Another Take – Another World

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Yeah, I know, the title – we had to!

Another World was developed by Delphine Software International who became well known for this, Flashback and (in the course of writing this I discovered), Shaq Fu. Another World is known as Out of This World in the United States and saw release on multiple platforms beginning with Amiga and Atari ST. It later saw release on all major platforms of the time including Mega Drive, Super Nintendo and on DOS PC systems. A special 20th Anniversary edition was released in 2011 and as of writing is available on every major system. For this article I played the Vita port.

The story is told through an opening cinematic which at the time of release was amazing for a video game. Lester Knight Chaykin is a young physicist who in the course of an experiment with a particle accelerator inadvertently transports himself to an alien world. The specific details need to be gleaned through the instruction manual though as the game has no voice work or written dialogue. As with many games it has since influenced, Another World doesn’t give any clear answers and most of what happens in the game, happens in-game.

Another World is a platformer similar in design to Prince of Persia’s with a character largely restricted by natural human ability. Lester cannot jump high or fall too far and is very vulnerable to hazards in the environment. The alien world he arrives on has a hazard on almost every screen. Monsters large and small as well as humanoid alien creatures and environmental dangers are all directly or indirectly out to kill him. Lester will be killed a lot too. Similar to games like LIMBO which Another World no doubt influenced, dying is often the method of working out how to get from one danger or puzzle to the next. As annoying as some may find this design, it never sets you back too far and many of the deaths are morbidly amusing.

Very early in the game, you meet and help an alien who becomes your ally and appears at different times throughout the short and dangerous adventure. Though there is little communication between him, a bond quickly develops and I quickly found myself caring as much for his well-being as he seemed to care about Lester. This is very evocative of what many developers, especially in the independent scene attempt today. Another World can be credited with having a great deal of influence on trying to bring out emotions in the player outside of anger, frustration and joy. Even today, I can attest that it succeeds.

The enhancements of the 20th Anniversary are minimal and this isn’t a bad thing. Like many remastered games, you can switch between the original graphics and the smoothed and updated visuals. There are also improvements with sound and more generous checkpoints. The biggest advantage it has though is its wide availability and affordability.

Another World certainly won’t be enjoyed by everyone, it requires patience and experimentation and it can be frustrating seeing you character die over and over again. Thankfully, a mistake doesn’t take you back too far which is especially so in the Anniversary Edition. It is also quite a short game for its time and definitely today. Still, it was one of the first games that I can remember that really tries to tell a story almost totally through the game itself. It is hard not to become close to your alien ally as you each take turn helping the other through to the end. If nothing else, Another World is worth experiencing as an influential piece of gaming history but it helps that I found it a fun and engaging game in its own right.

February, 2016

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