Written by  :  Unicorn Lynx (181358)
Written on  :  Jul 06, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars4.8 Stars

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Cinematic masterpiece way ahead of its time

The Good

Platform games were all about jumping and running, until Prince of Persia came and added thinking and planning to the mix. This heralded the birth of a sub-genre: the often frustratingly difficult, but imaginative and rewarding "cinematic platformers".

Well, even though Prince undoubtedly kicked this genre into existence, whenever I think of it - most specifically of the word cinematic - I think of this game, Another World.

Like no other game of its time (and very few afterwards), Another World managed to do the seemingly impossible: merge gripping, exciting narrative with the most creative and satisfying action-based gameplay.

Alone that would have been enough to engrave the game's name forever into the stone tablets of the Hall of Fame. But the magic of Another World goes beyond that. What is truly amazing is how exactly it achieved what I mentioned above.

Indeed, if you try to describe the narrative and the gameplay of Another World to somebody who has never heard of it, that person will probably have a hard time to understand how a game that plays like that and tells such a story can be, of all things, a "cinematic platformer" that reached unseen heights in narrative and gameplay.

How is it possible to tell a moving, suspenseful story, that would portray an intimidating alien society, bring across a clear message of tolerance and friendship - and all that with dramatic scenes and sudden twists - without a single word? With the exception of some gibberish uttered by the guards and your alien buddy, there is no speech, no text, no dialogues at all in this game! Then how come was its story so involving and emotional?

Another World is widely known for its gameplay variety. For its time, it had certainly the richest gameplay of all platform games, brimming with creative diversity. It had original, challenging combat, varied puzzles, timed tasks, and so on. How was it possible to achieve all that with gameplay that involved pressing the four directional arrows plus two buttons?..

I don't know how, but I know that Eric Chahi is a great video game designer. It's truly amazing that one person could create a game of such calibre almost entirely on his own. Chahi's vision, imagination, and talent in different aspects of video game design made this masterpiece possible.

Another World was not only a fantastic action adventure with a strong narrative; it also had outstanding presentation. It is simply hard to believe that this game was released as early as 1991 - barely the first few years of new VGA technique, and Another World already reached into the future by introducing spectacular vector graphics and breath-taking backgrounds with a unique style and choice of colors. And the full-screen cut scenes were truly incredible. I remember how I was looking forward to replaying that first "beast level" only to watch again Lester's encounter with the alien leader.

The Bad

I know people who absolutely cannot accept any form of trial-and-error. Such people would likely be immensely frustrated by Another World, because it is full of it. There are entire levels (such as the one where Lester has to roll through sewers) which must be replayed, because there is absolutely no way to complete the level without knowing where the hazards are (unless someone is really, really lucky). But in order to know the hazards, one must first get killed by them. This is a formula that repeats itself many times in Another World, so beware: this game is not for the impatient.

Though in all honestly I found this game much more forgiving than the impossible first Prince of Persia. I could never play more than a few levels of Prince, let alone complete it; the frustration level was much too high. Yet I managed to beat Another World on my own, without even consulting a walkthrough, which is a rare case for me.

Well, maybe that was because I played Another World before I got internet access, but that's another issue.

The Bottom Line

Another World is truly a phenomenon; a minimalistic masterpiece designed by one person, it was not only a remarkable achievement in gameplay, but also an intensely cinematic game that opened up new possibilities for the medium. Today, when we look back at Another World, we can only wonder how it was possible to make such games.