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another-world-20th-anniversary-edition

Another World - 20th Anniversary Edition

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By Bobfish29-04-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Bis18marck70 (editor)
Another World - 20th Anniversary Edition

The Defence

Developer:
Eric Chahi, DotEmu
Publisher:
Focus Home Interactive
Genre:
Adventure
Release Date:
04-04-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Pentium 4 1.6 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 8600
AMD equivalent
RAM:
1 GB
HDD:
3 GB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

 

First it was a cartridge, then it was a disc, then it was a mobile game. Now the 1991 cult classic has made its way to the PC, remastered for a new generation. After twenty-two years, how well does this notoriously unforgiving 2D platform puzzler hold up?

The Trial

 

Really bloody well!

Call me biased, I don't deny it. When I first played Another World (also known as Out Of This World) on my SEGA Mega Drive (that's the Genesis to you upstart colonials) at the age of twelve, I was blown away. Never had I seen a game so jaw droppingly gorgeous, hand drawn, meticulously detailed and expertly animated visuals. Of course, that was more than two decades ago; standards have changed a fair bit since then. But so has the game. Sort of.

Disco time!

Disco time!

Featuring completely re-drawn environments and models, as well as the option of playing in the classic style with the press of a button at any moment. That is not all. The game’s sound has been completely remastered and two additional difficulty settings have been added giving you the option to play on Easy, Normal or Hard. Easy is - shockingly enough - easy, whilst Hard makes the game even more impossible than it already was, respawning enemies who are far more accurate and aggressive as well as making our boy Lester less accurate.

But don't kid yourself that playing on Easy will be a piece of cake. The true challenge in the game comes from the puzzle solving, which had me scratching my head despite having played through the original game dozens of times already. Everything depends on diligent attention to your environment and a lot of lateral, but entirely logical thinking. This includes everything from taking out a wall to flooding a pool so you can swim across, to not shooting an alien guard so that he presses a switch to seal a door. The variety in gameplay and actions for something that, effectively, has a ‘one button does everything’ control scheme is staggering.

There's even a hefty narrative to back up the experience. Though, apart from the opening, in which Lester is conducting some kind of experiment with what appears to be the large Hadron collider, there are no lines of dialogue and no text to read. A perfect example of the old axiom show, don't tell. This is a story told entirely through the visuals. Everything from the casual brutality of the alien guards, to the forlorn expression on the face of the alien prisoner you awaken next to, to the gestures he makes in frantic attempts to explain things to you.

About those visuals; as previously said, everything has been re-drawn, but remains faithful and precisely accurate to the original. Rather than completely reinventing everything, great care has been taken to keep everything absolutely authentic. The only true difference is in the amount of colour and the more advanced effects, such as anti-aliasing and, high definition texturing. There are sharp angles still, but deliberately so. They are there to enhance the visual aesthetic and that feeling of everything being ‘other worldy’. The entire thing is a love letter to the fans.

Look into my eyes...

Look into my eyes...

Of course, as with any game, this will not be for everyone. In fact despite the strength of its following and a great deal of critical success, there has never been the kind of mass appeal some might expect. Partly due to its age, coming from a time when gaming was a much smaller industry, but mostly due to the brutal difficulty. Despite being barely an hour of actual gameplay once you know what you're actually doing, it took my twelve year old self months of rigorous experimentation to figure everything out. Eventually winning through sheer, blind luck.

The Verdict

 

In short. This is an incredibly well made game that has stood up tall and proud to the ravages of time. The age, the difficulty and the general style of gameplay may conspire to deter some people. Actually, it is likely to deter many people. However, to those looking for something very, very different and truly challenging with an absolutely gorgeous visual aesthetic, this is not one to be missed. I, for one, am very glad this was never remade in a 3D setting. Honestly, that would kill everything that made it so unique.

Case Review

  • Atmosphere: Right from the beginning, everything sucks you into the experience.
  • Controls: Four keys to move, one for actions that actually does what you want it to.
  • Gameplay: Deceptively simple and surprisingly complex.
  • Visual Aesthetic: This game is truly a work of art.
  • Challenge: You will either love it or hate it, but you will not underestimate it.
  • Length: Even for a twenty year old game, an hour of gameplay is a little short.
5
Score: 5/5
One of the best games ever made, if only it was longer.

Appeal

One of Eric Chahi’s best known games, Another World is a game that is nearly as old as I am. It’s an adventure game that sees you taking on the role of Lester, a young physicist, who has an experiment go horribly wrong, the result of which transports you to an alien world. After some exploration, you’re captured by an alien race, and imprisoned. Along with an alien prisoner, you escape, and fight your way through a range of different locales. The game plays well, eschewing point and click gameplay for platforming, with many of the puzzles revolving around well timed jumps and movements. Some of the solutions aren’t obvious at all, and, despite my initial good intentions, I’m not ashamed to say that I had to consult the great and powerful internet to figure some of them out. Even then it took many frustrating failures to get the timing right on a few of them.

Speaking of frustrating failures, the combat in this game is another exercise in patience, with everything you encounter being immediately lethal. All you have as a defense is the pistol you take off a guard, which allows you to fire lasers and shield yourself from gunfire. Shootouts become a case of ‘destroy his shield before he destroys mine’, and when multiple enemies are involved, this quickly ends up becoming a slaughter if you make so much as one mistake. Visually, I’m surprised at how well Another world has held up, although it makes sense since it seems to be entirely animated drawings. The environments look pretty, and there is a noticeable shift between areas that gives you a sense of progression as you move through the game. The music helps contribute to the game’s atmosphere, and is subtle enough that it doesn’t distract from the rest of the game during critical moments. As for the game as a whole, it’s what I would call perfectly timed.; In a world without internet I probably would have gotten frustrated, giving up about half an hour in, but with today's conveniences I was able to experience an absolutely cracking story in a matter of hours, and I had fun doing so.

3.5
Score: 3.5/5

Appeal

Another World is a game outside many gamer’s world. It’s too old for a lot of people to even comprehend that computers were invented at that time. Now, thanks to Focus Home Entertainment, all those illiterate little kids can experience a little piece of history...with achievement support. What a wonderful experience it is. The game still looks gorgeous. Understandably the 20th Anniversary Edition has seen a facelift, however it still remains true to the original. The art looks like something you would see in an indie game today and not something that was crafted 22 years ago.

Unfortunately the gameplay hasn’t kept up with the times so as well. It is old school. Very, very old school. The actions and controls are very basic and quite unintuitive...just like in the old days! The story , though unique and intriguing, is quite short and to experience it you will need to pass a lot frustration. Often, you just don’t know what to do or just keep failing to do something while dying over and over and over and over again. It is also very slow, so the ADD kids these days will surely hate it. But if you want to know how old people felt when they were young and experience your share of gaming history – you must pick up Another World!

4.5
Score: 4.5/5
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