you hold the button down. It’s worth mentioning that the original game was played on computers that used single button joysticks so this multitasking of a button press is totally understandable and it would likely require a lot of rebalancing of the game if the actions were assigned to their own buttons on modern controllers.
Though the controls can be harsh, probably my biggest gripe with the game is the checkpoint system which is inconsistent in when it works and for a game where trial and error is a major part of it you need it to be more prolific in its use. Having to repeat some sections that require arcade reflexes time and time again due to a death several screens later is not fun.
The game itself will at most take an hour or two to play through and once it’s done you are unlikely to need to return to it unless you’re wanting to knock over any remaining achievements which are easy enough to earn. Yes, we’re talking an easy 1000 gamerscore here. Unlike more recent titles of a similar vein such as Inside, there’s no secret areas here for you to discover on subsequent play throughs.
In terms of presentation, Another World continues to excel in the visual department and could just as easily be a modern indie title. The graphical style of the characters combined with the enhanced backgrounds of the remaster have done a lot to keep the visuals fresh. However the game’s mechanics have not held up as well and might feel lacking for modern gamers. As a result it might now be considered more of a curiosity purchase; an early attempt at cinematic storytelling that was combined with (then) innovative technologies that would later become a staple of future games.
Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is out now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.