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Review: Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition

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Another World

Title: Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition
Price: $9.99
System(s): Windows
Release Date: April 4, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Focus Home Interactive (Eric Chahi/DotEmu)
ESRB Rating: N/A

Looking through the eyes of a modern day gamer, you’d easily be forgiven for mistaking this 22 year old cult classic for a current indie title; after all, the setting, narrative, and aesthetics of Another World certainly exude the aura of an indie game which, coincidentally enough, is exactly what it is: though it preceded the indie craze by nearly two decades. Originally developed by gaming auteur Eric Chahi, Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition is the definitive version of the game that gives fans, both old and new, a wonderful experience wrapped up in a stunning remastered and high definition package.

Another World

A world away

Another World centers around a physicist named Lester who is working on an experiment to recreate the events of the big bang on a smaller scale. One night, Lester arrives at his lab during a thunderstorm, which proves to be a poor choice for a work day. As he relaxes and monitors his particle accelerator, lightning strikes the lab and interferes with his experiment, transporting him to an alien world. After some rather close calls with the local wildlife, Lester is knocked unconscious and taken prisoner by the planet’s dominate species. Upon awakening, he finds himself in a cage suspended from the ceiling of an underground prison with a prisoner of the same species that captured him. Lester begins to shift his weight back and forth until finally the cage falls and lands on top of one of the prison’s guards. Together, Lester and his fellow escapee, referred to as “Buddy”, must traverse the prison and escape the clutches of the ever pursuing guards.

Another World

A paragon of narrative through gameplay

By far, the best aspect of Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition is the way in which it coveys its entire narrative without any dialogue or exposition. Everything from the subtle movements of characters, to the gradually changing environments show the player, rather than simply telling them, what is happening and why you should care. This is especially prominent during the moments of interaction between Lester and Buddy that gradually increases their relationship from one of merely having a mutual goal, to a full-fledged friendship. The primary mechanics of manipulating your surrounding environment adds to the narrative as well; never once is there a point in the game where there’s a puzzle that doesn’t directly correlate to a plot device, or is present just to pad out the game. This blurring of the lines between story and gameplay is something that even two decades later developers still struggle with; this just goes to show that you don’t need great dialogue writers and fancy cutscenes to convey a meaningful story.

Another World

While the narrative mechanics may have aged very gracefully over the years, the same cannot be said for the controls. Keeping in mind that Another World was originally designed for much less capable machines than we currently have only goes so far in offsetting some of the frustration that is sure arise within players who are more accustomed to modern control schemes. Probably the biggest thing that will annoy younger gamers is that almost every action in the game is mapped to a single button or key, the only exception being jumping. Attacking, running, and interacting with the game environment all depend on pressing the action button in conjunction with standing still, moving, or being in the correct location of a level.

The way you use your gun is based on how long you hold the action button while standing still; tap it to fire a regular shot, hold it for a second and release to deploy a temporary shield, or hold it for two seconds and release to fire a large beam that can bust through shields and walls. This type of interface wouldn’t be quite so problematic in most adventure games, but Another World attempts to be more action oriented than its controls can really handle. For example, there’s one section of the game where you must run down a long hallway while being chased by a bunch of guards. The end of this hallway is blocked off so you must stop, turn around, deploy a shield, and fire at the oncoming guards before you are killed by their shots; pulling off this set of actions is far more difficult that you’d think simply because you have to time your button presses perfectly. However, I really have to stress that this is simply a holdover from an earlier point in gaming’s history, and by no means ruins the experience, though it is something to be aware of.

Even though the controls may be remnants of a bygone age, the style and aesthetics of Another World are still as gorgeous as they were 20 years ago; of course, an HD remastering with updated graphics and sound doesn’t hurt. This version of the game even goes so far as to let you swap between the old graphics and the new ones with the push of a button, which, I have to say, I absolutely adore. In fact, I honestly couldn’t decide if I liked the old graphics or the new ones better, so I found myself changing it up every few minutes or whenever I entered a new room. Check out the difference between the two in the screenshot below.

There isn’t really much to offer musically speaking since much of Another World’s sound is derived from ambient noises and atmospheric tones, but this is more of a point in its favor than it is against it; I think having a more fleshed out soundtrack would have been detrimental to the type of narrative being presented, as well as serving as a distraction while the player is trying to think about how to solve a puzzle.

Another World

Another World stands the test of time

Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition doesn’t have too much more to offer than the original apart from the updated graphics and sound, and two more difficulty levels. The narrative and the way in which it’s delivered is still as wonderful as it’s always been and switching between the old and new graphics on the fly is a great way to keep the game’s style and aesthetics from becoming stale. While there are a few issues in terms of control, this is far from a deal breaker and really only a minor complaint. Overall, I really enjoyed Another World and give my personal recommendation to anyone who is a fan of classic adventure games or is just looking for something different. This is a game that has truly stood the test of time and is just as great as when it was released all those years ago.

Site [Another World]

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