Almost everything we love about modern video game owes a huge debt to Another World. So, it’s a boon that people playing on the Xbox Ones and PS4s of today can experience what made this proto-indie adventure a classic.
Elegant world-building. Storytelling quirks unique to the medium. Beautifully naturalistic animation. Proper use of cinematic influences. The presence of all of these in Another World is proof that the ancestral debt mentioned above isn’t an exaggeration. If you’ve played a game that’s triggered emotions or made you feel transported to alternate realities — anything from, say, Ico to The Walking Dead — then you’ve experienced the DNA that Éric Chahi’s 1991 Amiga masterpiece passed on to future generations.
The version of Another World hitting Wii U, 3DS, Xbox One, PS3,
PS4 and Vita
This week is the 20th Anniversary Edition remaster that first came out for iOS three years ago. (The heavy lifting for the remaster was done by designer Martial Hesse-Dréville.) As much as I love Another World, that iteration of the game annoyed me when I sat down with. I first played a Sega Genesis port of Another World and the precision that I wanted with the 2011 touchscreen update wasn’t there. It was great to be able to play a spruced-up version but it didn’t feel like how I remembered it. So I’m glad that a modern console version exists now.
I played the 20th Anniversary edition on an Xbox One and it ran just fine. The controls are responsive with button configurations that make sense. Like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary a few years back, the game features the option to switch between the newer remastered graphics and its original look. You can choose from three versions of the soundtrack, too, but that option isn’t available while you’re playing.
No matter which set of visual or audio options you play with, the charm of Another World remains intact. The dread, loneliness, panic and relief that the game imparted when it first came out are still here. And the spare minimalism created by late 1980s tech limitations gets affirmed as a strong artistic choice in the present day, even in an age where players are used to so much more-ness in their games.
Granted, some of what would make video maddening for the next few decades is in evidence here too. Frustratingly oblique puzzle logic (if you haven’t played it before, or just forgot) and checkpoints that make you redo annoying sections, among them. But, one could argue that those things didn’t become widespread problems until creators ignored the technology or wisdom to avoid them and just put them in anyway.
You could look at this new release of Another World for a new set of consoles as just another opportunity to make money. But I think it’s more than just that. Just look at how excited people were at the revelation of a Grim Fandango re-master a few weeks ago at E3. Finally, Tim Schafer’s seminal adventure game could escape the limbo it’s been in and become playable again for those who’d never experienced it or wanted to revisit a beloved part of their gaming past.
Bringing Another World to the platforms of 2014 feels like the best kind of game preservation, one that doesn’t need to scramble for resources or wrestle with a messy tangle of rights or legalities. It just exists, because, of course, it should. And you should play it — again, if you’ve done so already — along with someone who hasn’t already. Yeah, more patience might be required with this game than for one that came out a few weeks ago. Another World is worth it though.