I finally beat Another World after 23 years.
I'll say it again: I finally beat Another World after 23 years.
That may not seem like much of an achievement to some people, but Another World is one of those games that I've never managed to conquer over the years despite trying on various formats spanning three different decades. I only got about halfway on the Amiga and Atari ST in the 1990s , I got a bit further with the 15th Anniversary Edition on PC in the 2000's and only now, finally, on the PS4 in the 2010's have I conquered the beast.
It's a testament to the game and it's original creators Delphine Software - responsible for a host of great titles such as Operation Stealth, Flashback, Cruise for a Corpse and Fade to Black - that Another World has stood the test of time so well and brings you back to try again and again, even though you may leave it 10 years between efforts. Sometimes you need that time to eventually decide "go on then, one more try".
This latest incarnation of Another World, or Out of this World as it's known in the USA, is the 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition, which has been available on Mobile and Home Computer formats for the last few years, and it brings updated graphics, which can be toggled on or off, plus three modes of difficulty to the standard game, as well as an updated soundtrack.
The story, such as it is, to Another World is fairly straightforward. You are Lester Knight Chaykin, a young physicist who arrives at his laboratory during a thunderstorm at the dead of night - in his Ferrari, I might add, I never knew being a physicist paid so well - to perform an experiment with a particle accelerator as he tries to replicate what happened when the universe was created. However, at the critical point of the experiment, lightning strikes the laboratory and an explosion rips a hole in the lab, and launches Lester, literally, into another world where he must evade dangerous indigenous creatures and hostile native beings.
All of this plays out without a single word being spoken, but it doesn’t detract from the narrative. If anything, it adds to the charm and appeal of the game and never are you uncertain as to what is going on story-wise, no matter how bizarre the world might become.
Gameplay-wise, Another World’s beauty is in its simplicity. A traditional action-adventure platformer at it’s core, your main goals are to make your through various dangerous environments, solve puzzles and combat the lifeforms that you encounter, with some help along the way from the only friendly native you encounter, who has come to be affectionately known as “Buddy”. It’s a testament to the game and it’s narrative that you can gain a great deal of affection for Buddy despite the fact he doesn’t speak, at least nothing that you can understand, and you’re always concerned for his well being as you encounter and get split up from him throughout the game.
There are various environments that you’ll encounter in Another World, outdoors areas, prisons, underground caves and underwater segments. While the gameplay itself is simple enough – you climb platforms, solve puzzles, and the majority of the combat is with the pistol you pick up early in the game, which allows you to fire basic lasers, generate up to three personal shields, and fire a huge charged bolt of energy which can obliterate enemies, or come in handy for destroying obstacles. Despite it’s simplicity, the games does present a challenge. A lot of the puzzles and combat require very quick thinking and quicker reflexes, and if you’re not fast enough you’ll end up dead quicker than you can blink and sent back to the last checkpoint you encountered. Plus, if you’re not solving a certain section correctly, then you’ll be put back to the start of that section until you start figuring out the correct sequence of actions you need to perform to make your way through that area. Otherwise you’ll find yourself dying time and time again. It’s this mechanic that stumped me over all these years, but while it may be frustrating to some, for me it instilled me with that “just one more try” feeling, as when you do finally either figure out the segment’s puzzles, or manage to bolster your reflexes enough to conquer some particularly tricky enemies, then it’s immensely satisfying.
The controls function exactly the same as they did twenty-odd years ago, nothing has changed in that regard. Nothing at all, they still feel exactly the same despite being on a system three decades older and a hundred times (that’s a figure I totally made up) more powerful. While this will satisfy Another World veterans, the controls can be a little overly sensitive at times and there’s more than one occasion where I’ve run too far off an edge, or pressed jump instead of run and jumped straight down a huge chasm. Again, this could be construed as frustrating to some, but having grown-up with punishing platform games as a kid, this feels like familiar ground, and again the determination to defeat this wickedly tricky game comes to the fore. It’s got that “one more go” quality that most games yearn for, though don’t blame me if you end up throwing your controller at your TV as you fall down a pit for the umpteenth time.
Of course with this being a remastered version of the game, there have been some cosmetic changes made to the game. The game’s jaggy edges has been smoothed out, and a great deal of detail has been added to the games backgrounds which are beautiful when you get a chance to look at them. Plus, the soundtrack has been updated to take advantage of modern sound hardware. But, in truth, these graphical and audio changes don’t really add a great deal to the game. Sure, they look and sound very good, but when it came out Another World looked beautiful and unique anyway, and the original graphical style still fits and works so well that its still perfectly easy to play it through with the original graphic settings.
Apart from the graphical changes, there are also now three different difficulty settings to try – Easy, Medum and Hard. But, I’ll be honest, I tried easy and medium and noticed little difference between the two. The game is still tricky on easy, though once you become familiar with the game and its puzzles, it does become a lot easier to run through the game. But it’s trying to complete that first run-through that’s the killer.
For a landmark anniversary for such a classic game, this remastered edition feels a little underwhelming. It would’ve been great to see some extras added to the game, such as concept art, videos with the creators, and even some backstory added as you unlock each section. Just something to give it the 20th Anniversary that feeling of it being a big deal. Slapping on some cosmetic changes and different difficulty levels doesn’t really do it justice and it feels a little bit lazy.
Despite all of this, Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is still a great game by virtue of the fact that it’s Another World. It’s available for very little money, and if you’re already a fan of the game then it’s well worth the purchase, and if you’re new to the game and you enjoy platform, action-adventure romps then you’ll absolutely get your moneys worth. The presentation, the narrative and the gameplay all stand the test of time brilliantly, and the intro to the game is still one of the most memorable I’ve come across, so I’m still going to rate the game itself highly. But as for the remasters, I was left a bit disappointed, and the game deserves better than that.
+ Platforming at its best
+ Still looks gorgeous, remastered or not
+ Memorable locations and levels
+ Narrative is still simple, yet satisfying
+ Addictively tricky
- Might be too tricky for some
- Remaster feels underwhelming
- Not much difference between difficulty levels
- No bonus content