TIME has been kind to Another World, a landmark video game which, more than two decades after its release, remains an elegant and beautifully conceived experience.
Another World 20th Anniversary Edition
Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Playstation 3 / Wii U / 3DS
Score: 8.4 / 10
At a time when the autumn schedules are being clogged by uninspired clones and sequels of hit triple A titles, playing it again acts a reminder of a gentler, less ruthless era in the industry, when one bedroom programmer’s singular vision could thrill the world.
For younger gamers, Eric Chahi’s seminal title must feel like a curiosity. Exposition is minimal, with no voice acting or overarching narrative attempting to offer context to the story of Lester, a physicist who finds himself transported to a hostile alien world. Instead, discovery is made through trial and error, as the unlikely protagonist seeks his escape through a series of screens riddled with obstacles and lifeforms intent on cutting his life short.
Ostensibly a sci-fi platformer that demands pinpoint precision and an eye for the obscure solutions to the environmental puzzles it throws up, its control system is pared back, employing only two buttons and the thumbstick. Yet the game’s design allows for the satisfying execution of such a limited roster of moves, with gunfights fraught and frantic affairs and perilous jumps requiring careful planning and, at times, leaps of faith.
If you have never played the game before, it will soak up a good four to five hours of your time as you retrace your steps in the hope of avoiding death. For those who controlled Lester during his Amiga heyday, however, the affair is likely to be much more fleeting - if you remember the prompts and routes to safety, Another World can be completed comfortably in a quarter of that time.
The 20th anniversary edition - a slightly misleading title, given the game is 23 years old - also lacks any real imaginative repackaging of the original game. It is a nice touch to be able to switch between the 1991 visuals and a sensitive HD revamp, an option that extends to the music. But it would have been a real treat were Chahi to have developed some DLC. Perhaps we will see such innovations in time for the 30th anniversary release when another audience might be introduced to Another World’s powerful if limited charms.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
1) The gun at Lester’s disposal is a lifeline but it requires speedy reaction times to dispose of alien enemies. Practice building shields quickly and firing in short bursts.
2) If you find yourself stuck in one of the game’s screens, do not despair. There is always a solution at hand and usually it involves interacting with the environment.
3) There are countless text and YouTube walkthrough guides online for Another World; should you become stuck in one section, it is easy to find a solution with a quick Google search.