By Eric Pankoke on Fri, 09/23/2011
I am definitely a fan of ports of older games, because they usually allow me to replay a game I really enjoyed from my past or experience a game that I never got the opportunity to try the first time around. Another World is slightly different, though, because other than knowing that it existed I had never played it nor did I know enough about it to really be interested in playing it. Now that I’ve spent some time with it, however, I realize that I missed out on something pretty special by letting this one pass by. I’m just glad I’ve gotten the chance to make amends on that faux pas.
You play a scientist that manages to get sucked into an alien world thanks to a malfunction in a machine you were working on. Unfortunately, the area you end up in appears to be in the midst of a war, and you end up being on the wrong side. Thankfully there’s one alien that’s on your side – as long as you can help keep him alive. The game starts off with a cool intro cinema that does a pretty good job of conveying the story without actually using any dialog, spoken or written. It’s also interesting to note that there are small cinema snippets strewn throughout the game. While none are lengthy like the intro (they actually tend to focus around your character’s death ala Dragon’s Lair), they give the game a much more cinematic feel than most platform games have.
While there’s no doubt this is a platform game, don’t expect mindless running / jumping and coin collecting like most of them offer. This game is all about the best way to get out of a situation, not necessarily the one you would perceive to be the easiest. I suppose I could have just said there are lots of puzzles, but sometimes it seems like more than that. It’s about exploring and understanding your environment. Often you’ll need to do something in one room to affect another room that you can’t see, but the timing still has to be correct. *SPOILER* For example, in one room you have to knock down a decorative ball hanging from the ceiling, but that ball has to hit a guard in the room below. Problem is, you can’t see the guard that you’re trying to knock out! *END SPOILER* It can get frustrating at times, but in the end it’s always satisfying when you get the sequence of events correct.
I like the fact that you’re working with an NPC partner, and it’s not just one of those things where he’s “got your back” and shoots the enemies when appropriate. You actually need him in order to solve certain puzzles, and things you do along the way can help him in his journey without you even realizing it. There aren’t too many platform games that use this kind of mechanic, and even less that use it to such good effect. Sure there are some games where you control multiple characters to solve puzzles or where you can have multiple players, but there’s something different about this. It’s like you’re really in a living world where people actually want to help you. Finally, for those that might have been disheartened by the lack of coins, at least you do get a weapon at some point. In fact, the gun is another tool for solving puzzles, and will sometimes help you get out of situations without having to shoot something (at least something living).
Now for the almost inevitable “stuff I don’t like” section. I’m not keen on the controls. The action button is pretty responsive, but it’s often hard to hit the jump button, and even harder to be precise in motion when the same button is used for walking, running and stopping. I’ve gotten used to the controls, but there are still scenes I have to play multiple times because I just can’t quite get the buttons to respond when I want them to. There is another control scheme that abandons the d-pad altogether, but that one didn’t feel natural to me at all. The other thing I don’t like is the save, and this is mainly because it seems haphazard. Whether it’s really the case or not, it often seems like the game saves whenever it feels like it, and there were times were it seemed like I had to repeat sequences because a save reset itself. It’s actually kind of hard to explain, but you’ll see what I mean when you play the game.
The artwork is incredible. It’s certainly not going to wow any 3D nuts, but it’s very stylistic and to me shows a very interesting use of color. The graphics are detailed without going to the extreme of showing facial features or anything of that nature and it still manages to look anything but cartoonish. And as I mentioned before, interweaving small cinematic snippets into the actual game play give the game a whole different feel. You can actually play with original graphics or HD enhanced visuals, and while you can tell the difference, the original images still look pretty good.
The sound effects can be very compelling. You don’t get to hear too much from the aliens, but when you do it sounds like they are speaking their own language. You can hear things going on in other rooms, so you almost never feel like you’re alone. The atmosphere in Another World has been wonderfully crafted – except for the music. Sadly, there is none throughout most o f the game. It’s a sad omission, but certainly not a deal breaker by any means.
Another World is a delight to play from start to finish. It’s not a particularly long game, especially if you’re a skilled player (thankfully I’m not), but there are multiple difficulty settings if you’re not feeling challenged enough. The developers did a great job of creating a neat world that was fun to explore. More importantly, they proved that there’s still innovation to be had in the platform game genre, even if we had to go back in time 20 years to get it! Whatever shortcomings exist in the controls and save mechanism are more than made up for in the game as a whole. You’d really be remiss not to give this game a try.
Overall Score: 10/10
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