As one of the first auteur videogames, Another World – the brainchild of game designer Éric Chahi, broke new ground back in 1991 and has been on just about every platform imaginable. We’ve seen it on 16-bit computers, 16-bit consoles, PCs, tablets, and now modern HD consoles. Perhaps the title is somewhat misleading, since we’re now closer to the 25 year milestone than its 20th Anniversary, but Another World is showing a few wrinkles.
Players take on the role of Lester, a Ferrari driving scientist that accidentally opens a rift in time and space onto a hostile planet. Aliens want to kill him, creatures want to eat him, and with only a fellow captive to rely on, he must escape to safety. It’s barebones as far as plots go, but this game was made in a different time, so the cinematic element here was revolutionary at the time. Now, not so much.
If you remember how to play this game, you can finish it in under an hour. But if you are new or have forgotten, then expect trial and error combined with almost unfair circumstances that can make this game significantly longer. Another World never holds your hand, but is generous with its checkpoints even if you come across a game freezing bug. With my hour or so with the game, it crashed three times, each with a low buzz sound that made me think my TV was about to explode. Given the source material had a few game breaking glitches in similar areas, not addressing these is unacceptable.
As you progress, you’ll gain access to a laser gun. This can be fired repeatedly, charged one stage to create a shield, or two stages to fire off a charged laser that can demolish walls and shields. Controls are a little slippery meaning Lester will run that little big too far and plummet into a spike pit, or jump over one hazard to run into another. Even when you think you’ve managed to get through an area, the game throws you by having unexplained mechanics, such as swimming up to avoid tentacles or pushing buttons in a space craft.
Limited replay value can be found in the difficulty settings, graphics options at the press of a button, and a re-mastered soundtrack found within the menus, but nothing else was really added. Not even extra levels based on the ending tagline about “Another Earth”. Given that there has already been a 15th Anniversary edition with updated visuals, this feels like a missed opportunity to introduce fresh new gameplay, but something from the mind of Éric Chahi as opposed to the “sequel” on Mega CD.
For entertainment’s sake, Another World 20th Anniversary Edition is a dud. But as a lesson in what cinematic gaming actually is, it still holds up. It’s short, confusing, and all the better for it when it comes to looking at it from a game designer’s point of view and that is where most of the benefit of this re-release lies. But it’s mechanics and length will have limited appeal beyond this particular audience. It has its place in history, but Another World lacks appeal in today’s world.