Reader Review: Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition

Another World is a game I've often thought of purchasing for my brand new Nexus 7, so I really appreciate this reader review from Michael Hart, particularly since he didn't spend much time with the original, and therefore comes to the game with a fresh, alternative perspective. Good stuff Michael! Take it away!

Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition

This is without a doubt the oldest game I’ve written a reader review for…but as they say these days, old is new again, and so we have Another World. Originally released in 1991 on the Amiga and PC (and later ported to a number of other platforms), Another World has made a return to gamers on iOS and Android. I decided to plonk a couple of bucks down on it recently to see how is fared.

I should preface this review by saying that I never played the original (though I did play the very-similar-but-not-actually-related game Flashback), so I have no rose-tinted glasses to look through.

The Good

It’s a thinking man’s game: All I can say is…they definitely don’t make games like this anymore. The puzzles in Another World are a level above just about everything that’s been released on the current console generation. Some of them are quite frankly brutal, with many of them resulting in death if you mess them up. You’re really going to need to sit and think, not just mindlessly run and shoot things. There’s always a sense of satisfaction when you figure something out, because you knew you needed to work at it.

Classic and Modern: The guys that have ported the game to iOS and Android have made an interesting addition. While they have updated the game’s visuals to look more contemporary, they have also provided an option to switch back to the classic visuals at any time with the press of a button. While you may not want to play the game with 20 year old graphics, it’s nice to appreciate the work that went into bringing it up to date. The new visuals do look spiffy; however the game does still show its age at times, such as with some of the animations.

The Not So Good

Trial and error…and error…and error: As I alluded to above the game holds nothing back when it comes to death. Unless you already know what’s coming, you’ll die a lot in this game. You can only take a single hit from anything, and just about everything that can kill you probably will at least once. Some puzzles are not at all intuitive and can only be solved by attempting to do something, dying, attempting something else, and dying again, until you eventually do something that works. Or doing something, realising you messed it up, then needing to kill yourself to reset the area. Luckily, checkpoints are never far away and allow you to retry as many times as you want.

The who and the what now: Sometimes rules that are established earlier in the game are broken later on, leaving you scratching your head about how you are meant to progress until you realise what was once true no longer is, and said rules no longer apply. Also, despite the fact you’ll be dying a lot and some puzzles will have you running back and forth until you figure out what you’re supposed to be doing, the game is pretty short, and shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours on your first playthrough. Once you know the solutions to the puzzles though you can knock it over much quicker than that (I’ve been told it can be finished quite easily in half an hour).

The Iffy

Control freak: I played the game on my Xperia Play, which of course has physical controls, and I can’t complain at all, the controls were perfect. A mate of mine who played the game purely using a touchscreen device though said “The touch screen controls alternate between perfect and rage inducing”, citing the swipe actions in particular as being the major culprit. Luckily there are only one or two spots in the game where they can really be a problem, but it’s worth pointing out that your experience might be a bit hit and miss.

The Verdict

Another World has held up pretty well despite being 20 years old. The game has a unique cinematic feel to it that was rare back then and even rarer these days, and the new visuals and new platforms help to bring this across to a new audience. Despite some hair pulling moments and some occasional iffy touchscreen controls, you should enjoy your time with Another World. In case the difficulty wasn’t enough for you, there’s a “Hard” and even a “Hardcore” mode to try out if you’re feeling particularly masochistic. At the very least it’s a good way to kill time on a few train trips home from work and you want something with a bit more substance than Angry Birds.


Comments

    Nice review, this is one of my favourite games of all time, there's quite a bit of history with it, from being made by the one guy, to the infamous "infinite fax"
    When you talk about the visuals do you mean the updated backgrounds?
    Also, if you are like me and don't have some fancy phone thingy you can always buy the game from gog.com which works great on newer systems.

      The backgrounds have been updated (in most cases they look very different as they replace what was once black space with bricked walls and windows and stuff), but the character models have also been updated and are a slightly higher resolution. As I said you can switch between the classic and modern visuals as much as you want and you can easily see the difference between the two. It's by no means "HD", but the higher resolution does look better.

        Ahh, that's what I thought, the character models were all originally done with polygons so they easily scale up into higher resolutions with no negative effects.

    I'm curious: in a game where you can only take one hit, what extra difficulty is brought on by "Hard" and "Hardcore"?

    Great review, I've had this game on my radar for a while now.

      The main difference I have noticed is that your shield disappears faster than usual. This actually ups the challenge quite a lot, especially in parts that require precise shooting and timing. I am sure there are other changes but that's the one that stood out.

      Last edited 21/06/13 10:19 pm

    This was one of my first PC games also. Brilliant.

    Played this and loved it on the Amiga way back in the day. Great game for the time.. that intro sequence was amazing!

    It should also be noted that it's currently 50% off on the Google Play store.

    The creator also released a high resolution remake in 2006. I was always more of a Flashback man myself but it's tough to compete with all the alien nudity in Another World when you get to the baths.

    Dat polygonal ass.

    Played this on SNES. The first stage was awesome, the rest was a bit frustrating and I don't think I ever finished it. Loved me some Flashback though, still my favourite ending.

    Now the question is, will they release its sequel 'Heart of the Alien'????

      "Unofficial sequel"
      I never got around to trying that, is it any good?

        Depends how you look at it. Chahi made the game by himself, that is true, but the rights were owned by Interplay. Is Fallout 3 any less a sequel to the other series, is New Vegas? What about Oblivion to ? It's made by a different company that bought the rights etc. Interplay made the sequel and its definitely *not* as artistic or poignant as Another/Out of this world, Chahi said he doesn't *mind* it but it's not his work. Which is true. But that being said, it IS a good game, it IS a good continuation and it IS nice to be able to play as the alien, showing the fate of 'Lester' and how his actions influenced the world he found himself in.

          My bad. Beth made all the elder scrolls. My mistake. Though you could substitute it for many other games series. Just nothing that went to ea. Pleaaaase....

          That's a pretty good point, I've always been keen to try it out, I always loved the Alien dude and the idea of seeing the story from his view was very appealing. I may have to obtain this somehow.

            Btw your best way to obtain this is with an emmulator. It was released as a MegaCD. Thats how I played it. Dunno about PC?

              Yeah, being on MegaCD is why I haven't tried it yet, but emulation is easy enough, I;m juat lazy and forgetful

      I thought the unofficial sequel was called Heart of darkness. Or is my memory full o lies?

        Heart of Darkness is just another game made by Eric Chahi I think, it was on PS1 right?

          Sure was and it was fantastic. Don't get me wrong, Heart of the Alien DID lack something that the original Out of this/Another World had, that creative/artistic flair was eschewed for a sound effect driven, action setpiece oriented look. The minimalistic look was taken away and far more detail was implemented. But it was still a very, very good game. It's definitely worth checking out. But do keep in mind it's not a touch on the original, it's also not the plot direction Chahi intended to take either.

    My 8 year old son is sitting next to me playing it on my iPad now, it fills me with a lot of pride to be able to share one of the most influential games of my early pc gaming history with him.

    And he loves it :)

    Ahh Flashback. Fond memories. Played Another World a bit recently and a lot of thought has been put into the deaths. It's fun to see the different ways you can die. Even if you AFK after getting out of the pool you die; hahaha.

    I love these old remakes.
    I would love a remake of Sword of the Samurai or Covert action. That would make me HAPPY!

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